The majesty of Stags' Leap Winery astonishes many first-time visitors. Located on the east side of the Napa Valley, the 240-acre estate rests in its own intimate valley, graced with natural beauty, historic buildings, gardens, and a legendary reputation for elegant wines that express their unique terroir.
The terroir is so singular, in fact, that it inspired the formation of the Stags Leap viticultural district in 1989, nearly 100 years after the winery was founded. History buffs and romantics alike relish the tales about its storied grounds. The old stone Manor House was built in 1892 by the Chase Family, who named the estate Stags' Leap. Legends of bootleggers, gangsters, movie stars, ghosts, and gypsies follow, including a colorful chapter in the 1920s, when the Manor House served as one of the Napa Valley's most prominent country retreats.
But through the centuries marked by changes in family owners and fashions, one thing has remained constant: the land that grows Stags' Leap's superlative wines. The soils in this "valley within a valley" are diverse, yet mainly fall under two categories: volcanic, and gravely clay loam. Both soil types are coarse and retain little water, yielding intense fruit and rich wines that show remarkable finesse and intensity.
Winemaker and General Manager Christophe Paubert applies the winemaking philosophy he learned in his native France--to showcase the fruit and not the winemaker's hand--but he applies a technical understanding of the process. "I believe that wine should express the uniqueness of the land," Christophe says, "and Stags' Leap wines have always showcased one of the most distinctive regions in the Napa Valley."
Advanced appointments are necessary for those wishing to visit Stags' Leap, but those who make them are well rewarded. They can take the Historical Tour and Tasting through the property, or linger at the Manor House for a tasting. Either way, visitors experience the utter enchantment of Stags' Leap Winery and its celebrated wines.
WHAT TO BUY
'06 Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon, The Leap Blackberry, espresso, black truffle $75
'10 Viognier Floral and orange blossom aromas, ripe tangerine, fresh pear, apricot $25
Tasting by Appointment Only
6150 Silverado Trail
Napa, CA 94558
Private tasting and tours by appointment, picnic grounds, scenic view, wine club discounts, wine club events
[Image: Flickr user Σταύρος]