Guide to the Stag's Leap Wine Cellars Documentation Project
Portions of this collection are digitized

Collection ID:
National Museum of American History (U.S.)
Stag's Leap Wine Cellars (Napa, California)
Collection is in
. Some materials in
Physical Description:
3 Cubic feet
11 boxes
The collections documents the growth and development of the American wine industry, 1996-2002, using the Stag's Leap Wine Cellars as a case study. Materials include oral and video histories, photographs, business records, and printed materials.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The Stag's Leap Wine Cellars (SLWC) Documentation Project was conducted by an inter-disciplinary team at the National Museum of American History. It is a part of a larger effort by the Museum's American Food and Wine team to document and interpret the changing ways in which Americans have produced, prepared, and consumed their food and drink, especially in the years after World War II. Team members are Nanci Edwards (Office of Project Management and former Collections Manager of the Museum's Agriculture Collection), John Fleckner (Senior Archivist, Archives Center), Rayna Green (Curator, Division of Home and Community Life), and Paula Johnson (Curator, Division of Work and Industry). Jeff Tinsley of the Smithsonian's Office of Photographic Services accompanied the team and shot many of the slides and color photographs.
This collection chronicles the growth and development of American viticulture and viniculture from its revival in the 1960s to the present. It offers a case study in the art and business of making fine wine from the bud to the bottle. Warren Winiarski, founder of SLWC in California's Napa Valley, is deeply interested in the legacy of American winemaking and his winery's place within its broader history. The Winiarski family has generously participated and financially supported the creation of this collection.
The documentation touches on all aspects of the wine business, including picking grapes in the vineyards, making wine in the cellar, marketing it from the business office, and promoting its sales in the tasting room and around the globe. SLWC employees describe the land, the work, the tools, the technical processes, the passions, and the motivations that create SLWC's world famous wines. The collection also provides insights into wider patterns of American immigration history, agricultural and environmental history, ethnic community development, land use in the West, product marketing, and consumerism.
The archival collection is mainly comprised of recorded oral history interviews, documentary photographs, and video footage created by the documentation team in 1997. It also includes company newsletters, vineyard and winery production data sheets, wine labels, and related printed materials collected in 1997 with additional materials added occasionally.
It is divided into seven series, including interviews and abstracts, audiotapes, photographs and slides, videotapes, business records, and printed materials.

Series 1: Interview Transcripts and Abstracts, 1997, 2003
Series 2: Oral History Interview Sound and Video Recordings, 1996-1997
Subseries 2.1: Sound Recordings, 1997
Subseries 2.2: Video Tapes, 1996-1997
Series 3: Photographs, circa 1960-2000
Series 4: Video Tapes, undated
Subseries 3.1: Family Photographs: circa 1960-1980
Subseries 3.2: Smithsonian Documentary Photographs: 1997, 2000
Series 5: Business Records, 1974-1998
Series 6: Printed Materials, 1994-2005
Series 7: Stag's Leap Wine Cellars Thirtieth Anniversary, 2003

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
The history of Stag's Leap Wine Cellars is a family history. It is also a story, in microcosm, of the development of Napa Valley, California as an international wine region and of the rising global acclaim for California wines. Building on the skills and knowledge of earlier Napa winemakers, Warren Winiarski became one of the most influential vintners in the region and his premium wines some of the most prized.
Winiarski arrived in Napa Valley in 1964 with his wife, Barbara, and their children. Like many Napa winemakers of this era, he left behind another career, in his case, an academic position at the University of Chicago to create a family business in a rural setting. At the time, Napa was just beginning to rebuild its reputation after Prohibition, a devastating vine disease, and the widespread production of cheap wines had soured the image of California wines. After apprenticing with several local winemakers, including Lee Stewart and Robert Mondavi, he purchased the land and winery that would become Stag's Leap Wine Cellars (SLWC) in 1972. Winiarski's choice of land was based, in part, Nathan Fay's success in growing Cabernet Sauvignon grapes in an adjoining vineyard; Winiarski later added Fay's property to SLWC.
To commemorate the American bicentennial in 1976, a blind wine tasting at L'Academie du Vin in Paris pitted the best of America's new wines against French classics. Stunning the international wine community, many American wines outscored their French counterparts, with SLWC's 1973 Cabernet Sauvignon taking first place in its division. The accomplishment brought SLWC and Napa Valley worldwide recognition. It excited a great demand for California wines and a new appreciation for American winemaking techniques, which combined new scientific methods with Old World traditions.
The Paris Tasting added momentum to changes already underway in the cultural, financial, and physical landscape of the Napa Valley. It spurred the development of many new wineries, the expansion of acreage under grape cultivation, and the growth of the region's tourism industry. Stag's Leap Wine Cellars was an integral part of these transformations. It continues to play a vital role in the region and the wine industry.

Cindy Ott
Separated Materials
The Division of Work and Industry holds many artifacts from SLWC, including a wine barrel, grape picking knives, shovels, and other vineyard tools; lab equipment used in winemaking; wine bottles, labels, glasses, and other consumer products; and a bottle of the award winning 1973 Cabernet Sauvignon. See accessions: 1998.0181 and 1998.3058.
Existence and Location of Copies
Reference copy cassettes of oral history interviews and reference copy VHS are available for researcher use.
Processing Information
Collection processed by Cindy Ott, 2002.

Using the Collection
Preferred Citation
Stag's Leap Wine Cellars Documentation Project, 1960-2002, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.
Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open for research. Only reference copies of audiovisual materials may be used.

Related Materials
Materials in the Archives Center
American Wine History Documentation Project Records, 1976-2002, Archives Center collection # 817, has recorded interviews, photographs, and other documentary materials created and collected by the American Food and Wine History team.

Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Interviews -- 2000-2010 Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Newsletters -- 20th century Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Videotapes -- 1990-2000 Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Wine industry Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Wine and wine making Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Audiotapes -- 1990-2000 Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Business records -- 20th century Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Clippings -- 1950-2000 Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs -- 20th century Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Oral history -- 1990-2000 Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
P.O. Box 37012
Suite 1100, MRC 601
Washington, D.C. 20013-7012