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Stag’s Leap Founder and Legendary Napa Winemaker Warren Winiarski Dies at 95

Warren Winiarski, cofounder of famed Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, passed away peacefully in his home on June 7 at the age of 95, according to a press release. The pioneering winemaker spent his life championing high-quality wines in California and played a key role in putting Napa Valley wine on the map.

In 1970, Chicago-born Winiarski purchased a 44-acre fruit orchard in Napa Valley and planted Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot vines. Just six years later, the Stag’s Leap’s 1973 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon famously took home the crown in the Judgement of Paris tasting. The wine beat out a selection of France’s best Bordeaux bottles, which sent shockwaves through the world of wine and put all eyes on Napa Valley. Since then, Stag’s Leap has continued to produce benchmark Cabernet Sauvignons, in addition to a full range of wines including Chardonnay, Merlot, and Sauvignon Blanc.

Winiarski sold Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars for $185 million in 2007, but continued to grow grapes at Arcadia Vineyard (another vineyard he owned in the Coombsville AVA) until his death. Over his decades-long career, Winiarski promoted high-quality winemaking by publishing articles in national publications and speaking at wine symposia around the world. He was also instrumental in advocating for the Napa Valley Agricultural Preserve, an effort to protect the area’s rural beauty and prevent suburban sprawl that became Napa County Law in 1968. Since 1990, the Winiarski family has donated nearly 200 acres to the Land Trust of Napa County, protecting those lands from development in perpetuity.

Winiarski was inducted into the California Hall of Fame by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. in 2017 for his global efforts to showcase and preserve the quality and history of California wine. And the Smithsonian Museum of American History awarded Winiarski the James Smithson Bicentennial Medal in 2019 for his contributions to American winemaking and the museum’s American Food & Wine History Project.

Winiarski is survived by his three children (Kasia Winiarski-Amparano, Stephen Winiarski, and Julia Winiarski) as well as six grandchildren.

The article Stag’s Leap Founder and Legendary Napa Winemaker Warren Winiarski Dies at 95 appeared first on VinePair.

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