Warren Winiarski gave an up a promising academic career in Chicago to pursue his dream of making wine. He learnt his trade at Robert Mondavi before setting up Stag's Leap Wine Cellars in the heart of the Napa Valley in 1972. Success was instantaneous when the 1973 vintage of Cabernet Sauvignon took first place over leading red Bordeaux at a major comparative tasting in Paris in 1976.
In 1986 Warren Winiarski purchased the adjoining Fay Vineyard which, in what is known today as the Stag's Leap District Appellation, which had been planted by Nathan Fay in 1961. Cask 23, the proprietary red wine blend made only in select vintages, is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon from the Stag's Leap vineyard and the Fay Vineyards. Warren coined the descriptive phrase 'iron fist in a velvet glove' to describe his polished but sturdy Cabernets. Winemaker Michael Silacci joined the winery in 1995, and together with assistant winemaker Julia Winiarski is producing outstandingly complex, multi layered wines that are amongst the very finest in California.