Passalacqua Winery

We’ve often been told that in California, Cabernet Sauvignon is king.  That’s true, except where it’s Chardonnay or Pinot Noir.  For some reason, the grapes originally from France are the most widely grown in California.  Why aren’t there more Italian grapes planted there?  Well, Zinfandel is descended from Italian Primitivo and there is certainly enough of that grape in California.  And at Passalacqua Winery ( you will find quite a lot of Zin.  You’ll find a fair number of Italy-inspired wines as well.

Members of the Passalacqua family have been making and selling wine in Dry Creek Valley since 1895.  After operating in several locations around Sonoma County, Passalacqua settled at the western end of the Lambert Bridge Road.  This was previously the location of Pezzi King, known for their Zinfandels, which Passalacqua still features.  In fact, there are five of them, most sourced from nearby vineyards and one grown on their own land.

The winery building is a simple, wooden structure without pretense.  A Napa Palace would feel out of place in Dry Creek Valley, and Passalacqua certainly has a sense of place, which they invite you to share.  We recommend that visitors take their tasting out on Passalacqua’s terrace.  Of course, it’s always pleasant to taste wine out of doors, but the experience at this winery is more than that.  The views across the Dry Creek Valley are nothing less than spectacular.  In case the vines didn’t provide enough scenery, fountains and some well-placed olive trees add just the right touch.  You will find yourself sipping slowly, just to extend your time taking in all that beauty.

The Passalacquas’ Italian heritage comes through in several of the wines they make.  Their aptly named Radici della Famiglia (Roots of the Family) is now in its fifteenth release, so they add Quindici (15) to the name of the wine in the current release.  It’s meant to tase like a Super Tuscan, as it is made of Cabernet and Sangiovese.  Italian it may be in style, but there’s no missing that it’s a California wine.  Of course, they still bow to the king and make Cabernet Sauvignon as well.  They also make a white Fiano, and almost no one else in America makes wine from this southern Italian grape.  Interestingly, the majority of the Fiano grapes are pressed the old-fashioned way, by foot.  Roots, indeed! 

Quite a few of the wines that Passalacqua makes are available only to their club members, although just maybe an odd bottle or two will show up in the tasting room.  And if you want to taste their wines, you’ll have to do so at the winery or join their club, because they don’t distribute commercially.

Napa Valley and Sonoma County have many wineries established by immigrants from Italy.  Not many others pay tribute to their heritage in the wines they make.  (David Coffaro, nearby, is another exception.)  With regard to Passalacqua, we say come for the views; stay for the wine.

Pugliese Vineyards

Winemaking in Long Island’s North Fork has been going on long enough that there are beginning to be two types of wineries.  The first is the pioneers, built by the hardy individuals who thought they could make quality wine where once potatoes grew…and to a greater or lesser extent, they’ve done it.  The other is the newcomers, building on the success of the pioneers but bringing a lot of money earned doing something else, such as software or manufacturing.  Pugliese Vineyards ( is one of the oldest of the pioneers.

Established in 1980, Pugliese was and is a family enterprise.  The founding father has passed away but his wife is still to be found in the tasting room, dispensing wine, gifts and advice.  We’ve learned that there are now five generations involved in production and sales.  For those of us with respect for tradition in winemaking, this fact alone is a reason to visit the winery.

Photo courtesy of Foursquare.

The building housing the tasting room is simple, made of white clapboard.  There is a touch of a farmhouse about it.  But really, don’t visit Pugliese for the architecture.  Find a perfect warm afternoon, with blue skies and lots of sunshine.  That’s the time to come to this winery.

Around the aforementioned building are acres of lawns, trees, a lake with a fountain in it and, gloriously, a long pergola covered in vines with plentiful picnic tables below it.  You can bring a picnic or buy cheeses, cold cuts, snacks and olives on the premises, all designed to accompany the wines.  (Hint to the owners: they should offer Pugliese bread.)  Most of Long Island is flat; Pugliese isn’t exactly hilly, but they do bill themselves as “The Winery in the Hollow”, which only adds to its attractiveness.  As is the case with many North Fork wineries, Pugliese does a side business in weddings.  We can see why people would want to get married there.

Like many Long Island vineyards, Pugliese makes wine from a wide variety of grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Riesling, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Grigio, Sangiovese, Gewurztraminer and Niagara, to be exact.  We have often said that this is an error by the local wineries.  Yes, they want to appeal to all tastes, but we think they would all be better off making better wine from fewer varietals.  We notice that some of the newcomers are also doing this.

