Chandon’s pioneer heritage dates back to the actual invention of champagne. In 1690 a French monk by the name of Dom Pérignon stumbled upon a wine with a magical sparkling effervescence while acting as cellarmaster of a Benedictine abbey in Hautvillers. Recognizing something important about this felicitous accident, he set out to unlock the secret to its process and ultimately developed the traditional champagne method, or méthode champenoise.
In 1743 Moët & Chandon was founded by Claude Moët in Champagne, France. The company soon acquired the Benedictine Abbey and its legacies and named one of their champagnes-now world-renowned Dom Pérignon-after the monk who started it all.
But expansion to the United States did not begin until 1968 when Count Robert Jean deVogué, a war hero and Resistance leader who was the chairman of the board of Moët-Hennessy (a partnership between Moët & Chandon and cognac producer Hennessy) became taken with the notion of producing sparkling wines in California. deVogué retired before watching his idea come to fruition, but before he departed in 1972 he reminded his predecessors that Champagne stocks were low, demand was rising, and California was promising. One year later his dreams of California winemaking became a reality.
In 1973 Moët-Hennessy sought prime growing locations in Napa Valley that would support their commitment to producing the finest American méthode champenoise sparkling wine. They found it in Mt. Veeder, Carneros-a virtually undiscovered region cooled by bay breezes, and the Yountville location we now call home.
Next the new venture, which became Domaine Chandon, planted vineyards and designed an architectural and ecological winery that blends into its surroundings and reflects Chandon’s legacy of excellence. Our first sparkling wine was released in 1976 and in 1977 our Visitor Center opened its doors, marking the first French-owned sparkling wine venture in the United States.
But that was just one of many firsts for the new winery known as Domaine Chandon. We were also the first California sparkling wine producer to be established by a French house using only the traditional method, the first to introduce smaller containers to preserve delicate grapes during harvest, the first California winery to use Pinot Meunier in its sparkling wines, and in 1977 the first to bring four-star dining to Napa Valley.
Nearly three decades later we continue to look forward while embracing the past. A combination of Old and New World tradition with a wealth of California winegrowing experience, Chandon, now a division of Chandon Estates along with Chandon properties in Argentina, Australia, and Brazil, remains a leading super and ultra-premium sparkling wine producer in the United States. Our welcoming winery is still set on the beautiful property amidst expansive landscaping and spring-fed ponds. We remain unique in offering visitors the opportunity to dine in a four-star restaurant where they can experience the versatility of California sparkling wine and expand their knowledge of food and wine pairing.
But like our French forefathers we continue to chart new paths. We are leaders in sustainable farming and continue to look for ways to grow the finest fruit while preserving our environment for future generations. We parlayed our experience with the classic sparkling wine varietals of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay into an exciting varietal wine collection. We are also constantly seeking new ways to heighten our reputation as the most complete winemaking and hospitality experience in Napa Valley.