Stags’ Leap Winery Blends History and Wine into the Estate Club
The Stags Leap District epitomizes Napa Valley’s sublime appeal. Winemakers and visitors alike are drawn in by the stunning landscape, renowned for its unique terroir, surrounded by microclimates that nurture some of the finest varietals in the world. It’s not surprising that so many regular guests to the Valley retrace their steps along the Silverado Trail to the Stags Leap District, where they can delve deeply into the region’s understated environs, a retreat from the Route 29 bustle. District discovery is hardly new, however; the Grigsby family recognized its appeal in 1872, when they consolidated 700 acres to form the Stags’ Leap estate. The family planted grapes that same year. Today, Stags’ Leap Winery guests absorb this rich history while tasting vintages that, like the estate itself, stand among few peers in Napa Valley and beyond.
Experience the magic this historic estate has to offer by joining the exclusive Stags’ Leap Estate Wine Club. The Club hearkens back to the 1920s when San Francisco socialites Horace and Minnie Chase hosted a cascade of esteemed friends at the estate each summer, providing an opportunity to take respite upon the manor’s grand
porch. Or, choose to recreate on the lawn and even explore Napa Valley’s first east side wine cave, “carved” by dynamite in 1892 from the volcanic rock that comprises the Palisades.
In addition to quarterly shipments of award-winning Stags’ Leap wines, Estate Club members can enjoy a pre-ordered lunch on the same veranda where Horace and Minnie watched over their nascent 80 acres of vineyards. Club members are also invited to experience as many as four complimentary estate tours and tastings per year. They may also reserve the speakeasy, porch, or bocce court for private tastings and other experiences. Members also receive a 20% discount off additional wine purchases, first selection of limited quantity wines and invitations to exclusive events at the estate as well as in many cities across the U.S.
Stags’ Leap Winery offers other membership opportunities in addition to the popular Estate Club. The Manor House Porch Society provides a great introduction to Stags’ Leap wines through a quarterly shipment of three to four bottles of exclusive wines that include winery-only labels not sold elsewhere. Similar to the Estate Club, the Case Club is ideal for collectors, providing a 12-bottle quarterly shipment of Stags’ Leap exclusive wines in combination with the winery’s finest Estate wines. Case Club members also enjoy a 20% discount on all additional wine purchases. As with every membership, delivery dates are flexible, and members can choose to customize wine selections to suit their preferences.
Like theater, lecture and other subscriptions, a wine club membership encourages us to expand our cultural horizons and delights us with the anticipation of special events, our excitement buoyed by an expected quarterly shipment or seasonal journey back to the Stags Leap District. Like the season’s premier performance, visiting Stags’ Leap Winery transcends the typical Napa Valley tasting experience, beginning with the estate tour that is included in every tasting experience.
Offered daily by appointment, the estate’s richly annotated tours give visitors the opportunity to partake in the estate’s colorful past, a history that includes the creation and loss of fortunes, episodes of disrepair and visions of past and present glory. Like many in San Francisco’s A-List society, Horace Chase squandered the family fortune on speculation, specifically on failed silver mines in Mexico, losing the Manor House and estate by default in 1909.
Clarence and Frances Grange purchased the property four years later, and the family lived in the Manor House full time until 1956. When Clarence was severely injured in a horse accident, Frances took the reins, creating Stags’ Leap Manor, the crème de la crème of Napa Valley resorts and inspired tall tales involving mummies and even monkeys. Ever the risk taker, Frances built a speakeasy in the Manor House basement during prohibition, inviting guests to climb through a trapdoor in the pantry floor to enjoy contraband below. The speakeasy is still a prized addition to the estate, accessible exclusively only to wine club members.
The Manor House remained largely vacant after its sale following the deaths of the Granges, though rumors of hippie squatters and weekend partiers abound in the local folklore. The property grew more destitute each year until 1970, when Los Angeles restaurateur and developer Carl Doumani resuscitated the property after becoming smitten on a Napa Valley getaway. A nine-year restoration preserved the Manor House and additional buildings. Of equal importance, Mr. Doumani also resumed making wine under the revered Stags’ Leap Winery label. The winery grew in volume and reputation, best known for its Petite Sirah, a varietal that developed a cult-like following among oenophiles.
Beringer Wine Estates (now Treasury Wine Estates) purchased Stags’ Leap Winery in 1996 and immediately began transforming the estate into one of Napa Valley’s premier destination wineries. The original 1893 wine cave was joined by a 28,000-square-foot adjacent cave, and an apothecary and sensory garden were also added, while the bocce courts were installed and buildings were restored to their previous grandeur. This pastoral setting, in tandem with the historic Manor House and exceptional winemaking, established Stags’ Leap as host to a storied and memorable visitors’ experience.
Visit the Stags’ Leap Winery website to learn more tales and explore a wine club membership.
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