Pugliese takes great pride in their sparkling wines, which they still call Champagne.  Of course, by law the real thing comes from that place in France, but Pugliese has been making their sparklers long enough that they were allowed to continue using the term as long as they identify it as coming from Long Island on the label.  They have four of them, and you can try a flight of all four.

To be honest, we don’t find Pugliese’s wines to be to our tastes.  That’s really unimportant.  For one thing, Power Tasting isn’t about the wines but about the wine tasting experience, and the experience at Pugliese is great.  Moreover, it seems that they have developed a dedicated following.  Whenever we have been there, we have seen groups of visitors buying lots of wine and enjoying it quite a lot.

Bacigalupi Vineyards

We love driving down Westside Road in the Russian River Valley.  Healdsburg is just behind us; great Pinot Noir and Chardonnay lie ahead.  Westside is a well-tended country road, with wineries on your right side, heading south, and occasional glimpses of the valley floor to your left.  And there on your right you will find Bacigalupi Vineyards (

The Bacigalupi tasting room.  Photo courtesy of the winery.

Bacigalupi is a family vineyard, which means a lot in these days, when “family” often means “We made a lot of money doing something else, and bought ourselves a vineyard”.  The Bacigalupis have been growing grapes on this property since 1956, with the first plantings of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in 1964, possibly the first Pinot Noir in Russian River.  They must have done some things right, because their Chardonnay was in the blend that won the Judgement of Paris in 1976, included amongst Chateau Montelena’s grapes.

Bacigalupi’s Pinot Noir.  Photo courtesy of the winery.

In fact, you may have already tasted some of Bacigalupi’s production.  They sell more of their grapes than they use for bottling under their own label.  Williams Seylem and Gary Farrell are among their customers, who gladly announce the vineyard they source from.  We don’t know if this is true (and the family won’t tell) but it’s only reasonable to expect that they hold back their best grapes for their own wine.

To this day, Bacigalupi is truly family-owned.  Charles, the founder, has passed away, but his wife Helen is still with us.  John and Pam, son and daughter-in-law, run it and Katey and Nicole are in management positions.  We have found that if you stop by for a tasting, a family member is likely to be pouring your wine.  And in keeping with that of-the-soil tradition, the winery is simple, more of a farmhouse than a tasting room.  It’s far enough off Westside Road that it feels rather isolated, as though it were the only farm property for miles, instead of one of the many Russian River wineries.

To this day, Bacigalupi has stuck with what they do well: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.  In fact, they have kept the 2½ acre Paris Tasting Vineyard.  Wine from this vineyard is available (though hard to find) under the name Renouveau.  Our tastes run more to their Pinot Noirs, from several of Bacigalupi’s vineyards.  We find them representative of Russian River Pinot Noirs, which is saying quite a lot.  If you want to know what good Russian River Pinot Noir tastes like, try theirs.  They are full-bodied, but not like some of the bruisers from Santa Lucia Highlands, nor thin and acidic as you find at other Russian River vineyards.

While the wines are modern and bright, the experience of a visit to Bacigalupi is homey and laid-back.  It’s as though you are being invited into the Bacigalupis’ home, which after a fashion you are.  The wines are well worth tasting but they’re not the only reason to stop there.  You get to feel a part of a culture that is sadly dying out, of honest people making quality wines because that’s what they do.  More, it’s who they are.  If you’re a serious wine taster, you’ll appreciate the people as well as the wine.


Most American wineries that we are aware of have names that include words like Vineyards, Estate or Cellars.  But Paumanok, on Long Island’s North Fork, doesn’t have one of those words; it’s just plain Paumanok.  That’s okay, in part because the word is Algonquian for Long Island. It’s a no-nonsense name for a winery that’s basically about the wines they serve, without a lot of frills.  If your purpose for visiting is also all about the wines, you’ll be happy there.  If you’re looking for a party atmosphere, not so much.

The Paumanok winery, with its tasting porch.

It starts with the architecture of the winery.  It’s a renovated old barn, simple and a little weather-beaten.  Big barns do reflect the agricultural history of the North Fork, where potatoes and duckling were once the main crops, not grapes.  Founded in 1983, Paumanok is a family-run enterprise.  The interior is also plain and simple: a wooden bar and an expansive though rather empty wooden floor.

