Founded in 1978 by Steve Kistler, Kistler Vineyards produces some of California’s most admired Chardonnay. Located in the Russian River Valley, Kistler’s Burgundian style Chardonnays have achieved a “Cult Chardonnay” status because of their traditional style and extraordinary, Grand Cru character. Recently Kistler Vineyards has also won accolades for its Pinot Noir, which Robert M. Parker Jr. predicts may eventually be even more profound and admired than the winery’s Chardonnays. But whether they are making Chardonnay or Pinot Noir, Kistler Vineyards’ wines are always highly rated and hard to acquire. The winery owns 210 acres, which it plants to Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah. Annual production is generally under 10,000 cases. Kistler wines are usually available only through its mailing list.
Russian River Valley AVA is named for the river that meanders from Mendocino County in the north until it finally runs into the Pacific Ocean north of San Francisco. The AVA is cool thanks to its proximity to the northern California coast and the river, and grape growers must learn to deal with regular fog. Nevertheless in recent decades the AVA has become one of the best in the state, meaning that its wines often earn excellent reviews and have considerable cachet. The AVA status was awarded in 1983 and today the appellation has 15,000 vineyard acres. Chardonnay is the most widely planted grape though Pinot Noir has also been very successful in recent decades. Russian River Valley Pinot Noir are known for being rich, lush and filled with concentrated fruit and berry flavors. Russian River Pinot Noirs are today considered some of the best domestic Pinot Noirs.
This white variety originated in Burgundy, but is now grown around the world. Its flexibility to thrive in many regions translates to wide flavor profile in the market. Chardonnay is commonly used in making Champagne and sparkling wines.