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Wine Country Inn Saint Helena, California
Wine Country Inn Saint Helena, California
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Wine Country Inn and Cottages Journal

Adventures In Napa Valley, California


The Tasting that Shocked the World: Relive the 1976 ‘Judgment of Paris’

Chateau Montelena in Calistoga California
Pictured above, Chateau Montelena in Calistoga California; famous for winning the 1976 Judgment of Paris Chardonnay competition.

Once a sleepy, overlooked California wine region, the Paris Wine Tasting of 1976 competition would go on to change wine country as we know it. On May 24, 1976, nine of France’s foremost wine experts came together for a blind tasting that pitted California Chardonnays and Cabernet Sauvignons against French varietals from some of the top winemakers in the world.

California wine rated best in both red and white wine categories, shocking the wine world and launching Napa Valley into the international spotlight. Over four decades since, the wineries that rocked the Judgment of Paris are still going strong. Let’s take a look at the renowned wineries that put Napa Valley on the map.

Our staff at the Wine Country Inn & Cottages will happily arrange your visit to these celebrated wineries during your next Napa Valley getaway. Book your idyllic wine country vacation now with our Advance Purchase Package rate for special savings.

Cabernet Sauvignons

Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars. Their vintage 1973 Cabernet Sauvignon was rated the top red wine of the competition, beating out several Bordeaux varietals from esteemed French winemakers. Visit their historic estate off of the Silverado Trail in Napa for a wine tasting overlooking the vineyards and rocky Stags Leap Palisades.

Heitz Cellar: Martha’s Vineyard has been a collector’s favorite for decades. Named one of the ‘Top 12 wines of the 20th century’ by Wine Spectator, this Cabernet Sauvignon is the first vineyard-designated wine in Napa Valley. Located in the Spring Valley of St. Helena, you can visit the beautiful estate and their 1898 hand-chiseled gray perlite stone cellar for a tasting of this legendary Judgment of Paris wine.

Clos Du Val. Clos Du Val’s Cabernet Sauvignon has been recognized for decades since its admittance into the Judgment of Paris. Visit their historic vineyards in Napa to try their Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, aged in French oak barrels with rich and supple flavors of plum, boysenberry, and cocoa.

Mayacamas Vineyards & Winery. Since 1889, Mayacamas Vineyards has been propelled by generations of families to make it the beloved institution it is today. Most famous for their 1971 vintage Cabernet Sauvignon entered in the competition, Mayacamas Vineyards continues to retain its old world charm tucked high up on Napa’s Mount Vedeer. Make an appointment for a tasting and to view the classic winery since its latest restoration in 2013.

Freemark Abbey Winery. The only winery in the competition to have both red and white wine entries, Freemark Abbey in St. Helena has an extensive wine library and northern Napa’s first California-inspired yakitori restaurant on site. Try their Cabernet Comparative tasting for an in-depth taste of current and historic releases of the varietal.

Chardonnays

Chateau Montelena Winery. The most famous winery to emerge from the Judgment of Paris, Chateau Montelena took the wine world by storm after their first place win in the Chardonnay competition. The 2008 film Bottle Shock starring Chris Pine and Alan Rickman is based on this historic win. Visit their English Gothic chateau built into the Calistoga hillside for an estate tour and tasting.

Spring Mountain Vineyard. Placing fourth in the Chardonnay competition, Spring Mountain Vineyard continues to delight with their estate-grown artisanal wines. Their century-old estate includes four vineyards, historic caves, and a lush greenhouse garden surrounded by roses and olive trees.

Veedercrest Wines. Veedercrest’s 1972 Chardonnay was acclaimed as the most “French” in style of all the Chardonnay wines entered in the competition. Veedercrest continued its star-studded legacy after being served at White House dinners under President Jimmy Carter and to Pope John Paul II during a visit to Philadelphia.

Let Wine Country Inn serve as your home base during your Napa Valley vacation. Our luxurious rooms are the perfect place to relax and unwind after a long day exploring these historic wineries.