by Fred McMillin
for March 5, 1997
The Case of the Leaping Apostrophe
We are in the hills that rise on the east side of Napa Valley's Silverado Trail. Here, over a century ago hunters were in hot pursuit of a huge stag. The chase ended abruptly when their quarry escaped by making an eye-popping leap over a broad chasm. Hence, the rocky hills became known as Stag's Leap. When Horace Chase built the first winery there about 1890, he named it the Stag's Leap Winery. BUT, in 1970 when Carl Doumani bought the Chase estate, his label read "Stags' Leap Winery". . the apostrophe had leaped over the "s." Then Warren Winiarski stopped lecturing at the University of Chicago and started building a winery which he named "Stag's Leap Wine Cellars." The apostrophe was back home. Then, which spelling did the Federal fathers use for the district's official title? Neither one. It is the Stags Leap District with no apostrophe.
So, while there's little agreement on how to spell Stags Leap, there is much agreement that it produces some of the best Cabs in the Western Hemisphere. For example, at San Francisco's fashionable Hawthorne Lane Restaurant, the top-priced California Cabernets included the Stag's Leap Wine Cellars S.L.V.Vineyard 1993. My panel found it to be a huge mouthful, given even more purple power with a splash of Petite Verdot. We decided that if those hunters had first sipped this '93, we're not so sure the stag would have escaped.
1993 Cabernet.Sauvignon, S.L.V.Vineyard
Category: Highly Recommended now, Fantastic after five years in your cellar.
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