The Adirondack chairs, where you can sip and watch the workmen tend to the vines.

But if you are visiting on a pleasant day, you don’t want to be inside anyway.  You want to be on the winery’s porch or near the vineyards, where Paumanok comes into its own.  You can sit at a table or in a field of Adirondack chairs, facing the vines.  You choose some wines to try, a server brings them to you and then you’re left alone to enjoy them.  Again, plain and simple; if you want a buddy to converse with you, bring your own.  The servers are informative but not chatty.

And to an extent, this straightforward approach is reflected in the wines as well.  As is the case with almost all Long Island vineyards, they make wine from a wide variety of grapes, both red and white.  Paumanok specializes in the Bordeaux grape varietals in their red wines.  Power Tasting doesn’t review wines, but we can say that we were particularly impressed by their white wines.  That’s quite a compliment coming from us, whose cellar is 90% made up of red wines.  The Sauvignon Blanc and especially the Chenin Blanc were our favorites.

[Pardon us for a bit of a rant.  Why do Long Island winemakers think they need to grow a dozen different grapes, when clearly the terroir there is supportive of only a few?  Make what you’re good at and don’t try to please everybody with everything.  And while we’re ranting, why don’t more vineyards grow Chenin Blanc?]

For those driving to the North Fork from the west, which is just about everyone, Paumanok is among the first you’ll encounter when you leave the Long Island Expressway, which makes it an excellent first stop (or last one on your way home).  For people from New York City, visiting Paumanok is like letting out a long sigh: “Aaah, we’ve made it”.  This good, solid winery with its good, solid wines sets a standard that the rest of the North Fork vineyards needs to live up to.

Odette Estate Winery

It’s not usually important to know who the owners of a winery are before tasting there.  Odette is unusual in that regard, in that it is owned by Gavin Newsom (yes, that Gavin Newsom), Gordon Getty (yes, those Gettys) and John Conover, who actually manages the winery.  If the names Newsom and Getty sound familiar to wine lovers, that’s because they also founded the Plumpjack and Cade wineries, up on Napa’s Howell Mountain.

All this is relevant, because if you like Plumpjack and Cade, you’ll most likely enjoy the wines from Odette as well.  We can say this because we were offered a comparison tasting of Cabernet Sauvignons from the three vineyards, and Odette certainly held its own.

Photo courtesy of The Napa Wine Project.

Note that none of the owners are named Odette, nor to our knowledge are their wives.  The name of the winery is sort of an inside joke.  Plumpjack was a nickname in some of Shakespeare’s plays for John Falstaff, the bibulous, rotund rake who nearly leads Henry V to ruin.  His girlfriend was named Odette.  On top of that, Odette is the romantic heroine in the ballet Swan Lake.  And Odette Kahn was one of the judges in the famous Judgement of Paris wine tasting that established California’s winemaking prowess.  This triple meaning is reinforced by  modernistic sculptures in their vineyards, which is reproduced on their labels.

The Odette winery.  Photo courtesy of 7×7.

For the visitor to Odette, there is no grand palace on the premises, just a rather simple white structure with an attractive steeple on top.  The interior won’t blow anyone away, either.  The greatest attraction is the sight of the winery in the midst of a seemingly endless vineyard, nestled below the hills in the Stags Leap sector.  It harkens back to another era in Napa Valley, where the lure was the wine and the scenery, not the massiveness of the architecture.  Visitors are meant to taste wines on a covered patio in view of the vines.

The wines on offer are primarily Napa Valley’s most common varietals: Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.  There’s also a less common Petite Sirah, which they market under the Adaptation label.  These are all quite powerful wines, very much an expression of what Napa Valley is famous for.  As mentioned, we were able to compare all three of their labels.  In advance, we expected to prefer the wine made from mountain fruit, but Odette and Plumpjack, from the valley floor, proved to be our favorites.

Jewelry for sale at Odette.

We don’t often mention shopping in Power Tasting’s reviews, since most of what we find are either overpriced fashion items or the usual collection of refrigerator magnets and coasters, also overpriced.  But Odette has a rather interesting display of handmade jewelry that is a notable exception to the rule and is worth mentioning.  We’re sure that Falstaff’s girlfriend would be pleased to wear some of the pieces for sale.

We’re not certain that the wines from all three properties are offered all the time.  Assuming that they are, a visit to Odette provides an interesting way to enjoy the wines of the Plumpjack group at one sitting.


