2017 will be Margo Van Staaveren’s 37th harvest at Chateau St Jean. She was named “Winemaker of the Year” by Wine Enthusiast magazine in 2008. During her long tenure with the winery, Margo has played a pivotal role in every facet of the winemaking process. As winemaker, she makes the final decisions involving blend and style to produce consistently high quality wines in the super premium and luxury category.
That’s no small task considering Chateau St. Jean produces an extensive portfolio of Sonoma County wines as well as vineyard designated wines, limited-production Reserve wines, and the flagship Cinq Cépages Cabernet Sauvignon. Margo has been instrumental in the production of the Cinq Cépages since the premier 1990 vintage release.
Margo is a firm believer that great wines are grown — a conviction she shares with the Chateau founders who led the way for Chateau St. Jean to become a pioneer of vineyard-designated wines in the early 1970s. To achieve Chateau St. Jean vineyard designation the grapes must consistently exhibit exceptional varietal character each year.
The art of blending is the cornerstone of Margo’s winemaking philosophy. To her, one of the greatest accomplishments is to create a wine style or signature blend that carries from vintage to vintage while still capturing the uniqueness of that particular growing year. The Chateau St. Jean Sonoma County wines are appellation blends of a particular varietal. These wines give Margo the opportunity to blend together the distinct characteristics from each sub-appellation in an effort to make the best wine possible from that vintage. “I find that blended wines from the diverse Sonoma County region are even more explosive in their intensely forward fruit flavors,” Margo explains.
One of the things she enjoys most about her job is putting together the final blend for the Reserve wines.
“Since no two vintages are alike, it gives us the opportunity to carefully search for the vineyard lots that offer the biggest fruit expression and the ability to age in order to create a wine that truly captures the best of the vintage,” says Margo. The Reserve wines represent the most concentrated, distinctive and balanced wines made at Chateau St. Jean.
Margo Van Staaveren graduated from the University of California at Davis in 1979 with a Bachelor of
Science in Fermentation Science. Shortly after graduation, she joined Chateau St. Jean as a Laboratory
Technician in 1980. By 1989, she had worked her way to being named Assistant Winemaker and later named
Associate Winemaker. Margo was named Winemaker and General Manager for Chateau St. Jean in August of 2003, continuing a rich legacy of winemaking as the fourth winemaker in the winery’s history.