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Barbara Dvorak Winiarski Passes Away at 88 Years Old

Barbara Dvorak Winiarski
Barbara Dvorak Winiarski, 1933—2021

Barbara Dvorak Winiarski, co-founder of Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, artist, preservationist, and philanthropist, died at 88 years old, peacefully, at her home in Napa Valley, California, on October 8, 2021.

Barbara was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, and spent childhood summers near the shores of the Chesapeake Bay. An artist at heart, Barbara first learned to paint from her father, who introduced her to oil paints and how to care for brushes at a young age. Her love for art grew throughout middle school and high school, where she learned how to work with different mediums and styles. Her inspirations were Michelangelo’s expressions of human life and portrait paintings by Vermeer and Rembrandt.

Barbara intended to major in art and art history after high school, but she chose to pursue a degree in liberal arts and philosophy from St. John’s College in Annapolis. She selected St. John’s, despite her parents’ desire that she be formally trained as a painter, because, in her words, she “wanted to learn about everything.” Barbara matriculated with the first group of women at the college, and it was there that she met her future husband, Warren Winiarski.

With dreams of a new life in wine, in 1964 the Winiarski family moved from Chicago, where Warren and Barbara were studying and teaching at the University of Chicago, to Napa Valley, California. In 1970, the Winiarskis purchased a prune orchard in what would become the Stags Leap District appellation, and Barbara and the children worked alongside Warren to establish a new winery there. They christened it Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars. Their first commercial release from the new facility, the 1973 S.L.V. Cabernet Sauvignon, would place first amongst the red wines in the now-famous1976 Judgment of Paris tasting.

The Winiarskis’ early years in the Napa Valley were spent advocating for the then-radical notion of creating an Agricultural Preserve to protect the Valley from the suburban sprawl that was fast eliminating farmland in most other Northern California counties. Since then, the Winiarskis have endowed the Land Trust of Napa County with almost 200 acres of property, which will never be developed. In 2017, the couple received the Land Trust of Napa County’s Acre by Acre Award.

Barbara and Warren have also been supporters of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History for over 25 years. Their generosity helped to establish the museum’s American Food and Wine History Project in 1996, as well as the subsequent, “FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950–2000” exhibition, in 2012. In 2021, with the mission of sustaining food and wine history for generations to come, the Winiarski Family Foundation donated $4 million to establish a permanent Curator of Food and Wine History position at the National Museum of American History.

The couple provided a transformational $50 million dollar pledge to their alma mater, St. John’s College – the largest gift in the history of the institution – to ensure affordable tuition for future students. The 2019 gift from the Winiarski Family Foundation established a challenge grant which has already reached its goal of $50 million dollars in matching funds.

Most recently, in October 2021, a $5.1 million gift from the Winiarski Family Foundation to Providence Queen of the Valley Medical Center provided funds for The Winiarski Stroke and Diagnostics Center, a 208-bed acute care facility in Napa. They also donated to NEWS (Napa Emergency Women’s Services) and Samaritan Family Shelter, both causes strongly supported by Barbara.

Barbara’s passion for art called to her throughout her life, although a busy schedule as wife, mother and winery owner often left her little time to paint. After a hiatus, Barbara picked up her paint brushes again in 1980, focusing on portraits of her children and loved ones. Old photographs also served to depict six generations of family members. Barbara’s paintings have been described as “having compelling intimacy. They capture moments in people’s daily lives while drawing the viewer into a space of contemplation.” Her life’s work was published in the 2018 book, Passages, which includes exquisite photographs of her paintings.

Barbara’s lighter, but no less passionate pleasures were gardening, fishing, watching birds and classic British Mystery stories.

Beloved wife of Warren Winiarski. Dearest mother of Kasia (Jim), Stephen (Shahnaz) and Julia. Cherished grandma of Gabe, Noah, Matin, Arren, Kiann, and Maia.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a gift in Barbara’s name to any of these organizations:

Napa Emergency Women’s Services (NEWS)

Clinic Ole (Ole Health)

Napa Valley Food Bank

• Samaritan Family Shelter (CANV)

Chesapeake Bay Trust

Please save the dates between Thursday, Oct 21 p.m., and Saturday, Oct. 23, for services. Details to follow.

Farmworker Foundation and Napa Valley Grapegrowers Fund Mobile Health Unit Through St. Helena Hospital

The mobile health unit can travel to vineyard sites and can test up to 100 vineyard workers per day.
The mobile health unit can travel to vineyard sites and can test up to 100 vineyard workers per day.

