The Tasting Panel magazine

December 2014

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Page 36 of 136

MILESTONES story and photos by Deborah Grossman W arren Winiarski didn't dream of winning a European wine competition when he launched Stag's Leap Wine Cellars in 1970. But he bested French wines at the 1976 Judgment of Paris and later daydreamed about a new tasting room overlooking the iconic Stags Leap Palisades. In September, Winiarski's wish finally came true. Ted Baseler, President and CEO of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates and owner of Stag's Leap Wine Cellars since 2007, invited Winiarski and the luminaries of the 1976 Paris Judgment to the opening of the winery's FAY Outlook & Visitor Center. Overlooking the historic FAY and S.L.V. vineyards and palisades, the $7 million project yielded a modern, open plan with expansive patios and a "wall of terroir" to highlight the unique estate. At dinner following the ceremony, George Taber, the writer who broke the news about the tasting and wrote Judgment of Paris: California vs France and the Historic 1976 Paris Tasting That Revolutionized Wine (2005), reflected on Winiarski's win: "I had no concept of the consequences. Organizer Steven Spurrier didn't mean it to be a game-changer, but it put Napa and California wine on the map." Spurrier, who attended the opening, still seemed dazed about the tast- ing's global impact. "During a Napa Valley visit in April 1976, I found some extraordinary wines and simply wanted to bring attention to them. If the tasting had occurred the next day, the results might have been different," said Spurrier. When Chef Michael Chiarello arrived in Napa Valley in 1986, he knew about legendary Stag's Leap Wine Cellars. At the dinner, he described his wild game sugo paired with 1977 CASK 23 and said, "We're on holy ground. You share an evening with these people only a few times in your life." Leap of FAYth STAG'S LEAP WINE CELLARS OPENS ITS NEW TASTING ROOM AND VISITOR'S CENTER Warren Winiarski's dream comes true . . . and all that jazz. Stag's Leap Wine Cellars founder Warren Winiarski (left) with Steven Spurrier, who organized the famous 1976 Judgment of Paris tasting, outside the new tasting room at Stag's Leap Wine Cellars. A view from FAY Vineyard, looking towards the new Stag's Leap Wine Cellars Visitor's Center. 36  /  the tasting panel  /  december 2014

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