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Virtual Wine Tasting Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars for their 50th Anniversary with Marcus Notaro, Steven

Marcus Notaro

Winemaker @Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars

Marcus Notaro has been the head winemaker at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars since 2013. Prior to that, Notaro was winemaker for Col Solare, a prestigious winery located in the Red Mountain appellation of Washington State. Notaro’s understanding of the Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars signature wine style – one of elegance and balance, ripeness and restraint – as well as his ability to express both the terroir of the vineyard and the true varietal character of the grape make him ideally suited for continuing the winemaking legacy at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars.

Steven Spurrier

Steven Spurrier is one of the world’s leading authorities on wine. He is a celebrated critic, retailer, teacher and consultant – as well as the visionary behind the legendary Judgment of Paris. This blind tasting in 1976 unexpectedly elevated the status of California wine and promoted the expansion of wine production in the New World. He is also the founder of the Academie du Vin and Christie's Wine Course, in addition to authoring and co-authoring several wine books. He is based in England and has an English Sparkling Wine project, in Dorset, called Bride Valley Vineyards.

Gwendolyn Osborn

Wine Educator

Gwendolyn Osborn’s great enthusiasm for wine is matched only by her encyclopedic knowledge of it. She has been navigating the wine world for over 18 years, working with institutions such as Wine Spectator and, and earning the prestigious Diploma from the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET) along the way. She is also a certified Bordeaux educator and specializes in the region. Her goal is to help consumers understand what they like and how to describe it, though introducing someone to a new wine that makes them say “wow” is her greatest delight!

The name KARIA (KAR-ee-ah) is derived from the Greek word meaning graceful, and this wine lives up to its moniker. It shows how grapes from select cool-climate vineyards in southern Napa Valley can be vinified and blended into a seamless integration of fresh-fruit aromas and flavors, crisp acidity and subtle oak spice. Light and graceful: that’s KARIA.

Named after the Greek goddess of the hunt, ARTEMIS is a wine that truly reflects its name. It’s the culmination of our hunt for the finest grapes from Napa Valley which, when combined with estate-grown fruit, combine to create a Cabernet Sauvignon that expresses the regional character of Napa Valley with the signature style of Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars.

S.L.V., also known as Stag’s Leap Vineyards, is the winery’s first vineyard. Planted in 1970, this vineyard achieved international fame when three year-old vines from the 1973 harvest produced a wine that stunned the wine world when it bested some of France’s greatest wines in a 1976 blind tasting known as the “Judgment of Paris.” Today, this history-making vineyard continues to produce wines with layers of complexity, spicy intensity and excellent structure. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon; 21 months in 100% new French oak

The rich history of Napa Valley wineries dates to the first commercial vineyard established by John Patchett in 1858, which was followed in 1861 by the winery of Charles Krug. The diversity of the soil and Mediterranean climate of the Valley made it a likely setting for those with vineyard ambitions. Although historical records verify that wine production was occurring in the mid-19th Century, it was not until the 1960’s that premium wine production was happening in Napa Valley.

Expansion of the industry continued in Napa Valley over the decades with the steady growth of planted grape vines, wineries and production. The wines of Napa Valley captured the Spotlight of World Class Vintages at the Paris Wine Tasting of 1976. Organized by a British Wine Merchant, French wines were pitted against the California wines in blind tests, which became known as the Judgement of Paris and the Napa Valley California Wines were highly awarded.

The nine blindfolded judges who were chosen owing to their impeccable credentials selected the 1973 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars S.L.V. Cabernet Sauvignon as the best. This extraordinary victory by Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars with only their second production of S.L.V. Cabernet Sauvignon was an esteemed accomplishment for the winery and a victory for Napa Valley.

Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars was founded in 1970 by a Warren Winiarski, who although educated in scholarly classics decided that his life’s mission would be wine making while on a visit to Italy. The now more than 400 wineries of Napa Valley, California are happy that he chose winemaking over scholarly pursuits. The historic win by the 1973 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars S.L.V. Cabernet Sauvignon put Napa Valley on the world wine stage as a producer of premium wines that could compete and beat the vineyards of the old world.

The story of Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars begins with a tasting with winery owner Nathan Fay, whose vineyards were nestled below the Stags Leap Palisades, named from an Indian legend that claimed the Stag or Stags would leap from peak to peak during the full moon.

In 1970 Mr. Winiarski purchased 44 acres of prune orchards, replanting them with grapes for Cabernet Sauvignon with a bit of Merlot vines and naming his new venture Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars. The first vintage of S.L.V. Cabernet Sauvignon was produced a mere two years later, followed by the historic winning vintage of 1973. In 1996 a bottle of the renowned winning vintage was placed in the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History.

A new Fay Outlook and Visitor Center designed with Barcelona influenced architecture opened in 2014 adding to visitor enjoyment and comfort while sampling the award-winning wines and vistas of this diverse vineyard property.

Providing an informative, interesting and exciting tour, guides are well versed in intricacies of vineyard care, grape harvesting and wine making. Just inside the entrance to the wine caves is the Great Room, lit by hammered copper sconces shining off the shimmering quartzite floors. The ARCADE, which continued the design of Barcelona Architect Javier Barba, features graceful arches opening to the exposed rock formations and soil for extraordinary views of the Stags Leap Palisades.

During the tour, visitors will be mesmerized by 34,000 square feet of tunnels within the caves, which protect the approximately 6,000 barrels of various vintages marking time until their unveilings. The focal point of the cave network, hanging in the Round Room, is one of only 50 Foucault pendulums that meticulously marks the passage of time required to produce fine wine.

The 1973 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars S.L.V. Cabernet Sauvignon is on display and there are numerous other pieces of wine history available for visitor enjoyment. While absorbing the history, art, and architectural nuances of this winery, you will partake in sampling an iconic wine collection that highlights a perfected ARTEMIS Cabernet Sauvignon, KARIA Chardonnay, and an Aveta Sauvignon.

Some photos and text courtesy Stag's Leap Wine Cellars.

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