CSJ History Top Banner 1920 x 400 recolor

Our History

Quintessential Sonoma Since 1973

Our iconic Chateau dates to the 1920’s, but our story really starts in 1973 when our three founders bought the property with a vision for creating wines that captured the nuance, character, and quality of Sonoma’s distinct vineyards and growing regions. They named the winery after the only woman who was “saintly” enough to keep the three of them in line, Jean Sheffield, who happened to be their wife, sister, and sister-in-law. Since then, some of the most iconic names in winemaking have practiced the same values that built Chateau St. Jean: a belief in this place, a hospitality that comes from the heart, and an allergy to pretense. We’re not just wine people, we’re Sonoma wine people. For us, wine is a community that comes together to celebrate the good things in life, and the patience, passion, and pride it takes to perfect them.

840x480 CSJ History 1916

1916: The Goff Family

Ernest and Maude Goff established their family fortune in the iron ore mines of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and Pacific Northwest lumber, and came to California from Saginaw, Michigan with their four sons and one daughter. They purchased approximately 300 acres of land in the Valley of the Moon area of Sonoma County, California.

1920: The Goff Summer Home

Construction on the Goff family’s summer home – the Chateau – began in 1920. The Goffs designed an elegant house with solid oak banisters, an oak-paneled hallway, and a large oak fireplace in the living room – which now serves as the Reserve Tasting Room in the Chateau. White wine grapes grew on the property at this time, but with the onset of Prohibition, the family planted prunes and walnuts, too.

840x480 CSJ History 1920
1000x428 CSJ HistoryPanel 1973

1973: Founding of Chateau St. Jean

In the early 1970s, Ken Sheffield, and Bob, and Ed Merzoian – San Joaquin Valley table grape growers and shippers – began a search for the perfect setting to build a premium California winery. The Valley of the Moon was their first choice and their attention focused on 250 acres of the Goff estate.

Chateau St. Jean was founded in October 1973 and named after Jean Sheffield Merzoian – sister, sister-in-law, and wife to the owners.

1974: Inaugural Wine Vintage

The inaugural vintage was produced at another winery by Chateau St. Jean’s first winemaker, Dick Arrowood. The first vintage made on the property was in 1975.

CSJ Harvest2 Historical
840x650 CSJTastingRoom hi res

1980: Winery Completed

In 1980, the winery and grounds in Kenwood, California were completed. The winery was designed from the ground up to accommodate numerous lots of grapes and keep them separate throughout the winemaking process to make sure vineyard designation stayed pure.

2000: New Visitor Center and Gardens

In the summer of 2000, Chateau St. Jean opened the doors to its new Visitor Center and Gardens. This new wine tasting and retail room is housed in an elegant garden structure offering intimate and unique areas for wine tasting, picnics, and strolls. The statue of Jean – the winery’s namesake – stands in the main courtyard garden by the decorative pool.

840x550 Gardens Visitation CSJ 9862
800x840 CSJ A beautiful eve Cinq Cepages

2017: 25th Anniversary of Cinq Cépages

With the release of the 2014 vintage of Cinq Cépages, 2017 marked the 25th anniversary of Chateau St. Jean’s flagship wine.

2022: Rebuilding an Iconic Winery

Winemaker Niki Williams joined the winery as its fifth winemaker in the spring of 2022. By August, she had assembled a team to manage the winery’s first full production in six years, including rebuilding the destemmer, crush pad, and presses. The winery’s surrounding gardens and bocce courts were also upgraded, allowing visitors to enjoy the classic setting to the fullest.

Winery Resumes Full Production 840x550
CSJ Celebrates 50 Years 840 x 550

2023: Celebrating Fifty Years

We’re proud to have set the standard in Sonoma County wines of excellence since our founding in 1973, and will continue to showcase the region’s best AVA’s with our new releases.