View of the vineyards, Stags Leap District, Napa Valley, California
Here at Road Warrior, one of the things we really enjoy doing on our travels is going “off the beaten path”! In Napa Valley, known for its world-class wine production, “off the beaten path” isn’t easy to do…but we have found a hidden little gem in this wonderful destination: the Stags Leap District.
In 1976, the U.S. made its way onto the international wine making map. Before that time, American wine wasn’t respected in the same way as wine that originated in more renowned, old world wine countries like France or Italy. wine made international headlines when a Stag’s Leap appellated wine won the Paris Wine Tasting Competition of 1976. Also known as the “Judgment of Paris“, this was a blind tasting organized by a British wine merchant, who put some of the finest French Bordeaux names against California Cabernets. At the time, the prevailing opinion was that French Bordeaux was considered the best red wine. Thus, the shocking result of a California Cabernet from a Stag’s Leap vineyard winning the blind tasting was unheard of at the time!
Stags Leap District, Napa Valley
Stags Leap is known as the “valley within the valley” because it is a distinct district within the Napa Valley wine region of California. It is around one mile by three miles long, consisting of only around 2,700 acres of land. Only about 1,300 acres of this area is vineyards. Here, the soils are a result of volcanic eruption and old river sediment that has created soils with loams and clay-like substances that retain less water, stressing the grapes to yield fruit with an intensive flavour. The hot, sunny days turn into cool nights due to the marine air from the San Pablo Bay, which helps to achieve a strong balance of acid and sugar in the grapes to produce excellent wines.
Stags’ Leap Winery
One of our favourite wineries in the Stags Leap region is Stags’ Leap Winery — not to be mistaken for the Stag’s Leap Winery (note the position of the apostrophe!) which is also a fantastic winery and well-known for winning the Judgement of Paris competition in 1976.
Here are some photographs from Stags’ Leap Vineyard, one of the most beautiful vineyards in Napa Valley:
Tree-lined entrance to Stags’ Leap
The Chateau at Stags’ Leap
Harvest time in Napa Valley
Barrels in the cellar at Stags’ Leap Winery
Did you know: What makes a Bordeaux blend?
Although there isn’t a specific ratio or recipe for a red Bordeaux, the varietals typically used are: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec.
Claret and Meritage?
Because the Bordeaux name can only be used on wines from the appellation of Bordeaux in France, winemakers around the world have used other names to describe wine that emulates the Bordeaux blend. In the UK, the term “claret” has been used for hundreds of years, and in the US, a newer term called “meritage” has been used in an attempt to create an exclusive name for some of the best Bordeaux-like wines. A meritage alliance was formed in the US and use of the meritage name in North America incurs a trademark fee, often charged per bottle of wine produced using the meritage name.
Planning a visit to Stags Leap? If you are interested in visiting the Stags Leap district in California, a great place to start for more information is the Stags Leap District website: http://www.stagsleapdistrict.com/