Cliff Lede Vineyards was founded in 2002 by Cliff Lede following the acquisition of 60 acres in the Stags Leap District of Napa Valley. With a focus on producing wines from estate vineyards, Cliff engaged industry experts to redesign and replant the majority of the estate. The plantings were so specific and precise to each soil type and exposure that, to keep track without having to refer to a clipboard, Cliff decided to name each block after some of his favourite rock songs and albums. From ‘My Generation’ to ‘Dark Side of the Moon,’ he created what is known today as the Cliff Lede Vineyards ‘Rock Blocks.’ The winemaking team gets creative with this innovation, annually crafting a small-lot Rock Block Series ‘mash up’ of two or more blocks, featured in the tasting room and wine club.
Farmed by Director of Vineyard Operations Allison Wilson and her team, the estate is split into two distinct vineyards in the northern corner of the Stags Leap District appellation. The steep, southwest-facing hillside vineyard that surrounds Poetry Inn is the Poetry Vineyard. Next to the hillside, The Rhythm Vineyard sits on the valley floor surrounding the tasting room and winery. The soil is predominantly gravelly loam thanks to the two rocky hillsides on the vineyard’s southern border. The plantings on Rhythm Vineyard include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Sauvignon Blanc, and Sémillon.
The modern winery, designed by world-renowned architect Howard Backen and completed in 2005, combines time-tested techniques with innovative technology. The winery utilizes a three-tier sorting line including an optical sorting machine, which sorts grapes based upon quality settings established by the winemaker. A custom crane system gently delivers the berries to tank by gravity before fermentation. In 2011, a 300–kilowatt solar panel field was installed to fully power the winery. Wastewater is captured for irrigation and an extensive cave system provides a naturally cool space for wines to age.
Cliff Lede Vineyards’ production is overseen by Director of Winemaking Christopher Tynan and Winemaker Travis Bullard. Wines produced include Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley; Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District; Cabernet Sauvignon, Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard; the Rock Block Series, Stags Leap District; Songbook, Napa Valley; and the flagship wine, Poetry, Stags Leap District, among others that are offered only to wine club members.