I’ve been lucky enough to travel to some pretty magical places in my lifetime. From the Far East to Europe, India and the Caribbean. Nothing can top the thrill of being wowed on American soil though. This past weekend I was able to experience the truly amazing area of Napa, California for a whirlwind 24 hours.
In all honesty, this trip was a bucket list item for me. To be able to see the vineyards first-hand, touch and try the grapes and learn the storied history of how the wine country came to be put me beside myself. The area we meandered is called “Stags Leap District” and is home to many of the most elegant Cabernet Sauvignons grown on American soil. The Stags Leap District, barely a mile wide and three miles long, is planted with 1,350 acres of vineyards. In 1976, long before the government designated the area as an official American Viticultural Area, a 1973 vintage Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon swept the famed Paris tasting, besting the likes of First Growths Mouton-Rothschild and Haut-Brion. Today, Stags Leap District wineries such as Chimney Rock continue to produce Cabernet Sauvignons that compare favorably with the world’s greatest wines.
Between history lessons, we were able to visit 3 very exciting and different vineyards. We began our day at Chimney Rock, an estate where only red Bordeaux-variety grapes were planted – forty acres of Cabernet Sauvignon, twelve acres of Merlot, four acres of Cabernet Franc, and three acres of Petit Verdot, before the estate grew. We were treated to a private sampling of their finest wines, the Tomahawk Cabernet was my favorite. The estate even produces “Iconoclast”, a wine exclusive to the Four Seasons Resorts.
When we got hungry, we were lucky enough to make our way to the home of the owners of the Cavus Vineyards. Originally from Dallas, the owners are proud of Cavus and keep it a family run vineyard nestled in the hillside of the Stag’s Leap appellation in Napa Valley. We were treated to a market fresh lunch and tasted a few of their prime select pours. The vines themselves are 27 years old and are mostly made up of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot which are planted on just under 2 acres facing to the northwest. Beth Adams, a former Dallasite turned local winemaker, led us down to the breathtaking Steltzner Vineyards after lunch where we met with winemaker Bob Pepi. We got up close and personal with the grapes which was so cool given that is harvesting season. Pepi gave us a detailed breakdown of the winemaking process, a history of Steltzner and even let us taste the grapes. Trust me they are better in your glass.
Our last stop of the day was at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, notably known for being the winery that won the Cabernet Sauvignon competition in the 1976 Judgment of Paris, was founded in 1970, and is considered a Napa Valley first-growth estate. This estate holds a special place in my heart as ARTEMIS Cabernet Sauvignon is my anniversary wine and boy is it delicious. We were able to handily sip and taste our way through many of the offerings and left with an education in wine for sure.
If you are looking for a place to stay while in the area, let me recommend the Andaz Napa. Not only is it centrally located but the rooms are super chic and quaint for the rustic surroundings.
Check off your dreamy vacation and get an education in one of our country’s most beautiful areas, Napa Valley and the Stags Leap District.