Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars
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When speaking of vines and vineyards, the conversation eventually makes its way to the subject of rootstock and clones. Both can contribute to the quality of the grapes the vineyard produces. To understand these terms the best place to start is with the grape vine.
Preparations for harvest begin as the end of summer approaches. Pay close attention if you visit in August and you see the effort that goes into ensuring all the equipment is ready to run for long hours once harvest begins. In contrast, the vineyard looks like a peaceful oasis.
An apologue (ap- uh- log) is a dramatic story meant to convey a useful lesson or truth. And so goes the story of Nathan Fay, the grape-growing pioneer who first planted Cabernet Sauvignon in the region now known as the Stags Leap District. At the time, there were those who scoffed at the notion of planting Cabernet in the cooler climate south of Yountville. Nathan proved the skeptics wrong by growing grapes and producing wines of extraordinary flavor and texture. The FAY vineyard and Stags Leap District would become recognized as one of the world’s greatest areas for growing Cabernet Sauvignon.
It was slow to start, with heavy spring rains, and a very cool summer. A summer long on sweaters and short on, well, shorts. A season delayed by 2-3 weeks and a lot of bets that the last grapes would be greeted at the weigh station by Thanksgiving turkeys. There was a high incidence of mildew in specific locations throughout the North Coast and the ensuing leafing in the fruit zone for exposure to more sunshine was meant to help maturity. Then Mother Nature was fickle and drenched the vineyards in a searing heat. The mildew was abated, but the sunburn and berry shriveling were now the issue. There was a lot of hand-wringing and grumbling, some were convinced that swarms of locust would arrive any minute. Some veterans were saying, "Never seen anything like this before" and "we'll never be able to get all these grapes in before the rainy season."
When most people look at a vineyard, they see an orderly series of vine rows marching off to a distant vanishing point. But for Kirk Grace, Vineyard Manager at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, the sight is something more akin to the movie “A Bug’s Life.” He knows that beneath the neatness and symmetry there is a wealth of activity —animal, plant, and insect life. It’s a world-within-a-world, and although most people are unacquainted with it, in spring, it preoccupies Kirk on a daily basis.
Estate Wine Library
Visit our Estate Wine Library where we share the original tasting notes from the winery as well as notes and comments from our winemaking team and collectors based on tastings over the years.