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Dear Dr. Vinny,
Stags Leap, Stag’s Leap or Stags’ Leap? Which is it?
—Bob F., Marlton, N.J.
All three, actually. First there’s the Stags Leap District American Viticultural Area, one of Napa Valley’s subappellations. The distinguishing feature of the Stags Leap District AVA is its rocky soils, eroded from the Vaca Mountains that border the region to the east. Many wineries make terrific wines from Stags Leap District vineyards, including Shafer, Hartwell, Bevan, Pine Ridge, Cliff Lede and Odette.
There are also two Stags Leap District wineries with very similar names: Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars and Stags’ Leap Winery (note the singular vs. plural possessives).
Winemaker Warren Winiarski founded Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars in 1970, and the winery is best-known for its S.L.V., Fay and Cask 23 bottlings. The 1973 Cabernet took top honors among the French and California reds at the famed 1976 Paris Tasting. Today it’s owned by Washington’s Ste. Michelle Wine Estates.
Stags’ Leap Winery has an even older history, situated on a property that was originally planted in 1872. It’s also known for terrific wines, including some long-lived Petite Sirahs. The brand is now owned by Treasury Wine Estates.
The two wine brands battled it out in California Supreme Court more than 30 years ago for the right to use their respective names, but recently they were back at it, thanks to a new label called The Stag, introduced by Treasury Wine Estates.
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