Sonoma County is a diverse growing region with a complex terrain of small valleys, benchlands and hillsides. A coastal appellation, it is favored with fog in the morning and sunny afternoons cooled by maritime breezes. From the cool Carneros area in the south to the more moderate Russian River and Alexander Valleys further north, a wide variety of grapes can enjoy the optimum climate to achieve rich varietal flavor.
Chateau St. Jean is a pioneer in vineyard designation within Sonoma County — making wine from, and naming it for, an outstanding single vineyard. Since fine wines and individual vineyards have been closely associated for centuries in Europe, the Chateau’s founders reasoned vineyard designation was equally valid in Sonoma County. Soon after its inception, the winery began producing individually labeled Chardonnays from the Robert Young and Belle Terre Vineyards.
A pioneer in the Sonoma Valley, Chateau St. Jean has been producing exceptional single vineyard wines since the release of the 1975 Belle Terre Vineyard Chardonnay.
The St. Jean Estate Vineyard surrounds the winery and tasting room in Kenwood. The property consists of 270 acres with more than 93 planted acres on the hillside and valley floor of several varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot and Petit Verdot, Viognier and Gewurztraminer. In select years, Chateau St. Jean produces a single vineyard Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Viognier. Additionally, all of the Bordeaux varieties planted on the estate contribute to the winery’s flagship wine, Cinq Cépages.
Tucked in a sheltered cove at the northern end of Alexander Valley, the Robert Young Vineyard has a long history of growing superior wine grapes in its fine alluvial loam soils. Robert Young saw an opportunity to custom tailor a Chardonnay clone that was best suited for his vineyard site. Using the best selection from his original plantings of the Wente clone, Robert Young had his “Robert Young Clone” certified in 1989. Chateau St. Jean produces both a vineyard designated Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc from this famous vineyard.
Chateau St. Jean has been producing Belle Terre Vineyard Chardonnay since 1975. The vineyard is a part of a ranch owned by the Dick Family located on the Russian River in southern Alexander Valley. Over the past three decades, the Dick Family has built a reputation as one of the premier grape-growing families in the region. The Belle Terre vineyard terrain consists of gently rolling land with well-drained, gravelly and sandy loam soils.
The Lyon Vineyard is located in the most northern part of the Alexander Valley, adjacent to the Russian River. Chateau St. Jean has enjoyed a long term relationship with grower Mark Lyon since the early ‘80s. Chateau St. Jean sources Sauvignon Blanc from this vineyard. The 2006 vintage marked the inaugural release of Chateau St. Jean’s Lyon Vineyard Fumé Blanc.
The Hallberg Ranch is located just outside of Sebastopol. The vineyard is managed by Kirk Lokka who is committed to growing the finest Pinot Noir possible. The vineyard is unique with Goldridge sandy-loam soils and enjoys beautiful sunny afternoon weather tempered by fog and cooling coastal breezes.
Chateau St. Jean introduced a Durell Vineyard Chardonnay with the 1996 vintage but had been working with this highly acclaimed vineyard since 1991. One of the characteristics that makes this vineyard so intriguing year after year is that it does not exhibit typical Carneros flavors. Durell Chardonnay always surprises with its big tropical fruit notes and spicy perfume aromas. In addition to the vineyard designated Chardonnay, Chateau St. Jean also produces a Durell Vineyard Pinot Noir and Syrah.
The Grace Benoist Ranch, located in the cool Sonoma Coast appellation, benefits from the moderating influence of the San Pablo Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Chateau St. Jean began making a Benoist Ranch Syrah with the 2004 vintage and a Benoist Ranch Pinot Noir with the 2005 vintage.
The Cold Creek Ranch is tucked away in the coveted Sonoma Coast appellation where maritime influences produce Chardonnay with forward fruit flavors and lively acidity. This vineyard is the newest addition to the Chateau St. Jean portfolio of vineyard designated wines; however, it has contributed to the Reserve Chardonnay program for many years. The inaugural release from Cold Creek was the 2007 Chardonnay which will be followed-up with a 2008 Pinot Gris.
The stunningly beautiful Gap’s Crown vineyard is located on the western edge of Sonoma Mountain and ranges in elevation from 300’ to 840’. The vineyard is heavily influenced by cool ocean breezes and a natural fog pocket that stalls over the area allowing the fruit to ripen slowly over the course of the growing season. This results in perfect balance between sugar development and phenolic ripeness.