Napa, Calif.—The Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation (FWF) and Napa Valley Grapegrowers (NVG) announce a partnership with St. Helena Hospital Foundation (SHHF) to increase access to COVID-19 screening for farmworkers. NVG and FWF have jointly funded supplying and staffing a mobile health unit, capable of traveling to vineyard sites and testing up to 100 vineyard workers per day.  These funds have secured an initial order of 3,000 tests to be made available throughout harvest to vineyard workers.

“The St. Helena Hospital Foundation established the Mobile Health Unit to provide accessible medical resources to the community.  We’ve worked on the project for over a year and to see it used in this way, to provide COVID-19 testing support for our agricultural workforce through the Napa Valley Grapegrowers and Farmworker Foundation, I couldn’t be more proud,” said Karen Cakebread, Director for the NVG and SHHF, who helped launch the mobile testing effort, “It is exciting that the synergy between the organizations came together at a time when our community needs creative solutions and quick action to support our work force.”

Since the pandemic was declared in March, the FWF and NVG have dedicated over $200,000 to provide comprehensive safety resources in Spanish and English, social distancing vineyard signs, cloth face masks to over 10,000 farmworkers, and recently launched a statewide bilingual community education campaign via the FWF COVID-19 Task Force.  Providing critical access to testing is an important piece to ensure the continued health and wellbeing of Napa’s farmworkers. With the Mobile Health Unit launched, NVG and FWF continue to develop plans for increasing testing capabilities and opportunities in the community, to prevent COVID-19 and keep workers safe.

For information on the FWF COVID-19 Task Force, please refer to

About the Napa Valley Grapegrowers

The Napa Valley Grapegrowers is a non-profit trade organization that has played a vital role in strengthening Napa Valley’s reputation as a world-class viticultural region for 45 years.  Its mission is to preserve and promote Napa Valley’s world-class vineyards. NVG represents 726 Napa County grape growers and associated businesses.  Visit Napa Valley Grapegrowers and follow on Facebook and Instagram

About the Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation

Founded by the Napa Valley Grapegrowers in 2011, the mission of the Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation is to support and promote Napa Valley’s vineyard workers through education and professional development. The Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation is the only one of its kind in the United States, providing educational opportunities, advanced training programs, leadership and management classes, English literacy programs, and much more. To date, the Farmworker Foundation has offered education and professional development opportunities to more than 21,000 vineyard workers and their families.  Visit  Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation and follow on Facebook and Instagram

Caymus Vineyards Dismisses Federal Lawsuit Filed Against Governor Newsom Over Alleged Unfair Treatment of Napa Wineries in Initial Reopening Plan

The following is a formal press release from Caymus Vineyards

Rutherford, Calif.—Caymus Vineyards announced today the dismissal of its May 28, 2020 lawsuit against Governor Gavin Newsom and California State Public Health Officer Sonia Angell. Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, the lawsuit alleged unfair and disparate treatment in the state’s reopening plan for non-essential businesses. With Governor Newsom deciding to open tasting areas for all wineries, regardless of whether or not they serve food, Caymus has decided to dismiss its complaint.


Caymus Vineyards Files Federal Lawsuit Against Governor Newsom Alleging Discriminatory Treatment of Napa County Wineries in Reopening Plan

The following is a formal press release from Caymus Vineyards

Allowing wineries that serve food to open – while keeping closed wineries that offer wine tastings but no food – is arbitrary, contrary to public health, and violates U.S. and California Constitutions

Rutherford, Calif.—Caymus Vineyards announced today its filing of a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against Governor Gavin Newsom and California State Public Health Officer Sonia Angell alleging discriminatory treatment in the state’s reopening plan for non-essential businesses. The reopening plan’s continued closure of wineries that don’t serve food violates the Equal Protection, Due Process, and Takings Clauses of both the U.S. and California Constitutions. The lawsuit asks the court to allow Caymus Vineyards—and by extension all Napa County wineries—to reopen wine tastings, as Napa County has determined that it meets the state’s Phase 2 guidelines of Stage 2.


Take a (Virtual Trip) to California Wine Country

Ok, this is a bit silly, but I thought I’d share it anyway. With the massive amount of Zoom-ing going on—whether you’re wine tasting or just chatting with Mom—maybe you need a fun way to spice it up a bit. I’ve seen folks using generic, Zoom-supplied background images; a few people are savvy enough (and good enough photographers) to supply their own. Now, if you want to pretend you’re in Wine Country (or have other people “think” you are [right]) the Wine Institute is supplying images that “depict stunning vineyard and winery scenes across the Golden State.” It’s pretty cool, you got your classic Napa and Sonoma scenes, but also a few from Lake County, Paso Robles, and even El Dorado County.

Below is the formal press release, including all the links and instructions you’ll need. Just a bit of fun I thought I’d share—I know I’ll be downloading a few myself. Cheers.