top of page

The Californian Pioneers: Wineries That Shaped History at the Judgement of Paris

The Judgement of Paris, held on May 24, 1976, was a seismic event in the wine world. It pitted California's fledgling wineries against the well-established wine houses of France in a blind tasting competition. To the astonishment of many, California wines emerged victorious in both the red and white wine categories. This blog celebrates the pioneering Californian wineries that participated in this historic event and their lasting impact on the wine industry.

 


 

1973 Chateau Montelena Charddonay

1. Chateau Montelena Winery

 

Wine: 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay

 

Chateau Montelena Winery, nestled in Napa Valley, secured its place in history with its 1973 Chardonnay, which won first place in the white wine category. Founded in 1882, the winery underwent significant changes when Jim Barrett purchased and revitalized it in 1972. The victory of Chateau Montelena's Chardonnay was not just a win for the winery but a testament to the potential of California's terroir. Today, Chateau Montelena continues to be a symbol of excellence, producing critically acclaimed wines and attracting wine enthusiasts from around the world.

 


 
1973 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon

2. Stag's Leap Wine Cellars

 

Wine: 1973 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon

 

Stag's Leap Wine Cellars, another Napa Valley gem, achieved a remarkable victory with its 1973 Cabernet Sauvignon, which topped the red wine category. Founded by Warren Winiarski in 1970, the winery quickly gained a reputation for producing exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon. The triumph at the Judgement of Paris elevated Stag's Leap Wine Cellars to global fame and established Napa Valley as a premier wine-producing region. Today, the winery remains a benchmark for quality, continuing Winiarski's legacy of crafting world-class wines.

 


 

1970 Heitz Martha's Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

3. Heitz Wine Cellars

 

Wine: 1970 Heitz Martha's Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

 

Heitz Wine Cellars, established in 1961 by Joe Heitz, brought its renowned 1970 Martha's Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon to the Judgement of Paris. Although it did not take the top spot, the wine's inclusion underscored the high quality of California's offerings. Heitz Wine Cellars is celebrated for its single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignons, particularly from Martha's Vineyard, and remains a respected name in the wine industry, known for its commitment to excellence and tradition.

 


 
1969 Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon

4. Freemark Abbey Winery

 

Wine: 1969 Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon

 

Freemark Abbey, with its long history dating back to 1886, entered its 1969 Cabernet Sauvignon into the competition. The winery had already established a reputation for producing quality wines, and its participation in the Judgement of Paris further solidified its status. Today, Freemark Abbey continues to produce a range of highly regarded wines, maintaining its legacy of quality and innovation.

 


 

1971 Mayacamas Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon

5. Mayacamas Vineyards

 

Wine: 1971 Mayacamas Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon

 

Located in the Mount Veeder region of Napa Valley, Mayacamas Vineyards was represented by its 1971 Cabernet Sauvignon. Founded in 1889, the winery was revived in the 1950s by the Travers family, who focused on traditional winemaking techniques. The winery's inclusion in the Judgement of Paris highlighted the diversity and potential of California's wine regions. Mayacamas remains a revered name, known for its robust and age-worthy wines.

 


 

1972 Clos du Val Cabernet Sauvignon

6. Clos du Val Winery

 

Wine: 1972 Clos du Val Cabernet Sauvignon

 

Clos du Val, founded in 1972 by John Goelet and winemaker Bernard Portet, entered its 1972 Cabernet Sauvignon into the competition. The winery, located in the Stags Leap District of Napa Valley, aimed to produce wines with a French sensibility. Clos du Val's participation in the Judgement of Paris demonstrated the successful fusion of Old-World techniques with New World terroir. Today, the winery continues to produce elegant and balanced wines, honoring its founders' vision.

 


 

1971 Ridge Monte Bello Cabernet Sauvignon

7. Ridge Vineyards

 

Wine: 1971 Ridge Monte Bello Cabernet Sauvignon

 

Ridge Vineyards, situated in the Santa Cruz Mountains, showcased its 1971 Monte Bello Cabernet Sauvignon at the Judgement of Paris. Founded in 1959, the winery quickly gained a reputation for producing distinctive and high-quality wines. Monte Bello's performance in the competition affirmed the potential of non-Napa regions in California. Ridge Vineyards remains a leader in the industry, celebrated for its commitment to sustainable practices and exceptional wines.



 

 



Wine tasting judges at the Judgement of Paris

The triumphs of these Californian wineries at the Judgement of Paris not only put California on the global wine map but also sparked a renaissance in the New World wine industry. Their success challenged the hegemony of French wines and demonstrated that exceptional wines could be produced outside traditional European regions.

 

Today, these pioneering wineries continue to thrive, driven by a passion for quality and innovation. They have inspired countless new wineries across California and beyond, contributing to a more diverse and dynamic global wine industry. The Judgement of Paris remains a defining moment in wine history, a testament to the vision and dedication of these trailblazing vintners.

8 views0 comments

Comments


bottom of page