Stags’ Leap Winery Chardonnay Napa Valley 2020

Medium gold color; apple, lemon-lime, pear, flowers on the nose; yellow apple, pineapple, grapefruit, Asian pear, melon, crème brûlée, honey, spice on the palate.

Stags’ Leap Winery Chardonnay Napa Valley 2020

Dry; rich in the mouth with some oiliness; medium body. Buttery and complex. Polished tannins. Fresh and crisp with appropriate acidity. Well-integrated oak. Minerality and spice on the finish. Fermented and aged in 25% stainless steel, 25% new oak, and 50% neutral oak for seven months. 100% chardonnay came mainly from the Carneros AVA, with a smaller percentage from Oak Knoll AVA. 13.5% ABV

Stags’ Leap is one of California’s oldest wineries. Horace Chase partnered with his uncle, W.W. Thompson, to found the estate on land where grapes had been planted by T.L. Grigsby in the 1880s. The manor house was built in 1890, and the first vintage was produced in 1893. The Chase family got the Stags Leap name from a native Wappo legend of a stag leaping to escape Native American hunters.

The mountains behind the property on the eastern side are known as the Stags Leap Palisades. While wine production was interrupted for extended periods—especially during Prohibition—wine grapes have continuously been grown on the property since its founding.

Stags’ Leap Winery Manor House

After 64 years of non-wine making (while still growing grapes for others), Carl Doumani resumed wine production at Stags’ Leap in 1972. In 2009, Christophe Paubert joined Stags’ Leap as head winemaker. He hails from Bordeaux and worked at the world-famous Château d’Yquem before joining Stags’ Leap.

Today, Stags’ Leap is owned by Treasury Wine Estates, a major international player in the wine world, making wine in 12 countries, selling more than 35 million cases of wine a year, and generating sales of more than $2 billion. Labels you may recognize beyond Stags’ Leap include Sterling Vineyards, Beaulieu Vineyard, Beringer, Chateau St. Jean, Greg Norman Estates, Lindeman’s, Wolf Blass, and Treasury’s flagship—Penfolds.

Stags’ Leap Winery alley
Stags’ Leap Winery Historic Winery Exterior

There also is a Stag’s Leap winery; notice the placement of the apostrophe. That winery won the Judgment of Paris in 1976 and is now owned by Ste. Michelle Wine Estate and Marchesi Antinori and is not connected to Stags’ Leap, makers of this wine. Both wineries are in the Stags Leap (note: no apostrophe) district of Napa.

Stags’ Leap Winery Chardonnay Napa Valley 2020 delivers impressive complexity and depth in the oak-and-butter genre of California chards. This is done with elegance and style. Smooth—very smooth and rich. Fresh, clean. Tasty fruit. An impressive Cali chard. Pair with pork; pasta with creamy sauces; seafood; crab cakes; rich fish; baked/broiled chicken; garden salads; Cobb salad; chicken caesar salad; vegetarian fare. Cheese—mild, semi-soft cheeses; mild blue cheese, gouda. $20-28

Stags’ Leap website

Wine harvest at Stags’ Leap
Stags’ Leap winemaker Christophe Paubert
Stags’ Leap barrel cave
Stags’ Leap Winery vineyard
Stags’ Leap vineyard
Stags’ Leap Winery Manor House Porch
Stags’ Leap Winery Manor House Living Room