While all winery-hopping events are not created equal, they do all mean VIP treatment including frills, discounts, and the opportunity to get to know the wines of a particular region. These passport-style weekends are your chance to explore a manageable territory, for a set price, while each winery showcases it's skills.
April 27-29 is Stags Leap District’s turn to show you what they've got. Just to the north of Napa, it will be a unique show because they're known as much for exclusivity and hospitality as they are for Cabernet and history.
Some of the smaller events at Stags Leap’s annual Vineyard to Vintner Weekend (V2V) are sold out, but a range of tickets remain for private brunches and dinners, and there are still plenty of passes for Saturdays’ main event. Referred to as “backstage passes,” these tickets for the all-day winery crawl ($145) provide VIP perks (like concerts and cave tastings) and access to about 20 wineries, many of which are highly celebrated and/or generally closed to the public.
Some events open early and include breakfast pairings, some are lunches with live bands, and others close early; so be sure to check the schedule. Here are a few recommendations:
Get to Chimney Rock before 3 p.m. (they close early) and Cliff Lede with some extra time so you can check out the gallery. Ilsley Vineyards is a 4th generation winery with plenty of history, and both Lindstrom Wines and Malk Family Vineyards usually play hard to get (this is the only time of the year Malk is open) so a perfect fit for those seeking rare or personal experiences.
Pine Ridge has always made great wine, but they have added some fantastic food pairings (try the 5x5). Shafer’s wines are sure to impress, and it’s hard to beat the view (and SOLO cab) at Silverado Vineyards. And don’t forget to check out Stags Leap Winery, established in 1893.
A little Stags Leap history:
Grape growing began in the region in the mid-1800s when the Silverado Trail, still unfrequented today but lined with renowned wineries, was just a horse path. By 1893, the first winery to bear the Stags’ Leap name was producing 40,000 gallons of wine (over 200,000 bottles). In 1976, at an infamous blind tasting in France, which is said to have put Napa on the map, the 1973 Stags Leap Cab was awarded first place by nine French judges. It wasn’t the only winner but, from that day forth, it was impossible for the world to ignore the wines of Stags Leap and Napa Valley.