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After decades of being owned by a multitude of owners - via Mexican land grants (Yajome Rancho), homesteading, a bounty award, and patents - the Grigsby family consolidated a 700-acre parcel where the current Stags' Leap estate resides today. The Grigsbys planted grapes on the land in 1872.
While the Manor House was being constructed Horace Chance had decided to take advantage of grapes on the property by making wine. By 1892, 80 acres of vineyards were in production. Since he had no winemaking facilities, he built a 150 foot wine cave by blasting into the volcanic rhyolite rock of the Palisades. The cave was the first to be built into the east side of the Napa Valley.
The origin of the name "Stags' Leap" is not well documented. Most common oral histories attribute it to a native Wappo legend of a stag leaping to escape hunters or leaping to its death in preference to being hunted down. Another version refers to a stag that eluded an entire generation of hunters, always leaping and vanishing at the last moment.