Cakebread Cellars winery would not exist had Jack Cakebread not visited Napa Valley to snap a few photos. Today, the winery is well known for making some of Napa Valley's greatest Cabernet Sauvignon wines.
Cakebread Cellar's winemaker, Julianne Laks, has spent more than a quarter of a century in the winemaking industry. Only the third winemaker in Cakebread Cellars' history, Laks is the first winemaker not part of the Cakebread family. She started as the enologist more than 20 years ago, and then apprenticed as assistant winemaker under Bruce Cakebread. When the head winemaker position became available in 2002, Laks was the natural choice.
Now, Laks oversees Cakebread Cellars' winemaking process, creating well-reviewed wines from an array of Napa Valley grapes including:
- Cabernet Sauvignon
- Rubiyat (Pinot Noir/Syrah blend)
- Pinot Noir
- Sauvignon Blanc
- Dancing Bear Ranch Bordeaux Blend (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc)
- Vin de Porche rose
The harvest procedure for Cakebread is one of constant attention to detail. They actually have plans laid out for each block of the vineyard, such as when to harvest, sample, and more. It's a big undertaking. A "game plan" includes how to press (de-stem or whole-cluster), fermentation instructions and which barrels to use. Then plan is entirely based on data from previous vintages and reflects the current growing season. It is a true blending of old world practices and the use of new world technology that you see many wineries adopting.
While visiting Napa Valley, Cakebread Cellars is a must visit, but you just can't drop in. Because of its popularity and traffic, the tasting room is only open by appointment. Tours are available by appointment, as well. In fact, Cakebread Cellars offers several different experience by appointment including:
- Select wine tasting
- Red wine tasting
- Reserve tasting
- Wine and food pairing experience
- Group tasting
- In-depth educational tour and tasting
When Jack Cakebread first visited Napa, he mentioned it would be nice to own a vineyard one day, and he just happened to know a family that had a ranch in California's wine country that was perfect for growing grapes. Luckily, the family that owned the ranch offered to sell it to Cakebread, and he purchased it.
The Early Years
When Jack and Dolores Cakebread bottled their first vintage of 1973 Chardonnay, they didn't run a huge ad campaign or promotional media blitz. Instead, they sold a few bottles to a local wine merchant in Yountville and hoped for the best. As visitors trickled in and picked up their bottles of Cakebread, the wine developed a following. The same visitors that were stopping buy to pick up a bottle from Groezinger's wine shop in Yountville, found themselves visiting the Cakebread winery itself.
Cakebread Cellars in the Present
Cakebread Cellars no longer counts on only local wine merchants to sell their wines. Cakebread wines are currently sold not only nationally, but internationally as well. Over the past 30 years, the vineyard has perfected the art of winemaking, introducing new technologies and techniques. Although the techniques and technologies have changed over the years, the family atmosphere remains the same and many family members work at the vineyard.
Getting More Information
Visit the Cakebread website to find information such as:
- Wine reviews
- Driving directions
- Hours of operation
- Details about the "American Harvest Workshop"
- Cooking classes
An American Classic
Cakebread Cellars is a leader in American winemaking, gaining status and helping to grow the reputation of Napa Valley. If you get a chance, pick up a bottle or visit the winery. You'll have a very good wine experience.