The whole idea behind Power Tasting’s winery reviews is that we share our impressions at wineries and tasting rooms where we have had tastings.  In this article, we review a winery we haven’t visited.  A story goes with it.

We were on a wine tasting trip to Tuscany and focused on two regions within the province.  One was the area between Montalcino and Montepulciano, where Brunello and Vino Nobile are made.  The other, of course, was the area of Chianti Classico.  We had been drinking the namesake wine of Querciabella (, a Chianti, at home and liked it a lot so we wanted to meet the people who made it and taste some of their other wines.

Querciabella is located in the tiny town of Ruffoli, on a hillside outside the somewhat larger town of Greve.  On a Saturday, we had lunch in Greve and then drove to the Querciabella vineyard, only to find it deserted.  We knocked on the door of what was evidently a house, and a rather angry man opened the door.  To our embarrassment, our appointment was for Friday.  The proprietor (who we now know to be Sebastiano Cossia Castiglioni) had invited his publicist to drive down from Milan to meet us and had evidently planned quite a tasting.  He slammed the door in our faces and he had a right to be angry.

The Querciabella winery.  Photo courtesy of Winedering.

So this article is our attempt at amends.

In a region of Italy where winemaking goes back for millennia and many labels have histories over the centuries, Querciabella is a relative newcomer.  Founded in 1974 on a single hectare in Ruffoli, it now encompasses over 100 hectares in Chianti and Maremma.

Querciabella is famous for several reasons.  While they make Chianti at several quality levels, Querciabella was among the pioneers in producing Super Tuscans.  Eschewing the traditional rules of Chianti winemaking – at least 80% Sangiovese and no more than 20% of grapes such as Canaiolo or Colorino – Querciabella started mixing Sangiovese with French grapes, primarily Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.  The first Super Tuscans were produced in the 1970’s; Querciabella’s first was released in 1981.  That wine was Camartina, the winery’s flagship to this day.  Their Turpino is a Bordeaux blend with no Sangiovese at all.  And they also make a 100% Merlot, which they call Palafreno, but only in years when conditions are ideal.  Querciabella has only released it a dozen times.

They are also famous for their commitment to sustainability.  All their wines are organic, biodynamic (without the manure-filled cowhorns), and vegan.  No animal products of any sorts are used in their winemaking.

We can attest that their Chiantis are not to be looked down on.  The Classico is accessible but has lots of Chianti character.  The Riserva is more of the same with greater depth.  Querciabella has had a Gran Selezione since that designation was allowed in the previous decade.  It’s a single vineyard Sangiovese, using their best grapes.

They also make a few white wines.  Naturally enough, these wines are blends of Italian and French grapes, too.

A word about Querciabella’s labels.  They all have drawings evocative of restaurants, for reasons unknown.  They’re cute, belying the seriousness of the wine behind the labels.

So should you be wine tasting in Tuscany, make a point of visiting Querciabella.  Just don’t tell them we sent you.

Bedell Cellars

A Bordeaux winery founded in 1980 is a newcomer.  In Napa Valley, it would have a heritage but wouldn’t be a pioneer.  But on Long Island’s North Fork, a 1980 winery is positively ancient.  Bedell Cellars in Cutchogue (pronounced KUCH-og) is just such a winery.  It has had two owners, the Bedells (Kip and Susan) who started it and the Lynne family who are still there.

Then and now, Bedell made a number of wines, red, white and rosé.  At the outset, the winery focused on one grape, Merlot, to the extent that Kip Bedell was known as “Mr. Merlot”.  In our earliest forays into Long Island’s new Wine Country, we found Bedell Merlot to be a standout among other wineries trying to do everything for everybody.

Bedell Cellars still bottles Merlot, but today it is a wine, not the wine. The wine that Bedell features most prominently now is Musée, which is a Bordeaux grape blend.  It is unusual in two ways: the most prominent grape is Petit Verdot, which is usually used for blending in France.  And the 2019 bottling does not contain Cabernet Franc, which many (us included) find to be the grape most suited to the North Fork’s terroir.

 The entrance to the Bedell winery.

There are a number of reasons to spend time at Bedell when visiting the North Fork.  Not the least is the look of the place, both inside and out.  There is a New England-y quality to the exterior of the winery buildings.  Since the North Fork was settled by émigré Puritans in the 1700’s, the architecture is an homage to local history.  White clapboard and little steeples lead one to expect whalers to be coming home at any minute.  These days, especially in the summer months, it is far more likely that it will be tourists who are coming.

