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Andre Tchelistcheff , the great Russian emigre winemaker/prophet, proclaimed that Carneros with its cool climate would one day produce Northern California’s best Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Though a few growers and sparkling wine producers in the 1970s heeded his call and began planting vineyards in the district, it took a few years for a winery to focus on making a true Carneros Chardonnay or Pinot Noir. One of the pioneers in this area was Saintsbury.

 Founded in 1981 by Richard Ward and David Graves (who had met in an oenology class at UC Davis) Saintsbury has always aimed to produce distinctive Pinot Noir and Chardonnay exclusively from the cool and windy terroir of Carneros. Starting small, success came quickly, with the winery growing to 35,000 cases within 10 years. Over the years, Saintsbury has focused almost entirely on single vineyard and appellation-designated Pinot Noir and Chardonnay – though recently it has begun to make wine from vineyards in the Anderson Valley and to produce some Carneros Syrah as well. Saintsbury was an early adopter of using varietal clones to improve their wine by, for example, planting a particular vineyard site with the most appropriate clones or by using clonal diversity to achieve more complexity. A few years ago, Saintsbury sold off its Garnet line of high value wines in order to focus on appellation-designated or single vineyard wines. Frenchman Jerome Chery, the winemaker since 2004, is a specialist in these sorts of wines.

Wine Maker

Tim Colla





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Wines from this Winery

SAINTSBURY Chardonnay Sangiacomo Vineyards Carneros

The secrets to Saintsbury’s energetic and zesty Chardonnay lie in the gentle hills, loam and clay soils, and cool summers of the Carneros region. The fruit is sourced from vineyards farmed by the Sangiacomo family for decades. These vineyards, planted to ten over clones of Chardonnay, play a role in the complexity and nuance of this wine, but decades of winemaking in Saintsbury’s cellars are also important. Burgundian techniques, such as sur lie aging, battonage, and limited use of new oak, extract flavor and ensure that fruit and natural acidity remain in perfect balance. Northern California in 2021 saw little rain over the winter and a few serious heat spikes in the summer, yet if there were a cooler, gentler location for grapes that year, it would be Carneros. While yields were low, the grape clusters and berries were smaller but more flavorful and concentrated than in other years. This is a zesty, energetic wine that pleases with fresh aromatics of lime and kumquats and flavors of tangy citrus and white peach. It will pair well with braised chicken with lemon and olives, grilled whole fish, or creamy cheeses.

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¥6,820 (incl. tax)
SAINTSBURY Chardonnay Sangiacomo Vineyards Carneros (375ml)
SAINTSBURY Pinot Noir Carneros

For a long time, it was thought Pinot Noir had no potential outside France – until California winegrowers began turning their eyes toward Carneros in the late 1960s. With the San Pablo Bay to the south and the Petaluma Gap to the west, Carneros had long been thought to be too foggy and windy for winegrowing until some intrepid folks realized the cool climate plus excellent soils were perfect for cultivating a finicky, early-ripener like Pinot Noir. Saintsbury was one of the first to plant Pinot Noir in Carneros. With vineyards planted to six clones Pinot Noir, their wines achieve great complexity and depth. The 2021 Saintsbury Carneros Pinot Noir offers a richly layered melange of dark cherry and wild strawberry flavors intertwined with hints of spice, cola, and mineral earth. The palate is ripe and seamless with silky tannins, characteristic of the region. The delicious fruit is balanced by a fresh core of juicy acidity.

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¥8,800 (incl. tax)
SAINTSBURY Pinot Noir Carneros (375ml)

Pinot Noir in handy 375 ml bottles — from one of the first California producers to bet on Pinot Noir and to bet on Carneros, at the southern end of the Napa Valley, as the best location to produce it. All these decades later, Saintsbury’s knowledge of soils, rootstock, clones, pruning, sustainable farming, and winemaking runs as deep as the roots of their oldest vines. And this is why year after year, the wines are so good. About the 2019, the winery writes, “Pretty but concentrated aromas of rose petal, dark cherries, cocoa, anise and cardamom. Sweet cherry and plum entry with a zesty mid palate reminiscent of baking spices, leading into an elegant, lingering finish. The richness of this wine pairs well with meats such as lamb, duck, and stewed curries, as well as artisanal cheeses and wild mushrooms.”

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¥4,180 (incl. tax)