The 85-acre Estate Vineyard is divided into 23 separate blocks based on soil type and exposure to the sun, in a combination of valley floor and hillside slope plantings.
The rock outcropping that forms the eastern boundary of the estate, the Stags Leap Palisades, sheds debris in the form of volcanic rhyolite and tuff, which is carried to the valley floor where it mingles with the deeper subsoil made up of Bale loam formed from ancient river sediment. Topographically, the slope of the palisades and it's small valley are oriented to block early morning sun, retain afternoon heat, and funnel cooler marine air coming from the San Pablo Bay to the south.
The sheer volume of rock has a direct impact on the local climate of the estate. The rock face of the palisades gives off stored warmth after sunset, radiating down over the entire ranch. It’s wonderful to feel that lingering, radiating heat. You can bet it feels good to a Cabernet cluster as well. The high incidence of rock in the soil holds the heat of the sun into the early twilight hours and then loses it rapidly, effectively slowing and prolonging the ripening process.
This combination of Napa Valley’s extended growing season with the accentuated warmth and cooling of the Stags Leap District results in an ideal balance of acid and sugar in the fruit. The wine grapes are given time to mature and develop their characteristic soft texture and intense flavors.