Founded in 1973, Chateau St. Jean was conceived as a true fine wine estate in the European style, where wines from individual vineyards were kept separate to fully capture individual character of each site.
The wines received immediate critical acclaim and Chateau St. Jean was soon recognized as a leader in single vineyard designated wines.
Today, our winemaker Margo Van Staaveren calls upon 40 years of vineyard and winemaking expertise at Chateau St. Jean to truly showcase the stunning grapes we work with in both classic single vineyard wines and award winning blends like Cinq Cépages.
1916: The Goff Family
Ernest and Maude Goff, having established their family fortune in the iron ore mines in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and lumber in the Pacific Northwest, came to California from Saginaw, Michigan with their four sons and one daughter and 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 bannisters, 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.
1970: New Owners
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.
1973: Founding of Chateau St. Jean
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.
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.
1999: Cinq Cépages Named Wine of the Year
In 1999, Chateau St. Jean was the first Sonoma winery to be awarded the prestigious “Wine of the Year” award from Wine Spectator magazine for its 1996 Cinq Cépages – a Bordeaux-style blend of “five varieties.”
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.
2003: Margo Van Staaveren Named Head Winemaker
Margo Van Staaveren, who had worked at Chateau St. Jean since 1980, named head winemaker.
2008: “Winemaker of the Year”
Margo Van Staaveren receives Wine Enthusiast magazine’s prestigious Winemaker of the Year title.
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.
2020: Margo Hits a Milestone
2020 marks winemaker Margo Van Staaveren’s 40th year working at Chateau St. Jean.