Of Land and Architecture These 4 wineries heighten the visitor experience through their build and appreciation for the terroir. BY TOURING & TASTING
Photos courtesy of Touring & Tasting
These four wineries are a joy to sip and see.
“ The winery’s bell towers house eight bells from London’s Church of St. Dunstan’s-in-the-East, originally founded in the 10th century.”
Visiting a winery for the first time can be and exciting and intimidating experience all at the same time. You're not sure where you should go, what you should see or what you should taste. These four wineries offer several conversation starters through beautiful architecture and the products they produce.
Stags' Leap Winery
The majesty of Stags’ Leap Winery astonishes many first-time visitors. Located at the end of a long, private road off the Silverado Trail, the 240-acre estate rests in its own intimate valley, graced with natural beauty, historical buildings, gardens, and a legendary reputation for elegant wines that express their unique terroir. The terroir is so singular, in fact, that it inspired the formation of the Stags Leap viticultural district in 1989, almost 100 years after the property’s original winery was founded. The soils in this valley within a valley are diverse, yet mainly fall under two categories: volcanic and gravely clay loam. Both soil types are coarse and retain little water, yielding intense fruit and rich wines that show remarkable finesse and intensity.
The focal point of the estate is the old stone Manor House. Built in 1892, the Manor House is the setting for many stories of bootleggers, gangsters, and movie stars, including a colorful chapter in the 1920s when the Manor House served as one of the Napa Valley’s most prominent country retreats. After an extensive restoration, the Manor House has recently been renewed to its former glory.
6150 Silverado Trail
Napa, CA 94558
St. Clement Vineyards
St. Helena, CA
The short path from the parking lot to the charming Victorian house that hold St. Clement Vineyards’ tasting room is steep but worth every step. The landmark Napa Valley estate, established in 1878 by the San Francisco stained glass merchant Fritz Rosenbaum, was one of the first bonded wineries in the Napa Valley. St. Clement’s newest chapter began in 1976 when another glass expert, local ophthalmologist William Casey, bought the house and built a 10,000-case stone winery in the backyard. St. Clement Vineyards has built its modern day legacy from long-term relationships with some of the best winegrowers in the Napa Valley including Howell Mountain, Mount Veeder, and Rutherford. The beautifully situated Victorian house is the focal point of any visit to St. Clement. Weather permitting, guests are invited to sit on the outside terrace and enjoy the gorgeous view of the valley and Howell Mountain. All tastings are seated and, therefore, reservations are recommended.
2867 St. Helena Hwy N
St. Helena, CA 94574
Aptly named “Etude” after the classical music term for a focused study or technical exercise to perfect technique, Etude Wines is dedicated to mastering the craft of wine-growing. The winery was founded more than 30 years ago on the belief that great wines are grown and not made. This philosophy continues today with Winemaker Jon Priest and Associate Winemaker Rob Fischer. Etude’s estate vineyards are located in the far northwest corner of the Carneros appellation. Unlike much of Carneros, which is, for the most part, composed of riverbed and bay bottom clay soils, Etude’s vineyard soils possess several variations of well-drained, rocky upland soil of volcanic origin. The vineyards are planted to conform to the various soil types and changing contours of topography. The Etude team is dedicated to sustainable farming practices and maintaining perfect harmony with their surrounding environment. In fact, Etude’s environmentally friendly land practices have earned the winery certification in California’s Fish Friendly Farming program. The winery is also a Napa Green Certified Winery, affirming its commitment to conserving water and energy, reducing waste, and preventing pollution.
Visitors to the tasting room are delighted with samples of the winery’s renowned Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon, along with other varietals. Appointments are required for the newest tasting experience, The Study of Pinot Noir, which introduces guests to five wines from distinct growing regions crafted by the same winemaker to demonstrate the influence of terroir on this popular varietal.
Perched 300 feet above the town of Calistoga, Sterling Vineyards offers panoramic views of the Napa Valley. The winery’s architecture was modeled after that of the Greek island of Mykonos, where Sterling founder Peter Newton often vacationed. The brilliant white bell towers stand out dramatically against the rugged Mayacamas and Vaca Mountains, flanking the Napa Valley. Mount Saint Helena makes a lovely distant backdrop. The winery’s bell towers house eight bells from London’s Church of St. Dunstan’s-in-the-East, originally founded in the 10th century. The church was destroyed by fire in 1666, rebuilt, and then destroyed again during World War II. Each time, new bells were recast from the old metal, giving them superior tonal quality. The rich tolling of these ancient bells sounds down through the valley on the quarter hour.
Recently, Sterling Vineyards launched a food and wine program, featuring culinary creations sourced locally and prepared by gourmet chefs. Guests are invited to linger on the South View Terrace while they savor a glass of Sterling wine. They can also purchase a charcuterie platter adorned with artisan meats, cheeses, breads, and other delicacies. The bites are carefully selected to complement the aromas and flavors of the wines.