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Wine Tour: Chateau St. Jean
With gracious style, exquisite architecture, and inviting gardens, Chateau St. Jean has become an icon of sorts in the Sonoma Valley.
Founded in 1973, the Chateau St. Jean winery has the distinction of producing the first Sonoma County wine (the Cinq Cépages Cabernet Sauvignon) to be chosen by Wine Spectator as its Wine of the Year. The estate has delivered a relaxed French flair to the foot of Sonoma Valley’s Sugarloaf Ridge, with a graciously staffed Visitor Center and elegant gardens designed to provide the utmost in tasting experiences. Guests are invited to shop at the delectably stocked charcuterie, picnic on the grounds—which include two fountains, a rose garden, and a large patio—stroll through the courtyard garden, visit the demonstration vineyard, and simply linger. It’s not surprising that the Kenwood, California estate was voted Best Wine Tasting Room by NorthBay Biz readers in 2009.
It would be a mistake to think that people visit Chateau St. Jean purely for its ambience. Chateau St. Jean has a longstanding reputation for the exceptional quality of its wines. The winery was one of the first to craft single-vineyard designated wine (numerous lots of grapes kept separate throughout the winemaking process that are bottled and labeled with the vineyard name). And the winery boasts a legacy of great winemaking talent.
Winemaker Margo Van Staaveren, who has been with Chateau St. Jean for more than 30 years, was named Winemaker of the Year by Wine Enthusiast in 2008. The publication recently pronounced, "For a winemaker to not only survive but also to thrive at a winery for nearly 30 years is remarkable in itself. For that winemaker to get better and better with each passing vintage, so that the winery is recognized as one of the top brands in America, is even more noteworthy."
As anyone who has visited its grounds or tasted its wines will profess, the enviable style of Chateau St. Jean is relaxed, elegant, and pure Sonoma.
WHAT TO BUY
’09 Pinot Blanc, Alexander Valley, Robert Young Vineyard - $24
Rich ripe pear, honeydew melon, yellow apples, hazelnut, vanilla, nectarine, peach, apricot, citrus
’09 Pinot Noir, Durell Vineyard, Sonoma Valley - $55
Dried cranberries, raspberries, Bing cherries, smoky oak, rose petals, cola, bacon
’08 Cinq Cepages, Sonoma County - $75
Chocolate-covered cherries, ripe cassis, black plums, blackberry fruit, cocoa, espresso, mocha, sage, mint
Tasting Room Open Daily 10–5
8555 Sonoma Hwy
Kenwood, CA 95452
Readers who mention Touring & Tasting magazine will receive two tastings for the price of one
Touring & Tasting is a media company that produces a wine and travel magazine and is also partner in the Hitched Wine Club.
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