Exploring Stags Leap District Unknown Wineries

This last weekend, as discussed in our April 15, 2013 post, was the Stags Leap’s District annual celebration of the appellations vintners and wines. We attended one of the Vineyard to Vintner Weekend’s three events:

Saturday’s Open Houses in which 19 wineries opened their facilities and their caves for tours, meet-the-winemaker events, music and merriment. Then of course, there were tastings: new release tastings, barrel tastings, cheese pairings, olive oil and vinegar tastings and pairings with everything from steak, barbeque and pizza to in-season berries, chocolate and cupcakes. Plus we had the opportunities to visit stately hospitality houses, sit on the decks of tasting room and winemaker’s homes, and sip some of our favorite Cabs while staring out at the beautiful Napa scenery. Life was good!

view-g (2)IMG_4377Cliff Lede Winerygrillfood tentShafer Hospitality House

Although we skipped Clos Du Val’s 8:30 AM “Breakfast of Champions” kick-off, and some of the formal pairings (such as Silverado wine and cheese pairing seminar, we managed to visit about 15 of the wineries.

We certainly visited some of our favorites—Chimney Rock, Cliff Lede, Hartwell and Pine Ridge—and some of the other larger producers that we don’t often get to, such as Silverado, Shafer and Clos Du Val. We enjoyed the opportunity to visit facilities not normally open to the public and to speak with winemakers. We particularly appreciated being able to taste a number of seldom-tasted or not normally available wines and see how they pair with different foods and cheeses. Among our most memorable of these big winery discoveries were:

  • Silverado’s 2009 SOLO SLD cab (especially when paired with Beecher’s Flagship Reserve cow’s milk cheese) and 2010 Limited Late Harvest, which is only made during years with appropriate Botrytis (paired with a Point Reyes Blue drizzled with honey);
  • Cliff Lede’s bargain Sauvignon Blanc ($23), 2009 Poetry and especially its 2010 rock block Landslide Fire cab;
  • Pine Ridge’s FORTIS Cab;
  • Shafer’s 2010 Hillside Select cab;
  • Chimney Rock’s 2006 Tomahawk and 2008 Alpine , as well as its always enjoyable SLD Cab and refreshing Elevage Blanc; and
  • Odette’s sister winery, Cade’s (both of which are members of the Plumpjack family of wines) 2009 Howell Mountain Cab (which reinforced our commitment, after the recent Howell Mountain event, to better explore this appellation.

The real treat, however, was to visit a number of tiny SLD (Stag’s Leap District) wineries that are not typically open to the public, and some of which we had never before know of: Wineries including Malk, Robinson, Taylor Family and two of our new favorites: Ilsley and Lindstrom. Among our favorites of these wines were:

  • Robinson Family’s 2009 RFW Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon;
  • Isley’s 2005 Cab; and
  • Lindstrom’s 2010 Cab and 2009 Nicali Blend (with 80% Cab and 20% Zin).

Overall, a fun party, a wonderful opportunity to taste new wines (especially when artfully paired with complementary foods) and especially, to discover exciting small wineries that had not previously been on our radar.

We are already looking forward to next year’s V2V weekend.

Vineyard to Vintner weekend

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