Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Founders Donate $4 Million to Smithsonian

The founders of Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Warren and Barbara Winiarski, made waves when their Cabernet Sauvignon stood out at the Judgment of Paris in 1976, enhancing the reputation of their winery and Napa Valley. They dedicated their legacy 20 years later when they donated $50,000 to the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian Institution to fund a research initiative on the history of wine from Napa and the United States, who helped establish the museum’s American Food History Project.

On June 7, the Smithsonian announced that the Winiarskis will help secure the future of this project with a $4 million bequest.

Rightly for the Smithsonian, the Winiarskis claim that their donations were partly inspired by the history of the United States. “I like to imagine Thomas Jefferson would be thrilled to see how far we’ve come as a wine-producing country,” Warren said. wine spectator via email, “as a man who believed that wine had a civilizing effect on society and that America would one day make wines ‘undoubtedly as good’ as any in the world.”

But Warren also has her sights set on the future and hopes this endowment will preserve the Food History Project. In addition to supporting exhibitions, collecting and research, the latest donation will fund a new museum curatorship – the curator Winiarski of the history of food and wine. “Barbara and I are particularly pleased that the permanent [curatorship] includes ‘wine’ in the job title,” Warren said. “The title not only acknowledges the proper place of wine at the table of American history, but it also completes the arc of American wine history.”

The Smithsonian team hopes to raise additional funds through their new 25 at 25 Initiative: Food Fund for the Future, which marks 25 years since the Winiarskis’ initial donation and the exhibit she funded, ‘Red , White & American: Wine in American History and Culture.’ Their goal is to secure at least 25 donations of $25,000 each, and the Julia Child Foundation for Food and Culinary Arts has already pledged a donation. (Julia Child’s Kitchen was one of the Food History Project’s first acquisitions and remains an essential exhibit.) In addition to providing general support, this initiative will help the Smithsonian bring food history to a more wide range of people and to collect research from a wider range of people.

“We are thrilled and very grateful to the Winiarskis for their vision to document the impact of viticulture and the evolution of American winemaking and the food culture that goes with it,” said Anthea M. Hartig, director of the Smithsonian’s Elizabeth MacMillan, in a statement. “Their support over the decades and this generous bequest will maintain and enhance the nuanced central place of food and wine history for the benefit of our many audiences.” The Smithsonian’s food and wine programs will be celebrated at an event on Nov. 4 alongside the presentation of the 2021 Julia Child Award.

Now owners of Arcadia Vineyards in Napa, the Winiarskis notably sold Stag’s Leap in 2007 to a Washington’s Ste. Michelle Wine Estates and Piero Antinori of Tuscany for $185 million. Their iconic story became part of the National Museum of American History’s permanent collection when they presented the Smithsonian with a bottle of their 1973 Cabernet, the same vintage that won the nod from the judges in the red category at the Judgment of Paris. .

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Elisha A. Tilghman