Nicky’s Blog: Discovering Napa
It’s safe to say I know Washington. I’ve been a Washingtononian my entire life. Having lived all over the State, I have had the privilege of witnessing the vast beauty and majestic quality of each corner of our large and wild state. With that said, this blog post in particular takes us to a different State – one that is also vast and rugged, but one that is known more for their exquisite wine country, beaches and previous Austrian bodybuilding Governor; California.
When I accepted my role as wine steward at Sun Mountain Lodge I felt secure in my knowledge of Washington AVA’s. After all, I was born and raised in one of my favorite AVA’s, Ancient Lakes. Despite WA being in the 2nd largest wine producing State in the United States, our guests kept inquiring about our collection of wine from California. I was able to answer most questions, with comfort and ease, having studied and tasted the wines in our collection. However, reading and tasting from our own cellar didn’t feel like enough to me, I started to feel distanced from the wine I was drinking. I am a huge believer in having a connection to wine that I love, seeing the soil it came from, smelling the air the grapes have matured in, personally witnessing the labor of love that goes into each bottle of wine. I knew the only way to achieve that was to see it with my own eyes.
So, a couple nudges and winks later, I persuaded my husband that our next vacation had to be Napa Valley. As the Executive Chef at the Lodge, and Napa being known for its exquisite cuisine, he was more than willing to comply. Our timing was impeccable, as the Covid 19 pandemic hadn’t reared its ugly head yet, and we were able to enjoy Napa with an air of normalcy that we all so crave now.
Upon arrival, we settled into our accommodations and went about exploring Napa. We visited a plethora of wonderful wineries, ate divine dishes and made memories that will last us a lifetime – or at least until this pandemic is over. Despite there being so many amazing wineries in Napa to choose from, one winery in particular stood out the most, Stags Leap Wine Cellars. Its rich history, extraordinary wines and breathtaking winery were enough to solidify them as my top choice.
Entering Stags Leap that day, I was swept away by the property’s beauty. The panoramic views of the valley were flanked by whimsical sculptures and row upon row of vines that seemed to disappear into the distance. Stag’s Leap consists of two main vineyards, the SLV and the Fay. The two vineyards adjoin one another, but each one has a very different and unique terroir despite the proximity to each other. The SLV vineyard’s soil is predominantly volcanic soil that brings a spicy intensity to the wine. While the soil in Fay is more alluvial, it yields more water bringing a softer more fruit forward quality to the wine. After touring the vineyards we entered a series of tunnels where we were greeted with a glass of Aveta Sauvignon Blanc to accompany us on our journey. The Aveta had a beautiful citrus and herbal quality that we thoroughly enjoyed with every sip we took.
As we made our way through the caves, we were able to taste through all of the lovely Cabernet Sauvignons that Stags Leap had to offer, and let me tell you, there are many. Stag’s leap signature style to their wines is best described as “an Iron fist in a velvet glove.” At the end of our grand tour at the visitors center, we learned about the 1976 Paris tasting, where Stags Leap Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon won a blind tasting against some of Bordeaux’s top Chateaus. This historic event was pivotal in putting California on the map as a top wine producing region.
Visiting Stag’s Leap was such a memorable experience, one that will, no doubt, stay with my husband and I for many years to come. It thrills me that I am able to sell Stags Leap wine to our guests at the Lodge. Every time a customer orders a bottle of Stag’s Leap Cab Sauv, I happily make my way to the cellar, dust off a bottle, and am blessed to be able to relive that day at the vineyard like it was yesterday.
Please contact me at ext. 707 to purchase a bottle of their 2015 vintage! Hurry- this vintage won’t last long before we sell out and move on to a younger vintage!
“My love for food and wine is due to the social aspect of sharing the experience with my family and friends.”