In 1993 Stags' Leap marked its centennial with the largest celebration of this era. The festivities also signified the estate's evolution into the modern age, a passage which coincided with the most dramatic quarter-century in California wine history.

A watershed event was Winemaker Robert Brittan's arrival at Stags' Leap in 1988. Drawn here by the potential of the valley's estate vineyards, most notably the 50-year-old plot of Petite Syrah that has yielded Stags' Leap's signature wine, Brittan and his team of bright young winemakers soon began creating vintages of undeniable grace and finesse.

Nearly all the vineyards were replanted to: cabernet sauvignon, merlot, petite syrah and syrah. The original family home and winery were modernized, the gardens revitalized. A new white wine winery was built for the vinification and aging of Stags' Leap Chardonnay, while an enhanced red wine production and aging facility paved the way for the addition of Reserve Merlot and Reserve Petite Syrah.

Like those before them, Brittan and his team have carefully maintained the inherent character of this famous estate. And in the process, have discovered the secrets at work beneath the earth's surface that foster the very soul of the wines to come. They know that in one section beneath an alluvial frosting are layers of volcanic rock in a continuous state of decomposition, from rock to shale and finally to particles of clay.

Observing the vines which spring from this soil, by noting the girth of the trunk and the spread of the foliage, they can anticipate the yield and character of the fruit. And though the fruit won't fully develop its true nature until in the barrel, careful observation has revealed that vineyard blocks impart decidedly unique flavor characteristics and are intended to be harvested at different times. For example, an early harvested block of merlot delivers firm structure and flavor, a closed nose and suggestions of strawberry and chocolate. Four weeks later, the same varietal in a neighboring block yields aromas of plum, blackberry and briar and a velvety soft mouthfeel to compliment the blend.

By listening to the land, by coming to know its every nuance and mood, this new generation of winemakers has learned to coax from this valley wines befitting the Stags' Leap legacy. It is such relentless observation and sensitivity that enables this team to make today such an exciting time in Stags' Leap history.

Stags' Leap Winery / 6150 Silverado Trl. / Napa, CA  94558 / 707-944-1303

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