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.
Carneros AVA, also known as Los Carneros, is at the southern end of the Napa and Sonoma Valleys at the top of the San Francisco Bay. The 8,000 vineyard acres are mostly planted to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, both of which thrive in the district’s cool, marine climate. Carneros became an AVA in 1983 and it has attracted foreign wine companies along with local producers. It has been especially appealing to European producers of sparkling wines including the giant Spanish cava producers Codorniu and Frexinet, and the French Champagne house Taittinger. Codorniu in Carneros is called Artesa, and Frexinet’s Carneros brand is Gloria Ferrer. Taittinger calls its Carneros winery Domaine Carneros. The European producers also make still wines in Carneros.
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.