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.
Sonoma County is not an AVA, but it is a commonly used informal designation for wines made outside of more specific AVAs within Sonoma, which is a large wine producing region just west of Napa Valley. Though Sonoma is often overshadowed by its glamorous neighbor Napa Valley, it has a long history of wine production. The area specialized in jug wine until the mid-20th century, when Sonoma producers took a cue from Napa and started improving quality. Unlike Napa, where Cabernet Sauvignon is king, Sonoma specialized in Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Zinfandel, though excellent Cabs are produced too. There are at present 16 AVAs within Sonoma County, and, like much of the West Coast of the United States, new AVAs are created in Sonoma County with regularity. Some Sonoma appellations, such as the Russian River Valley, are renowned for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
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.