A Sonoma Classic

Chateau St. Jean Winery & Vineyards
Kenwood, CA

Now considered a classic in Sonoma Valley, Chateau St. Jean Winery and Vineyards is always embarking on something new. The most recent example is its exciting and informative private tastings and wine seminars. The Terroir & History Tour is a complimentary guided tour of Chateau St. Jean's stunning estate, where guests learn firsthand why terroir means "sense of place." Wine education classes offer novices and aficionados alike wine appreciation techniques as well as food and wine pairing skills. For the connoisseur, the Cinq Cépages Blending Seminar tests guests on each component of Chateau St. Jean's flagship wine. Using all five Bordeaux varietals, guests then blend and bottle their own wine to take home.

Located at the base of Sugarloaf Ridge in Sonoma Valley, Chateau St. Jean features beautiful Mediterranean-style gardens, where wine tourers leisurely stroll before heading to the new Visitor Center to taste wines and order a gourmet picnic from the Charcuterie. In the Vineyard Room, located in the historic 1920s Chateau, guests sample the highly concentrated Reserve and limited production wines of Chateau St. Jean.

Putting together the final blend for the acclaimed Cabernet Sauvignon Cinq Cépages and for the Reserve wines is one of many joys of Winemaker Margo Van Staaveren. A pioneer of vineyard designated wines--numerous lots of grapes kept separate throughout the winemaking process that are bottled and labeled with the vineyard name--Chateau St. Jean has been practicing this method since the early 1970s. "Since no two vintages are alike," says Margo, "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."

With 400,000 cases produced annually and Chateau St. Jean's extensive portfolio, a visit to this quintessential Sonoma winery is an experience for the knowledge-seeker--and the senses.

What to buy:
'04 Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinq Cépages, Sonoma County Blackberry, cassis, mocha, violets $75
'06 Pinot Noir Benoist Ranch, Sonoma Coast Raspberry, black plums, cola, pomegranate, brown spice $50
'05 Reserve Chardonnay, Sonoma County Pear, grapefruit, pineapple, butterscotch, papaya, créme brulée $45
'07 Fumé Blanc Honeydew melon, pear, lemongrass, hint of spice, pink grapefruit, white tea, citrus zest $13

Contact:
707.833-4134; Fax: 707.833.4200
www.chateaustjean.com
8555 Sonoma Hwy (Hwy 12)
Kenwood, CA 95452
Tasting Room Open Daily 10-5

Getting There:
From Hwy 101 exit on Hwy 12 E (12 miles) and continue on Sonoma Hwy into Kenwood. Winery is on the left.

Captions: 1. Visitors can order gourmet salads, sandwiches, and artisan cheeses for a picnic on the spectacular grounds. 2. Winemaker Margo van Staaveren. 3. Tours of the winery's beautiful gardens are offered twice daily.

 

This story originally appeared on Touring and Tasting