 Bedell’s tasting room.

The décor of the tasting room belies the rustic sense of the exterior.  It’s modern, metal and high-tech, all rather dramatic.  The servers work behind the bar and interact with visitors languidly on cool, early April days and a bit frantically at the height of the summer.  We do recommend a visit to Bedell to get a sense of where the North Fork’s wines have come from.  But we further recommend that you do so on a day other than a high-season weekend.

In addition to the tourist hordes, you are likely to find some distractions at Bedell.  They often present musical acts, for one thing, and in the summer youmight find yourself surrounded by a lot of surprisingly well-dressed people.  They are probably there for a wedding.  Winery nuptials are becoming quite the thing on the North Fork, and the beauty of Bedell’s vineyards, grounds and architecture attract quite a few.

We view marriage quite favorably and are happy to see people getting hitched in such lovely surroundings.  But the business of winery-as-a-backdrop may have an effect on the business of making and selling wine.  It’s enough that winemaking is part farming, part art and part industry.  Adding ceremonies as a fourth part of the financial equation can alter a winemaker’s perspective, as well as that of wine tasters.  We hope that Bedell keeps its eye on the ball…or at least on the grape.

Peju Winery

We have driven up and down Route 29 in the Napa Valley many, many times.  Often, we have passed the Peju Winery (  That’s exactly what we have done, passed it by without stopping in.  We guess that’s because we have never seen their wines in stores or on wine lists so, we thought, why bother?  On a recent trip, we did bother and we are glad we did.

The rather distinctive Peju winery.

The winery is named after its founder, Tony Peju, who only recently passed away.  He was credited with being the father of direct-to-the-consumer wine sales.  Thus we hadn’t heard of his wines because he bypassed stores and restaurants.  Peju wines are for sale only at the winery and through their wine club.  The winery is still owned and run by the Peju family, which is something depressingly rare in Napa Valley today.

The winery is distinctive.  As you approach, you see a rather oddly shaped building or, as they prefer to call it, a tower.  Surrounding it are lush gardens which visitors are free to roam.  There is also a spacious patio where visitors are offered seated tastings.  You can also stand at the bar at Peju, which is rather rare these days.  We arrived without an appointment and so had our tasting indoors, in the barrel room.  However, the winery does urge reservations.

The stained glass mural in the winery.

Peju makes an enormous variety of wines.  Of course, not all are available for tasting on any given day, but we did find that the servers were liberal with little extras that weren’t on the official tasting lists.  Located in the heart of Napa Valley in Rutherford, they do specialize in the Bordeaux grapes, especially Cabernet Sauvignon.  But there are also Malbec, Pinot Noir and Sangiovese in the red wines.  Their selection of white wines includes Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc (of course), but also sparking wines and French Colombard, a rarity these days.  We are usually of the ABC (anything but Chardonnay) persuasion, but we rather enjoyed Peju’s.

The servers seem quite knowledgeable, if a bit chatty.  They are attentive, which can be a problem in some wineries.  Combining the renewed popularity of wine tasting tourism with a shortage of staff everywhere, we have often found ourselves sitting and waiting for a server to notice that we wanted to be on to our next wine.  This was not the case at Peju, much to their credit.  For a winery that makes its market with visitors and club members, it is only sensible that they make the tasting experience as enjoyable as possible.  It leads to purchases and memberships.  We would only wish that more wineries would adopt that attitude.

Our visit to Peju is an example of why it is a good idea, from time to time, to take a chance on a winery you don’t know.  We enjoyed our visit, bought some wine, and will gladly return on another trip.  The next time we might even make a reservation.


Cosentino Winery

In a sense, there are two Cosentino Wineries (, the historical one and the winery as it is today.  It was established in 1980 in other parts of California and settled in Napa Valley after ten years.  The founder was a fellow named Mitch Cosentino, who was both a pioneer and a rather different sort of winemaker.  For one thing, he was a self-taught winemaker (not quite that rare in those days) but more so because he made the wines that he wanted to drink.  If you agreed with him, fine.  If not, buy from someone down the road.

What he particularly liked were Italian-style wines.  He made a Sangiovese and a Nebbiolo, and his best known wines were well-rated Zinfandels that harkened back to a time when Napa Valley wines were made for local consumption by Italian immigrants.  He was also the first to sell a Bordeaux blend labeled “Meritage”.

