5/12/2017 - St. Helena, CA – Renowned Napa Valley vintner Warren Winiarski, founder of Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars and winemaker of the Cabernet Sauvignon that won the famous “Judgment of Paris” wine tasting in 1976, is heading to Tokyo, Japan, to represent the Napa Valley Vintners for a private event this weekend that will reenact the red wine portion of the now famous tasting that helped put California on the world’s wine map.
It was 41 years ago that British wine merchant Steven Spurrier staged a competitive blind tasting of French versus California wines for a panel of French wine experts that ended with wines produced by two Napa Valley wineries taking top honors. The Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars 1973 Cabernet Sauvignon and Chateau Montelena 1973 Chardonnay were deemed the winning wines in their respective categories.
In 1996, on the 20th anniversary of the tasting, The Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in Washington, DC collected bottles of the two winning vintages, which are now on display in the “FOOD: Transforming the American Table, 1950–2000” exhibition.
Winiarski will be a guest of honor and speak at the Japan private tasting as well as a celebratory party afterward. The same 10 red wines from the same vintages as the original Paris Tasting of 1976 will be presented in a reenactment of the original tasting for Tokyo-based wine experts, sommeliers and journalists who will attend or report on the tasting.
Wines for the reenactment were collected over several years by Joseph Kraft, a financial services professional and wine collector from California who is now based in Tokyo.
“It is extraordinary that someone would plan for such a re-tasting after 41 years, on a private basis,” said Winiarkski. “It is even more extraordinary that someone would have had the diligence to collect, over time, the original wines in sufficient quantity to provide the basis for such an historical reenactment. I am honored and excited to be part of this very special event.”
Kraft assembled the collection because of his longtime interest in history and the role that wine plays in it.
“When the Smithsonian, out of over 137 million items, identified the 101 most important ‘Objects that Made America’ and chose the two wines that won the Paris Tasting, I became even more interested as to the meaning or impact this event had on the overall development of the entire wine industry,” said Kraft. “I no longer see this event as a competition between California and French wines, but an historic reflection to celebrate the progress of wine in general. As soon as I collected all the wines, I organized the reenactment with help from various friends, such as Mr. Nakagawa of Nakagawa Wine Co. and the Napa Valley Vintners wine trade association. As a Californian, I enjoy sharing Napa Valley and California wines in Japan and I thought this Paris Tasting reenactment would be a wonderful way to further raise awareness of the beautiful wines made in my home state.”
The Napa Valley Vintners nonprofit trade association of more than 530 Napa Valley wineries, based in California and with an office in Tokyo, is supporting Winiarski’s trip to Japan. In addition to speaking at the reenactment event, Winiarski will meet in Tokyo with journalists and members of the wine trade to share his perspective on Napa Valley’s position as one of world’s leading wine regions.
“Napa Valley is an American national treasure,” said Winiarski. “I’m personally committed to protecting it for future generations and am always excited to share my stories and experiences as a longtime Napa Valley vintner.” Winiarski, now 88, sold Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars in 2007, but today owns Arcadia Vineyards in southern Napa Valley, where he grows Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay wine grapes. He is active in the preservation of agriculture and open space in Napa Valley and has made numerous contributions to this cause over his lifetime.
About the Napa Valley Vintners The Napa Valley Vintners nonprofit trade association has been cultivating excellence since 1944 by inspiring its more than 530 members to consistently produce wines of the highest quality, to provide environmental leadership and to care for the extraordinary place they call home. Learn more at napavintners.com.
About Warren Winiarski Warren Winiarski is a Napa Valley resident, grape grower and philanthropist. His well noted Arcadia Vineyards in the Coombsville AVA of Napa Valley grows Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. He planted his first Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard in 1970 in what is now the Stags Leap District. A longtime advocate of Napa Valley land preservation, Mr. Winiarski has backed legislation over the past 50 years to protect agricultural and open space for future generations. He has donated six conservation easements to the Land Trust of Napa County, protecting almost 200 acres of wild land and vineyards in perpetuity. His was the first producing vineyard ever donated, protecting the site of the Paris Tasting grapes. He is an avid supporter of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History’s American wine programs and has established funds to support the UC Davis Library’s collections of prominent wine writers’ manuscripts and papers. Founder and former proprietor of Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Mr. Winiarski is a Napa Valley winemaking icon with a deep legacy commencing when his 1973 Cabernet Sauvignon won the Judgment of Paris in 1976, helping put Napa Valley on the global wine map. He lives with his wife Barbara overlooking the Napa Valley that he loves.
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