Why Visit Cliff Lede Vineyards?
- You love rock and roll
- You enjoy sipping on vino in a charming outdoor setting near the vines where said wine came from
- You didn’t have time to make an appointment and are looking for a winery with a bar to belly up to in Yountville
- You like your wine with a side of entertainment
Cliff Lede Vineyards
Founded in 2002 by its namesake, Cliff Lede Vineyards is a winery that exudes a welcoming, laid back charm on a gorgeous sixty acre estate in the Stag’s Leap District of Napa Valley. Formerly a sparkling wine house, Cliff Lede purchased the vineyards, visitor center, and caves in 2002. With an emphasis on producing wines from estate vineyards, Cliff has truly made the winery his own by producing noteworthy wines and allowing his love for rock and roll to shine through.
Not only are the vineyards named after various rock songs (think Elton John’s Your Song and Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon), there is also a backstage room which can be booked for private tastings. This room is killer! The Backstage Lounge regularly features rotating art exhibits. Upon our visit, the walls were lined with guitars signed by famous musicians and some seriously rad pieces of art and photography as well. The vibe at Cliff Lede is definitely cool.
I recommend reserving a seated tasting for the outdoor patio if possible and request Art for your host! He is absolutely hilarious and his anecdotes helped make our tasting a good time. My favorite Art-ism –
What is the best temperature to store your wine at? 98.6 degrees because wine does you no good until it’s in you!
Art has been with Cliff Lede for 5 years, so he definitely knows his stuff. The outdoor patio is beautiful and there’s a great photo op by the Cliff Lede signature rock and roll hearts statue. You can also easily walk out into the vineyards too!
In addition to the Cliff Lede Vineyards property, Cliff purchased a small winery in the Anderson Valley in 2002. He renamed it FEL in honor of his mother, Florence Elsie Lede. A couple of years later, the Lede family gained another vineyard in the Anderson Valley with a quality reputation for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. During a seated tasting at Cliff Lede, you get to taste wines from both the FEL and Cliff Lede labels. Thus, tasting wines with diverse backgrounds – Anderson Valley vs. Stag’s Leap District. The Cliff Lede portfolio now also includes the Poetry Inn, just in case you’re looking for accommodations near Yountville!
Reservations and Tasting Experiences
The tasting room at Cliff Lede is open daily from 10:00am to 4:00pm. Walk-ins are welcome for $35 flights at the bar for up to 6 guests. Groups of 6 or more require a reservation.
Cliff Lede offers multiple options for seated tastings, all of which require reservations. A seated tasting experience on the Veranda will run you $50 per person available 10:00am – 2:30pm daily. You may also reserve a seated tasting in the Backstage Lounge at $75 per person also available 10:00am – 2:30pm. Rather than booking a tasting appointment, you may also buy wines by the glass and kick back in the FEL Pinot Garden. For other elevated tasting experiences at alternative unique venues throughout the property, contact the Cliff Lede Group Sales Manager.
2015 FEL Chardonnay, Anderson Valley
- Wine saw no new oak and did not undergo malolactic fermentation.
- Similar style to a Chablis.
- Crisp, bright, and fresh with notes of green melon, grapefruit, and Meyer lemon.
2017 FEL Pinot Gris, Anderson Valley
- Super crisp with a lot of bright fruit acidity. Art and I had many jokes about loving acid with this one!
- Grapes came from two vineyards in the deep end of Anderson Valley in close proximity to the Pacific Ocean. I could taste a salinity similar to a salty ocean breeze.
- Aromatics of kaffir lime, verbena, and flint.
- Bright acidity gives way to a delicately creamy texture on the palate. Partially aged sur lie for 5 months (35%)
- The perfect wine for both spicy Asian dishes and delicate seafood. Think Thai green curry, Sichuan sautéed scallops and green beans, or butter poached langoustines.
2014 FEL Pinot Noir, Donnelly Creek Vineyard
- Toasty nose. Wine saw 50% new French Oak during 16 month aging period.
- Fruit forward, dark red fruit, cherry cola. Hints of vanilla and coffee too from the new oak.
- Richer tannins than a typical Pinot Noir. Bright finish lingers on the palate.
2015 Cliff Lede Claret, Napa Valley
- Red Bordeaux blend. “Claret” is Old English for red.
- Dense ruby color.
- Notes of stewed berries, caramelized fig, black cherry, vanilla, and espresso.
- Extremely easy drinking, luscious red with silky tannins.
2014 Cliff Lede Cabernet Sauvignon, Calistoga
- A Cabernet to drink now vs. later.
- The vineyard is shaded by Diamond Mountain, producing less ripe grapes with thinner skins.
- Delicate notes of cassis, lavender, violets, and black licorice are accompanied by truffle and mushroom flavors
- A very elegant, almost ladylike Cabernet.
- I preferred this Cabernet over the 2014 Scarlett Love.
2014 Cliff Lede Scarlet Love Rock Block Series, Stag’s Leap District
- Rock Block series is an annual tradition of blending Cliff Lede’s most articulate vineyard sites.
- This is a blend of two blocks – Grateful Dead’s “Scarlett Begonias” in the Twin Peaks vineyard and Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love” in the Poetry Vineyard.
- Deep notes of stewed cherries and black licorice with a long, lingering finish.