In 1944, Chateau Souverain founder J. Leland "Lee" Stewart harvested his first crop of wine grapes from his Howell Mountain property in Napa Valley. From the next vintage, he produced his own wines, surprising many by winning silver medals at the California State Fair for his Zinfandel and Pinot Noir. In the years that followed, Stewart used innovation and his natural gift for winemaking to help establish Chateau Souverain as one of the great California wine brands. While the names, faces and location of the winery have changed, the tradition of fine-wine production continues at Chateau Souverain today.

A trendsetter, Stewart was among the first in California to concentrate on single-varietal, estate-style wines. He introduced Petite Sirah as a varietal; produced style-defining Zinfandels and German-style Johannisberg Rieslings, and mirroring the French, insisted that Chardonnay be fermented in wood rather than stainless steel. At the suggestion of his young daughter, Stewart named his winery "Souverain" (taken from the French word for "sovereign," or "supreme"). His Cabernet Sauvignon bottlings from the 1960s were considered by many to be just that.

Since that time the winery has changed hands, but has maintained the same commitment to quality as Stewart started in the 40's. Just as Stewart championed varietal bottlings, former winemaker Tom Peterson (1986-1996) established Chateau Souverain as a producer of varietal wines that showcase the best grapes from the best Sonoma County viticultural areas for each varietal. Current winemaker Ed Killian continues that focus, which identifies Alexander Valley as the best location for growing Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc; the cool-climates of Carneros and Russian River Valley for Chardonnay; and Dry Creek Valley for Zinfandel.

Chateau Souverain / 400 Souverain Road / Alexander Valley, Geyserville, CA 95441 / (888) 80-WINES

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