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In partnership with Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars

Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars: Vines for the Ages

This winery will continue to set the benchmark for decades to come.

By Elite Traveler

Since the 1970s, California’s lauded wine region Napa Valley has ruled the roost when it comes to Old World-beating Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s an underdog tale for the ages, ripe with echoes of David vs Goliath as the plucky upstarts from Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars — just six years old at that time — went toe-to-toe against the historic big shots from Bordeaux. It was an auspicious beginning that would lead to a bright future.

Established in 1970 following the purchase of Stag’s Leap Vineyard (S.L.V.), Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars wouldn’t have to wait long to achieve recognition. In 1976 there was a showdown, an international blind tasting now referred to as the Judgment of Paris — mythological connotations very much intended.

Six bottles of American Cabernet Sauvignon were pitted against four esteemed bottles of French first- and second-growth Bordeaux. Much to the dismay of those present — including the entirely French judging panel — Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars 1973 S.L.V. Estate Cabernet Sauvignon was named the victorious red. Napa Valley’s pedigree as a wine region was secured. To this day, a bottle of 1973 S.L.V. sits inside The Smithsonian; in 2013 it was named as one of the ‘Objects that Made America.’

For most, that’s where the story ends — but for the team at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, this historic victory was just the start. Since then, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars has built upon that initial success. Today the wine is found in cellars and fine dining establishments around the world. Guests can also experience the wine and vineyards at its FAY Outlook & Visitor Center, designed by Barcelona-based architect Javier Barba.

The pinnacle of Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars offering is the Estate Collection. Crafted by winemaker Marcus Notaro with fruit exclusively from the S.L.V. and FAY vineyards surrounding Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, these Cabernet Sauvignons express a complexity and subtle richness that build upon the winery’s early success. Notaro says you can enjoy these now or gracefully age them for decades.

In June 2023, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars trajectory was further solidified as it transitioned to full ownership under the Antinori family, one of the most renowned wine families in the world. This winery will continue to set the benchmark of what to expect from world-class Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon for decades to come.

Take Three / Estate Collection

Left to right: FAY, S.L.V. and CASK 23 Estate Cabernet Sauvignons / ©Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars

S.L.V. Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

The bottle that changed it all: This wine continues the legacy of 1973 — expect concentrated dark fruit flavors with elegant tannins alongside impressive structure and a pleasant minerality. $200

FAY Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

Sourced from a vineyard first planted by Nathan Fay in 1961, the first Cabernet Sauvignon planted in what is now the Stags Leap District AVA. Expect complex aromas of blue fruit, licorice and floral spice with fresh fruit flavors on the palate. $160

CASK 23 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

Combining the perfume notes of FAY and the dark fruit and structure of S.L.V, CASK 23 is harvested from specific blocks in each vineyard. The result is a wine with a vibrant mouthfeel and blackberry and currant flavors. $300

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