Napa Valley winemaker Warren Winiarski, who made the Cabernet Sauvignon that won the great Paris Tasting in 1976, is among an elite group of icons in American winemaking who will be feted during a winemakers’ dinner to be held at the Smithsonian Castle on Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014, in Washington, DC.
The iconic vintners and members of winemaking families represent some of the leading winemakers who, in the ’60s, charted a course for the industry as part of American life. They include Jason Lett, whose father planted the first Pinot Noir vines in the Willamette Valley; Frederick Frank, whose grandfather’s aggressive planting of Vinifera in the Finger Lakes region had a tremendous impact on winemaking in the eastern U.S.; Jeffrey Patterson of Mount Eden Vineyards, who has taken over pioneering vineyards in the Santa Clara mountains; Rob Cook, senior winemaker at Chalone Vineyard established by Richard Graff in the Pinnacle mountains; and Kathleen Heitz Myers, whose parents, Joe and Alice, established Heitz Cellars and produced the first Napa Valley single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.
“We knew that there was potential for great American wine in those days,” said Winiarski. “I was lucky to have started growing grapes and making wine along with others whose quest for great wines from America coincided with mine. We all made this happen together.”
As part of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History museum’s 50th year, the American Food and Wine History Project has been curating artifacts, oral histories and documents related to the history of wine and winemaking in America.
The Smithsonian selected Warren Winiarski’s 1973 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon from among more than 137 million artifacts to be included in its list and related book, “101 Objects That Made America,” for its historic importance in creating awareness and recognition of the quality of wine made in California.
The Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars bottle is the Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon that bested France’s wines in the historical 1976 event now known as the “Judgment of Paris.” This significant result and recognition catapulted California wines into the international spotlight.