Stags Leap Wineries And Wine Country

Located in the rocky foothills of the Eastern Napa Valley, several Stags Leap Wineries are set against a breathtaking backdrop of massive cliffs and rock formations. Legend has it that a stag lept off one of the cliffs to avoid a hunting party.


Several Stags Leap Wineries prospered in the late nineteenth century until Phylloxera and Prohibition devastated the area. After these two disasters, most of the vineyard acreage was converted to other agricultural crops.

In the early 1960s, Cabernet Sauvignon was planted in the rocky soils of the area for the first time. It was not long until the region began to gain fame for producing this magnificent varietal.

At the legendary 1976 blind tasting against France, the Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Cask 23 came in first place, accomplishing the impossible by beating several premium red wines from the Bordeaux region in France.

I recently opened a 1993 Cask 23 and was absolutely blown away. Definitely one of the sleeper years of the 1990s. This renowned winery also makes a very refreshing Sauvignon Blanc that I love to sip on warm afternoons.


The region is literally a small valley within the Napa Valley. Wind funnels through this microclimate and moderates temperatures. The AVA has a distinctive feel that translates into its unique terroir.

Stags Leap Wineries And Wine Country

The soil is not uniform, but is generally volcanic in the hills, and sedimentary in the lowlands approaching the Napa River. The area near the hills is quite eroded, exposing volcanic rock. The abundant volcanic rock in the mountain soils allows the land to drain very well, and causes vines to put all of their energy into a low, but intense fruit yield.

An outstanding example of these prime growing conditions is the Pine Ridge 1999 Andrus Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. Small amounts of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot, and Malbec are added to give this powerful, complex blend grace and balance. This wine’s combination of strength and approachability is characteristic of the Stags Leap AVA.

Varietals, Wines, and Wineries

You would be hard-pressed to find a more sought-after California wine than a Cabernet Sauvignon from the best Stags Leap Wineries. Cabernet Sauvignons from the region have been characterized as unabrasively intense. Merlot, Petite Sirah, and Sauvignon Blanc are also grown.

The region’s Winegrowers Association has a great site dedicated to Stags Leap Wineries in this small but renowned AVA. It has significant information on all of the regions’ wineries including Shafer Vineyards, Clos du Val, Stags Leap Winery, and Steltzner Vineyards, to name just a few.