The Robert Mondavi Winery is the best known winery in California, and with good reason. The late Robert Mondavi, who died in 2008, was Napa Valley’s most passionate ambassador and the maker of some of the valley’s very best wines. His Italian immigrant parents moved from Minnesota to Napa Valley to grow fruit, and by the 1960s they owned and operated the Charles Krug Winery. But after a feud with his brother and mother in 1966, when Robert was already in his 50s, Robert left the Krug winery and struck out on his own. He was determined to make fine wines – not the jug wines California was mostly known for at the time – and by the 1970s his Cabernet Sauvignons were impressing connoisseurs in the U.S. and Europe. Today the winery is no longer owned by the Mondavi family, though its wines continue to win high praise. Robert Mondavi Winery owns 1,540 acres in Napa Valley and its premiere wines are Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Napa Valley and Cabernet Sauvignon To Kalon Reserve.
Stags Leap District AVA in southern Napa Valley has a storied history. It is home to Stag’s Leap Cellars, whose 1973 Cabernet Sauvignon won the famous Judgment of Paris blind tasting that included several of Bordeaux’s most exalted First Growths. Vineyards were started in area in the late 19th century, but the district’s rise in prestige started in the late 1960s when Nathan Fay planted Cabernet Sauvignon. Fay later sold his estate to Warren Winiarski, founder of Stag’s Leap Cellars. The district was given its own AVA designation in 1989, and today there are 1,400 vineyard acres. The AVA is especially notable because it was the first in the U.S. to be granted AVA status based on terroir. Its distinctive soils is a mix of volcanic soils, river sediment and loamy clay-like soil. Because the soils don’t retain water well, vineyards in Stag’s Leap tend to grow fruit with great intensity and flavor. Cabernet Sauvignon accounts for 95% of the grapes planted in Stags Leap.
One of the most widely grown grape varieties, it can be found in nearly every wine growing region. A cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. It’s a hardy vine that produces a full-bodied wine with high tannins and great aging potential.