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Walnut Creek Magazine

Stags' Leap Winery Offers New Tasting Experiences in the Heart of its Namesake District

Nov 19, 2016 01:55PM ● By Fran Miller

Stags' Leap Winery Manor House

The vistas and vineyards one encounters along Napa Valley’s Silverado Trail are unquestionably awe-inspiring. With verdant views and well-known wineries dotting the 29-mile stretch, it’s an oenophile’s version of heaven. But many aren’t aware that the Valley’s truest celestial heights are just beyond the horizon to the east - behind nondescript roads and lanes that lead to even more magical valleys and breathtaking scenery. Stags’ Leap Winery is one of these places, and its beauty - and beautiful wines – beg to be discovered, or rediscovered.

Established in 1893, the 240-acre Stags’ Leap wine estate is located at the very heart of the Stags Leap District, off of the Silverado Trail and down a long, private road lined with Walnut Trees. One of California’s earliest wine estates, it’s a glorious place of natural beauty, storied buildings and gardens, a lively history, and elegant wines. Framed by dramatic palisades to the east, the estate is planted to 90 acres of vineyards – divided into 23 blocks that perfectly match each grape variety to its ideal soil type. Stag’s Leap’s unique terroir, ideal microclimate, and tradition of stewardship supports a classical standard of viticulture, land use, and winemaking that is as relevant today as it was more than 100 years ago.

Manor House living room

It is truly worth a visit – especially now that the 125 year-old, 10,000 square-foot Stags’ Leap Manor House mansion has been recently refurbished. The striking mansion is steeped in dramatic architecture and rich history; renovations began in 2014 to stabilize the exterior, including reinforcing the tower’s dramatic crenulation work and the original stone pillars that support its porch with steel and concrete. Every inch of exterior mortar was meticulously repointed by hand. The re-finished interior features the original coffered redwood ceilings, staircase, window cases, and other key architectural elements. The second floor was converted into a new tasting room, archive room, and lounge for wine club members, and Andy Warhol lithograph artwork from his Grapes series now adorn the house walls.

Manor House Ne Cede Malis room

The Manor House is a luxurious and beautiful place to relax and enjoy the wines of Stags’ Leap’s winemaker Christophe Paubert. "Just as our wines showcase one of the most distinctive regions in the Napa Valley, our Manor House and its extraordinary history showcase a wine tasting experience that is unlike any other,” says Paubert. "At Stags’ Leap, we go beyond the tasting room and use the property, its storied buildings, and open-ended gardens to take our guests on an exclusive tasting journey that celebrates our illustrious history.”

Manor House porch

Three new, unique tasting experiences are now available at Stags' Leap, offering visitors a perfect complement to the Manor House’s recent renovation: 

Heritage Library Tasting ($150): Hosted in the upstairs bedroom of the Manor House that features old photo albums, antique china, and other historic items, this exemplary behind-the-scenes tasting allows visitors the opportunity to enjoy a private tour of the Stags’ Leap estate followed by a sit down tasting of estate wines that include a library selection from the extensive winemaker’s library. Visitors can savor a rare library vintage while learning about the incredible history of winemaking at Stags’ Leap.

Winemaker’s Apothecary Garden Experience ($125): This tasting experience is set in the property’s beautiful outdoor garden that dates back to its founding era, and was recently revitalized by the Stags’ Leap winemaking team and landscape designer, Jonathan Plant. Filled with plants that evoke the essential aromas and flavors of the estate wines, the Winemaker’s Apothecary Garden is a gem of the estate. During this tour, guests learn the history of the property and stroll the garden experiencing the aromas that are so beautifully reflected in the wines. This experience concludes with a seated sensory tasting featuring aromatic elements selected from the garden and Stags’ Leap estate wines.

Ne Cede Malis Vineyard Tour ($125): Named after the estate’s founding Chase family motto (meaning ‘Don’t give in to misfortune’) this upscale petite sirah tasting experience focuses exclusively on the grape. With vines dating back to 1929, the tasting is conducted out in the Ne Cede Malis block, the estate’s oldest vineyard. It is planted to a traditional field blend of predominantly petite sirah with a mix of at least 16 other varieties including carignane, malbec, mourvedre, muscat cannelli, muscat hamburg, peloursin, tannat, burger, grenache, sauvignon blanc, gewürztraminer, syrah, cinsault, malvasia bianca, and calzin. Made in the traditional manner, the resulting one-of-a-kind Ne Cede Malis Petite Sirah is a co-fermentation of all of the above varieties, producing an incredibly complex and rich wine. Guests will enjoy a tour of this ancient vineyard block followed by a private petite sirah focused tasting including the Ne Cede Malis Petite Sirah.

All visits to Stags’ Leap Winery are by appointment only. 72 hours advanced notice required. Minimum group size of two, maximum group size of six. Available only on select days. To request a reservation, or for more information, click here.

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