In 2010, Mitch sold his winery to a big conglomerate, which leads us to today’s winery. In one way, it is as it was, at the same location as ever at the edge of Napa Town.  The winery building is still there, an Italianate (of course) structure covered in vines.  But the name and the building are the main links to Cosentino’s history.  Yes, they do make Zinfandel, but it’s not what they are known for any longer.  Today, their premier red wine is the one that Mitch introduced, “The Poet”, a Meritage, about which more later.

The wine tasting experience at Cosentino is quite pleasant.  The winery is easy to find, right next to Mustards restaurant along Route 29.  There is a wide patio with a large stone wall at one end in which there is constantly lit fireplace.  Seating is well spread out and the view of the traffic passing by is softened by a large hill just across the street with a Victorian mansion on top.  If you go, try to have your tasting on this patio; in our opinion the indoor tasting room is far less inviting.

As everywhere in Napa Valley, Cosentino is “by appointment”.  We were seated without one, perhaps by luck or the fact that we got there before the crowds did.   The servers are eager to please, what we would call “hosts” as opposed to “educators”. A typical tasting flight is two whites and two reds, one of which is the aforementioned “The Poet”, which brings us to the issue of price and quality.

In all honesty, Cosentino does not make the best wines in Napa Valley, but they are pleasant and easy to drink.  They fit the surroundings in that they are the types of wines you might enjoy sitting on your patio with friends on a sunny afternoon.  They cost considerably less than wines made at the better known wineries in Napa Valley, and the tasting fee is also lower, currently $30.  The Poet is unquestionably their top wine (so they say and we agree).  It too is priced well below other wineries’ best offerings.

So if your plan for wine tasting in Napa Valley is to visit the Big Names, by all means do so, but be prepared to pay for the experience.  If, however, you want to have a pleasant experience, sipping tasty wines and at least one that’s worth savoring, Cosentino may be what you are looking for.

Stags’ Leap Winery

There are a number of reasons to enjoy a wine tasting visit to Stags’ Leap Winery ( history, architecture, vistas, beauty and of course the wines.  The tasting “room” is actually a house, more of a mansion that has been lovingly restored to its condition around the turn of the previous century.  It has been the home of rich people, a resort hotel, a speakeasy, a home to squatters and, finally, a commercial winery.

You learn all the details and get to see much of the building as a part of what they call a Manor House Experience.  You can also taste the wines without the tour, but we highly recommend being shown around.  As you enter the property, you pass through an arcade of trees and see vineyards that date to the 1880’s.  You climb a hill to the parking lot and view across the estate, with more vineyards below.  You will notice magnificent gardens everywhere around you and then you’ll see this Victorian mansion, made of stone with a grand veranda running along one side.
When you step inside, the room you enter is resplendent of early 20th century design, somewhere between Gatsby and your (rich) grandmother.  The chandelier made of stags’ horns certainly catches the eye, as do all the burnished wood accoutrements.  You don’t have to whisper, but you do feel as though you ought to.

A tour guide takes you through the house, outbuildings and gardens, offering tastings of Stags’ Leaps’ lighter wines as you go.  You wind up in an equally impressive dining room with the crest of the winery in stained glass.  Here you sit and are served their more well-known wines.  Since this is Napa Valley they serve a Cabernet Sauvignon, but interestingly, this is not Stag Leaps’ flagship wine.  They are best known for Petite Sirah, both in the more widely known white label with a leaping stag and their black label premium bottling.  It is the latter, more interesting wine that they serve on the tour.

The overall impression you get from a visit to Stags’ Leap is of old-money luxury.  In fact you learn during the tour that there was once a lot of money but it ran out and was only restored to its former glory in the 1980’s.  It has been kept up by the current owner, Treasury Wine Cellars.  What you see is gracious, as are the guides, and the wines project a full-bodied savor that may not be quite as fashionable as it once was but echoes what Napa Valley has always been.  In fact, that may be said about the visit as a whole.

We cannot fail to relate the history of the apostrophe.  The AVA is Stags Leap, with no apostrophe at all.  It merely says that stags do leap.  Down the road is Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars (a leap by one stag).  This winery is Stags’ Leap (the leap of many stags).  Is that clear?  Actually, no it isn’t and it was the subject of lawsuits for quite a few years.  The guide tells the story with a little chuckle, but it’s clear that there are still some bruises felt after all this time.