Marcus Notaro was named Winemaker at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars in May 2013, bringing with him close to two decades of expertise and passion for producing world-class Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines. Prior to joining Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Marcus had been making red wines in Washington since 1995 and in 2003 became winemaker at Col Solare, a prestigious winery located in the state’s celebrated Red Mountain appellation. Like Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Col Solare is a partnership between Ste. Michelle Wine Estates and Marchesi Antinori of Italy.
Since 2003, Marcus has been honing a style of Cabernet Sauvignon that unites old world and new world traditions and innovations, similar to the philosophy long espoused by Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars. It is his understanding of this signature winemaking style – one of elegance and balance, ripeness and restraint – as well as his ability to express both the terroir of the vineyard and the true varietal character of the grape, that make him ideally suited for continuing the winemaking legacy at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars.
Marcus loves the complexity of Cabernet Sauvignon saying, “It can make a rich, powerful wine without being heavy while truly expressing where it was grown.” This passion is what drew Marcus to Napa Valley and Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars along with the opportunity to create wines from a historic property. With several vintages now under his belt in Napa Valley, Marcus is committed to expressing the unique attributes of the winery’s estate vineyards. “The style of wine I want to craft favors balance and complexity, richness and elegance and captures the unique characteristics of the vineyard,” he says.
Marcus looks forward to working with the iconic estate vineyards at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars each new harvest. “With each vintage I learn more about how Cabernet Sauvignon expresses itself in the unique microclimates on the FAY and S.L.V. estate vineyards,” Marcus says. “Everything begins in the vineyard and then it all comes together in the cellar. You need to do what the vineyard and the vintage tell you.”
As winemaker at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Marcus manages the winemaking process from grape to bottle, working with vineyard managers and growers, overseeing winemaking regimes and carrying out blending trials. He also works with Ste. Michelle Wine Estates Senior Vice President of Winemaking and Vineyard Operations Doug Gore and Marchesi Antinori Chief Enologist Renzo Cotarella to evaluate final blends of each vintage.
While working at Col Solare, Notaro developed a strong rapport with the Antinori vineyard and winemaking teams during frequent travels to the Antinori estates in Tuscany. That experience has helped him foster an international perspective that fuses both partners’ winemaking philosophies.
“I love the complexity of Cabernet Sauvignon. It can make a rich, powerful wine without being heavy while truly expressing where it was grown.”