Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars recently released their 2020 FAY & S.L.V. wines, inviting wine club members and fans to taste the new vintages while strolling through the vineyards. Vineyard Operations Director Kirk Grace and Winemaker Luis Contreras led the way, showcasing rows of budding grapes on a hot day at the historic FAY vines.
The group made five stops to taste the new releases and some older wines before enjoying an outdoor lunch under ancient oak trees. Every day feels like National Wine Day at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars.
Kirk has been managing the winery for 17 years, while Luis has worked there for 26 years, starting from a cellar worker to now winemaker. Luis works closely with Winemaker Marcus Notaro and Kirk Grace to produce elegant Napa Valley wines.
During his visits to the vineyards, Luis inspects the different stages of vine and grape growth to evaluate their performance. With a discerning palate, Luis, along with Notaro, closely monitors the progress of every batch during the aging process.
As Cellar Master, Luis also oversees all cellar and bottling operations. He explains, “Being part of something that changes people’s lives is priceless. Wine expresses the varietal characteristic, the growing region, and winemaking techniques. It involves many people working together towards one goal and has the potential to create unforgettable memories.”
Guests had the opportunity to taste the Elia Rosé, a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon made from Fay Block 1. This light pink wine offers notes of strawberry, pink lemonade, and watermelon with refreshing acidity and lingering cranberry and cherry flavors. The wine retails for $45 and is perfect for spring and fall backyard lunches or dinners.
The Stags Leap District (AVA) gets its name from a legend of a large stag standing at the V notch of a rocky hill, evading hunters. The land was designated the Stags Leap District due to its unique terroir, especially suitable for Cabernet Sauvignon. “Every vineyard has a story,” says Luis.
In 1969, Warren Winiarski met Nathan Fay, who offered him some handmade wine that filled the room with beautiful aromas. After purchasing 40 acres and starting to make wine, Winiarski’s 1973 S.L.V. Cabernet Sauvignon won a blind tasting in Paris, putting Stag’s Leap and Napa Valley on the map. The winning bottle now resides in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.
During the tour, guests were able to taste the 2018 HEART OF FAY Cabernet Sauvignon, made with 95% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc. This wine offers dark berries, cherry, and rose petal aromatics with a lush texture and lingering berry and cedar notes. The wine is made from grapes grown in different soil characteristics, resulting in a flavorful and structured wine.
The 2018 FAY HILLSIDE, grown higher up the hill, offers a classic aroma of dark fruit with hints of ripe cherry, hazelnut, and salted caramel. It has a rich texture, fine tannins, and notes of cocoa and coffee on the finish. The wine retails for $155.
Guests also had the opportunity to taste the 1987 S.L.V. Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2016 S.L.V. Cabernet Sauvignon, both made from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. The 1987 vintage offers a dark fruit aroma with hints of black olive, while the 2016 vintage has aromas of currants, violets, and dusty cocoa powder. Both wines retail for $1,100 a bottle.
The tour concluded with a wine country lunch under the trees, featuring dishes such as brisket, chicken thighs, pulled pork, and smoked salmon paired with the 2020 FAY Estate Cabernet Sauvignon and 2020 S.L.V Estate Cabernet Sauvignon.
Marchesi Antinori recently purchased the winery, brand, inventory, and 300 acres of Napa vines, including the Fay and S.L.V. vineyards. The winemaking staff will remain, continuing to produce unique and elegant Stag’s Leap wines. Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars produces approximately 150,000 cases per year.
If you find yourself in Napa Valley, be sure to make a reservation for one of many immersive tastings offered throughout the year.