Chateau St. Jean was founded in Sonoma Valley, near Kenwood, in 1973 by Robert and Edward Merzoian and Ken Sheffield. The three business partners were grape growers who wanted to make wine. Their first winemaker Richard Arrowood went on to establish his own winery in the 1990s, leaving a legacy of outstanding winemaking, especially with Chardonnay. In 1997 the 117-acre estate was purchased by Beringer Wine Estates. With vineyards in Sonoma Valley and the Russian River Valley, the estate grows a wide variety of red and white grapes and purchases additional varietals, including Pinot Noir and Riesling. Robert M. Parker Jr. has written that though Chateau St. Jean is often considered primarily “a white wine producing estate because of the brilliant quality of their Fume Blancs and Chardonnays, they also fashion very fine Cabernet Sauvignons as well as an excellent Bordeaux blend…”
Sonoma Coast AVA runs from San Pablo Bay in the south to Mendocino County in the north. It includes 7,000 vineyard acres and earned AVA status in 1987. Its proximity to the Pacific Ocean means it gets double the rainfall of nearby inland appellations and the ocean gives the appellation a relatively cool climate. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir can thrive in these conditions, and there are numerous producers making critically acclaimed Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
This grape is grown in milder climates and produces a medium-to full-bodied wine. It is also known as Shiraz, but should not be confused with Petit Sirah, which was developed by crossing Syrah with Peloursin.