Visit for a tasting, and you’ll discover the creativity and commitment that make this winery unique.
Set on 53 planted acres in the picturesque northern corner of Yountville’s Stags Leap District, the Cliff Lede Vineyards estate includes the Poetry Vineyard, located on a steep hillside that rises from the valley floor, the Rhythm Vineyard surrounding the tasting room and winery, twenty planted acres in Calistoga at the base of Diamond Mountain and 87 planted acres in Carneros.
To the delight of visitors, especially those with an appreciation for classic rock music, Cliff Lede has named each vineyard block after his favorite songs and albums. The “Rock Blocks,” as the sections are called, feature unique soil types and exposures, with names like “Light My Fire,” “Pinball Wizard,” “Hey Jude” and “Dark Side of the Moon.”
The theme continues in the art and decor of the Backstage Tasting Lounge where visitors will find a display of guitars on the wall, and artwork of the Rolling Stones, Elton John’s Yellow Brick Road, John Lennon’s Imagine, and more.
The Wines of Cliff Lede Vineyards
From the Stags Leap District, the 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon was sourced from the winery’s best blocks in the Poetry Vineyard, Rhythm Vineyard, and a few neighboring vineyards.
Composed of 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Petit Verdot, the wine displays lush cassis, blackberry, and dark cherry aromas, according to Director of Winemaking, Christopher Tynan.
The 2022 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc includes 78% Sauvignon Blanc and 22% Sémillon from Lede’s estate vineyards in Calistoga, Carneros, and Stags Leap District. Tynan describes its flavors as kiwi, white peach, mango, and cucumber with a flinty minerality.
Three of the winery’s most critically-acclaimed selections, the “Platinum Wines,” are featured in the Platinum Playlist membership. The 2019 “Poetry” features grapes from the hillside Poetry Vineyard. “Songbook” is sourced from the estates of viticulturist David Abreu, and “Beckstoffer To Kalon” comes from the eponymous vineyard in western Oakville.
Other Cliff Lede wines include red blends, “Crossfade” and “High Fidelity,” and the limited production “Marla Blanc” as well as Cabernet Sauvignons from Calistoga, Howell Mountain and the Rock Block Series.
Part of the winemaking team’s fun is the annual crafting of the Rock Block Series, a “mash up” of two or more blocks, with names to match. The 2018 “Magic Nights” blended Cabernet Sauvignon from the “Magic Bus” block in the Poetry Vineyard with Merlot from the Rhythm Vineyard’s “Nights in White Satin” to create a wine described by Winemaker Christopher Tynan as dark as midnight, with satin smooth tannins.
“Roundabout Midnight,” the 2019 blend, is composed of Cabernet Sauvignon from the “Roundabout” block of the Rhythm Vineyard and “After Midnight” of the Poetry vineyard.
The Perfect Settings for Tasting the Wines
During a recent visit to Cliff Lede Vineyards, I enjoyed a tasting in the art-filled Backstage Tasting Lounge, where the atmosphere was stylish, inviting, and casual with much to look at while sipping the current releases. I loved the Sauvignon Blanc and had the pleasure of tasting the 2019 Cabernet, the exquisite “Poetry,” and “Roundabout Midnight.”
We also stopped by the outdoor courtyard, the setting for VIP tastings, lovely on a sunny day surrounded by grapevines, bright purple flowers, and a backdrop of green hills.
Strolling through the vineyards, we crossed Abbey Road and couldn’t resist snapping a Beatles-style photo on the white painted stripes. On the short walk to the winery for our tour, we passed more classic song titles, olive trees, and two bronze dancing hares on the hilltop.
The modern winery, built into a hillside, was designed by world-renowned architect Howard Backen. Its White Room, named after the Beatles White Album, overlooks the gleaming stainless steel of the tank room and in the other direction, the vineyards and landscape below. Carved into the hill, temperature-controlled caves are home to neat rows of wood barrels and concrete eggs used for fermentation.
More Ways to Enjoy Cliff Lede Vineyards
Tastings are available daily by reservation, and a spot on the veranda is a perfect setting. An elevated tasting experience in the Backstage Tasting Lounge includes single vineyard, appellation series, platinum, or library wines.
The VIP Tasting, set in the plush outdoor lounge bordered by a bronze sculpture of two hearts, features views of the Poetry Vineyard along with specially selected wines.
Private tastings include a walk through the vineyards with a curated wine experience.
The Library Tasting begins in the estate vineyards and continues with a host guiding guests through each vintage of hand-selected wines. In-depth tours of the winery can be arranged for private group experiences.
The Poetry Inn
The five-star luxury boutique inn, created by Cliff Lede in 2005, is located above the hillside Poetry Vineyard. The hotel features five uniquely designed suites, all with expansive outdoor areas and stunning valley views.
Each suite is named for a poet or author and adorned with fresh flowers, books, art, and stylish, comfortable furniture. A three-course breakfast is served each morning, and guests have the option of in-room dining or enjoying the meal in the living room, indoors or al-fresco.
Wellness experiences, massages, and facials are available at the intimate spa, where guests can indulge in couples treatments, sound bath sessions, and reflexology. After a day of travel or wine tasting, a visit to the spa is the ultimate in luxury.
A stay at the Poetry Inn and a tour and tasting at Cliff Lede Vineyards will enhance any visit to the Napa Valley.