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Walnut Creek Magazine

Napa’s Black Stallion Winery is Riding High

Oct 02, 2019 11:57AM ● By Fran Miller


Black Stallion Winery and its 38-acre property, located at the southern end of Silverado Trail in the Oak Knoll AVA, just might be one of wine country’s best kept secrets. The winery’s stunning hospitality center, opened in 2007, is a favorite of those ‘in-the-know’ who gather for convivial membership parties and holiday celebrations. But it’s not just the lively hospitality offerings that have visitors returning again and again. The wines – many of which fly inexplicably under the radar - are spectacularly good.

Part of Delicato’s Transcendent portfolio, Black Stallion produces a number of wines categorized as Prestige (extremely limited, hand crafted wines – don’t miss the robust Bucephalus red blend, named ‘on-theme’ for Alexander the Great’s favored horse), Limited Release (estate and single vineyard labels – try the Poseidon Vineyard Chardonnay), and Heritage (larger productions, easily found throughout the US – the Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is always a winner). Additionally, lucky Black Stallion members have access to Member Exclusives.


Most of the wines are available for tasting via a number of thoughtfully curated experiences – each of which can be customized to customer preference. Increasingly rare is the ability to ‘drop in’ at Napa tasting rooms, but Black Stallion’s high ceilinged, central gathering spot welcomes one and all. Belly up to the large, rectangular bar for flights of red, Cabernet Sauvignon, or Prestige Collection wines. In warmer weather, head out to the lush garden terrace for your tasting where you’ll encounter the winery’s small demonstration vineyard labeled row by row by variety – 17 in all. The differences – from bud break to veraison – are vibrantly illustrated here. For those who are planners, reserve one of the winery’s elevated and educational tasting experiences, such as ‘The Many Faces of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon,’ where you’ll tour the estate, discuss the differences in the area’s soils, test your new knowledge of the area’s sub regions by blind tasting Black Stallion cabs, and marvel at the artistry of Black Stallion’s director of winemaking Ralf Holdenried.


Says Holdenried, “Winemaking begins in the vineyard. Location, climate, soils, picking decisions are all important factors that determine the quality of our wines. I am fortunate to work with some of the finest growers in the Napa Valley. They are committed to farming to our standards in the best vineyards and AVAs in the region.” 

When blending, such as for the exceptional Bucephalus - harvested from select vineyards throughout Napa, including those within Howell Mountain and Atlas Peak - there is no set recipe for Holdenried. It’s not uncommon for him to try dozens of trial blends before deciding on a final cuvée. The goal is always the same: to create a seamless, harmonious wine that captures the varietal’s best expression of that vintage in Napa Valley. 

Unlike most Napa wineries, Black Stallion’s winemaking facility is entirely indoors – thanks to the property’s former life as an equestrian center where a once massive indoor arena now serves as the winery’s production and bottling house. Further homage to the property’s former life is obviously in the winery’s name and imagery. A life size black stallion sculpture graces the winery’s entrance, and ranch-style amenities such as ‘good luck’ horseshoes can be purchased within the visitor center. But if you’ve already found yourself at Black Stallion, wine glass in hand, you’ve all the luck you need. 


4089 Silverado Trail, Napa

Photos courtesy of Black Stallion Winery

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