Forty years in the business and growing by the day! This is the story of Cakebread Cellars, an iconic Napa Valley wine estate started by an auto-repair owner from Oakland who spent his weekends working on the vines way back in 1973. A lot has changed since Jack and Dolores Cakebread began their wine adventure. Today, both their sons – Bruce, who is President; and Dennis who looks after sales and marketing – are working full-time in the winery and the land holding has spread from 20 acres to 65 in the Home Ranch and from one ranch to 15 (totalling 1,100 acres). Left: Bruce Cakebread at 1911, The Imperial, New Delhi
Bruce Cakebread, who was in India recently, spent all his high-school weekends working on developing the property with his parents. He graduated from the Viticulture and Enology Department of the University of California at Davis in 1978 and the very next year replaced his father as winemaker.
“What’s changed here over the past 40 years are the people, the technology
and the amount of land we own,” he says. “Today, we have 70 full-time employees, plus 30 who work seasonally. Our winemaker, Julianne Laks, has been with us 26 years, and our cellar master, Brian Lee has been here 25, so we’ve had continuity in our winemaking department. What hasn’t changed at all is our basic philosophy, which is to continue improving every year,” he adds.
Cakebreads Cellars are a must stop for wine lovers and tourists alike. In the early days, they would ask any visitors to carry old clothes with them and make them work in the vineyards before offering them a wholesome meal from Dolores’ kitchen. Today, they have a full-fledged restaurant and were among the pioneers of the “wine and food pairing” gastronomic journey that has become a by-word today. Their Executive Chef and Culinary Director, Bruce Streeter, has been with them for 23 years and conducts regular cooking classes as well as the famous American Harvest Workshop.
Cakebread Cellars has vineyard properties spread through out Napa Valley and recently added a location In the Anderson Valley. The winery ranches surrounding the production facility in Rutherford are where it all began. Today the winery owns 13 sites totalling 982 acres, 460 of which are currently planted.
Cakebread Cellars Wine Dinner at 1911, The Imperial New Delhi
Appetizer: Warm Cheese Soufflé and Beet Terrine
or Rare Smoked Tuna Loin with Avocado Mousse
Wines: Cakebread Cellars Chardonnay, Napa Valley 2011
Cakebread Cellars Chardonnay, Napa Valley 2003
Cakebread Cellars Chardonnay, Napa Valley 1998
Soup: Cream of Green Peas with Coffee Drops
Wine: Cakebread Cellars Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley 2010
Main Course: Braised Lamb Osso Buco with Root Vegetables or
Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni, Tomato jus and Basil oil
Wines: Cakebread Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2009
Cakebread Cellars Dancing Bear Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain, Napa Valley 2005