A Little Rock ‘n’ Roll and Wine at Cliff Lede Vineyards
Walk into your typical wine tasting room and what sounds do you expect to hear? It’s likely to be the clinking of glasses and maybe the sound of classy instrumental music. But what about Sting belting out the chorus of "Roxanne"? While you might imagine that from a dive bar on a weekend night, it’s probably not what you expect upon walking into a tasting room, and especially not one in the Napa Valley in the town of Yountville. However, step foot into the tasting room at Cliff Lede Vineyards and that’s exactly what you find.
There’s nothing subtle about the presence of rock and roll at Cliff Lede Vineyards (Pronounced LAY-dee, like “lady”), from the signed memorabilia gracing the walls of the tasting room, to the sound of classic rock songs overhead. Cliff Lede’s personal passion for rock and roll is clearly seen throughout the property, even in the vineyards. While most vineyards categorize their blocks by a number or letter system, Cliff Lede named each vineyard block after a classic rock song, such as “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Stairway to Heaven,” and “Light my Fire.”
It’s probably no surprise then to hear that the winery’s passion for rock and roll is an integral part of the tasting experience at Cliff Lede Vineyards. Each year sees a different “Rock Block” wine blend, which combines two of the vineyard’s blocks. Last year saw Lonely Wizard, while this year’s featured wine is Cinnamon Rhapsody, blending 85% cabernet sauvignon, 9% cab franc, 4% petit verdot, 1% malbec, and 1% merlot.
While the tasting room is open to the public daily from 10 am to 4 pm, there’s also a VIP members-only tasting room, appropriately named Back Stage, requiring VIP card access like you’d expect at a high profile rock concert. Back Stage features a behind-the-scenes tasting experience, with a variety of different tasting experiences, many of which include library selections that aren’t offered in the public tastings. Donning the walls of Back Stage are art exhibits that change frequently. The new exhibit features the work of self-taught painter William Glen Crooks of San Diego. Tapping your feet and humming your favorite rock songs has never felt so classy.
Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top was quoted as saying that “Each guitar has its own character and personality, which can be magnified once the player engages in beatin' it up." The same could be said for wine, that each bottle has its own character and personality, which is magnified once the wine lover has engaged in it. At Cliff Lede Vineyards in Napa Valley, you get the best of both of those worlds, music and wine. While it’s easy to quickly pop in and out of Napa Valley tasting experiences, Cliff Lede Vineyards invites you to stop and stay a little while.