The Baldacci Family Vineyards property was purchased in 1997 from the Eagen family, who had owned it for many generations. Initially, Thomas Baldacci intended only to make a real estate investment, but something about the land unlocked his imagination. He chose to nurture his interest in grape growing and winemaking here, and what was once a simple real estate deal became a path toward a lasting heritage for his family.
Thomas Baldacci’s vision for the property was to cultivate Cabernet Sauvignon, which is the benchmark of the Stags Leap District. The soils are characteristic of the appellation: gravelly and loamy, with a heavy clay influence. Deep soils and cool afternoon breezes make the Baldacci vineyards a perfect environment to grow grapes that can stand alongside some of the best-known Cabernet Sauvignon’s in the world. The primary vines are currently Cabernet Sauvignon Clone 8 with new vineyard plantings of Clone 337, Clone 7 and the Heritage Tokalon Clone 31. The hillside beside the cave entrance was also planted in 2002 and is expected to produce deeply concentrated flavors because of the stressful growing conditions. In fact, the hillside grapes may be so distinct that they will yield yet another “designated” wine. Time will tell.
The Baldacci family’s approach to winemaking is as authentic as their personalities. When they began, Thomas intended to use all of the grapes on the estate for production—however, he quickly realized the difficulty of selling 3,000 cases per year as an unknown! Instead, he sold surplus grapes off of the property to other nearby wineries until 2006. In the meantime, his desire to craft a bold, distinctive wine took shape under John Clannon, Baldacci’s first winemaker.
Originally from Australia, Clannon shared Baldacci’s belief that the essence of great wine comes from the land. He took the Estate fruits and made two different wines, the Black Label Estate Stags Leap Cabernet and the Brenda’s Vineyard Cabernet. A small amount of Cabernet Franc was blended into the Black Label, which was particularly well-received for its unique combination of firm, ripe fruit and deep, herbaceous earthiness.
The style of the wine changed in 2003 when Rolando Herrera took over as winemaker, bringing his characteristics and point of view into the process. At the time, the vineyard was producing three wines from the Estate—the Black Label Estate Stags Leap, Brenda’s Vineyard and the IV Sons Stags Leap Cabernets. Rolando decided to create the best wines possible for each level, highlighting the characteristics from the Estate fruit. The Black Label Cabernet is a blend of vineyard blocks, but still 100% Cabernet; the Brenda’s Vineyard continues to be produced from the same unique section of Block 1 that was originally identified with the 2000 vintage; and, finally, he adds the Estate Cabernet Franc to the IV Sons, giving it a much broader appeal with a rounded mouth feel.
In addition to the Estate Cabernets, Baldacci Family Vineyards also offers painstakingly produced wines for the Family Collection. Rolando makes these wines on the property utilizing grapes carefully sourced from unique vineyards in Napa and Sonoma. Recognizing that his needs were expanding, Thomas Baldacci also purchased a Carneros vineyard in 2003 to secure control over additional grape supplies. The 23-acre property was replanted with the current Family Collection varietals, as well as some additional ones. This new venture will produce Pinot Noir (from many different clones), Merlot, Syrah, Gewürztraminer and Chardonnay.