California’s Napa Valley has become well known as the epicenter of American wine production. Although there are many other regions in the U.S. that produce exceptionally fine wines there is a mythos around the Napa Valley. It is not only built on the efforts of the cellarmasters and the incredible wines (of many different types) that they produce but also on the sheer natural beauty of the region. Here Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon have reigned supreme for decades – but something is changing. And at the forefront of that change are the producers of the much-admired Cakebread cellars wines.
Cakebread has its roots deep in the soil of the Napa Valley. It was there that Jack Cakebread seemed to have taken heart from the classic poem by Robert Frost – ‘The Road Not Taken’ – he certainly chose the path ‘less traveled by’
. At least judging from his life prior to his leap into the world of viticulture. Prior to that decision, he was a partner in his families auto repair shop in Oakland. However, his creativity and passion were apparent to all. He had the good fortune to explore one of his passions – photography under the tutelage of the legendary Ansel Adams. He was sent to a piece of property which was to become Cakebread Cellars to obtain shots for what was to later become the well respected ‘Treasury of American Wines’. He was smitten and purchased the property that same day. And the long journey towards the incredible success of Cakebread Wines had begun.
Today the estate is perhaps best known for its white wines – namely Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc which have both gained a loyal following – primarily based one the exquisite way that they pair with seafood from oysters and other shellfish to sushi. Especially noteworthy is one of the latest offerings – the classic Cakebread Reserve Chardonnay with its exquisite notes of grapefruit and lemongrass. This wine takes full advantage of the unique properties of the Napa Valley soil and climate. It boasts a wonderfully balanced mineral tang and strong oak notes.
What is perhaps not as well known is that the Cakebread Cellars wine lineup extends to 20 different offerings. these now span a wonderful lineup of Cabernet Sauvignons, Zinfandel, a variety of red blends, Merlot offerings and some great Syrah efforts.
Cakebread has done what many other older estates in the region have failed to do. It has successfully straddled the fence between tradition and a buying public that demands more of the same – and more of the quality that they have become well known for when producing their white wines. At the same time, they have managed to embrace change. This is a an approach that requires enormous skill, both in marketing and in innovation. It is clear from the direction that the winemakers at Cakebread are taking that they are committed not to respecting and celebrating their past success – but forging ahead into a brave new world of Napa Valley excellence.