Stay tuned --
Margo van Staaveren
"2006 marked Margo Van Staaveren’s 27th harvest at Chateau St. Jean. During the course of her 25+ year tenure with the winery, Margo has played a pivotal role in every facet of the winemaking process. As winemaker, she makes the final decisions involving blend and style to produce consistently high quality wines in the super premium and luxury category.
Margo is a firm believer that great wines are grown - a conviction she shares with the Chateau founders who led the way for Chateau St. Jean to become a pioneer of vineyard designated wines in the early 1970s. To achieve Chateau St. Jean vineyard designation, the superior quality of the vineyards must be proven year after year and the grapes must consistently exhibit exceptional varietal character.
The art of blending is the cornerstone of Margo’s winemaking philosophy. To her, one of the greatest accomplishments is to create a wine style or signature blend that carries from vintage to vintage while still capturing the uniqueness of that particular growing year.
One of the things she enjoys most about her job is putting together the final blend for the Reserve wines. “Since no two vintages are alike, it gives us the opportunity to carefully search for the vineyard lots that offer the biggest fruit expression and the ability to age in order to create a wine that truly captures the best of the vintage,” says Margo. The Reserve wines represent the most concentrated, distinctive and balanced wines made at Chateau St. Jean.
Margo Van Staaveren graduated from the University of California at Davis in 1979 with a Bachelor of Science in Fermentation Science. Shortly after graduation, she joined Chateau St. Jean as a Laboratory Technician in 1980. By 1989, she had worked her way to being named Assistant Winemaker and later named Associate Winemaker. Margo was named Winemaker and Director of Operations for Chateau St. Jean in August of 2003, continuing a rich legacy of winemaking as the fourth winemaker in the winery’s history." -- Chateau St. Jean
"Growing up in Sacramento , California , Laurie Hook never dreamed of becoming a winemaker. “I didn't even know the job existed,” she explains. “But then I found out that my family had owned a French Chateau (Chateau Olivier) before the revolution and it piqued my interest. Also, I loved history, science and agriculture, and the idea of doing something that connected you to the earth. And when I started tasting and reading about wine in college, I realized that winemaking brings all three disciplines together.”
Laurie transferred to the winemaking program at the University of California at Davis , training ground for noted winemakers in California and around the world. After graduation in 1984, she traveled to Australia to work in a small Melbourne-area winery for six months. “I did everything from pruning the vines, driving a tractor and harvesting the grapes to making and bottling the wine and even selling it. I got a real hands-on education as well as great travel. And I had the irreplaceable experience of looking up while pruning one day and seeing a kangaroo in the vineyard.” A harvest at a Sonoma County winery followed.
In 1986, Laurie came to Beringer as an enologist, a job that allowed her to solidify the scientific side of her training. In 1997, she was named Assistant Winemaker to Winemaster Ed Sbragia, and in 2000 was promoted to Winemaker for Beringer Vineyards.
“You can't make wine only through science,” says Laurie. “ California winemakers learned that in the 1970s and early 1980s, when a highly scientific approach resulted in very clean wines but not necessarily very interesting ones. Of course you need to understand the process by which wines are made, but now we've learned to trust our intuition as well. And I've learned from Ed that making great wines—wines that are unique—means taking risks.”
While Ed developed the styles for most of Beringer's wines over his 25-plus years at the winery, they continue to evolve as a result of the teamwork between the two winemakers. “When you've worked next to someone for almost 20 years, there's a trust that builds and our wines benefit from that,” explains Laurie.
Laurie is a member of the American Society of Viticulture and Enology, the Trellis Alliance, and the Napa Valley Wine Technical Group. Outside of the winery, Laurie has a myriad of interests and hobbies revolving around travel, gardening, the study of history, collecting antique and regional cookbooks and funny quotes about wine. She's also a passionate animal lover." -- Beringer Winery