In Polish, Winiarski means "son of a vintner." But Warren Winiarski didn’t grow up planning to be a winemaker. His interest in the humanities and the liberal arts led him to a life in academia. During graduate school, Warren spent a year studying in Italy, and it was there that he learned the joy of wine as part of the dinner table.
In the early 1960s, the Napa Valley was experiencing a renaissance. In 1964, Warren and his wife Barbara left academic careers at the University of Chicago and drove their young family to California, joining a fresh wave of pioneers arriving in the valley. Warren spent the next several years gaining hands-on experience, first as an apprentice with Lee Stewart at Souverain Cellars and next as assistant winemaker at the newly created Robert Mondavi Winery.
Then he set his sights on finding land that was capable of producing wines of classic proportion and balance. He found it, in 1969, when he tasted grapegrowing pioneer Nathan Fay’s homemade Cabernet Sauvignon. As luck would have it, an adjoining ranch was for sale. In 1970, the Winiarskis purchased the land which is known today as S.L.V. Two years later, they acquired a winery site nearby, and Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars was born.