October 1, 2022


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Jack Cakebread, Photographer Turned Napa Vintner, Dies at 92

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From vehicle mechanic and qualified photographer to vintner, Jack Cakebread discovered achievements no make any difference in which the road took him. Moving to Napa Valley in the 1970s, he released Cakebread Cellars, and about the up coming 5 a long time crafted it into an internationally identified spouse and children-owned winery. Cakebread died April 26 at age 92.

In the course of his profession, Cakebread created a array of wines from Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel to Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. But it was Chardonnay that sealed his legacy. At a time when the grape was getting a next in California, he and his vineyard assisted pioneer a rich, fruit-centered design that is nonetheless the basis for numerous modern Chardonnays.

Cakebread was born in California in 1929. His father experienced started out a car or truck fix organization in Oakland a couple of decades earlier, and he invested substantially of his early everyday living in the shop. In 1939, the loved ones acquired a ranch in Contra Costa County exactly where Cakebread obtained his to start with taste of farming, studying how to expand almonds, walnuts and stone fruits.

By 1948 he had turn out to be a companion in his father’s garage. But it was his facet business as a freelance photographer that would in the end direct him to wine.

Throughout the 1950s and ’60s, Cakebread examined beneath the influential American photographer Ansel Adams. Then in 1972, he traveled to Napa for a images assignment whilst performing on The Treasury of American Wines, by Nathan Chroman. When there he made the decision to stop by his near good friends, the Sturdivants, for lunch.

The Sturdivant family owned a 22-acre ranch in Rutherford with a vineyard. Above a bowl of soup, Cakebread offhandedly stated that he would purchase their land if they at any time made a decision to provide it. They referred to as that afternoon accepting his offer.

Jack utilized an advance from the ebook for a down payment on the land. He and his spouse, Dolores, ripped out the existing winery and planted Sauvignon Blanc. Even though waiting for the vines to experienced, he procured grapes from Trefethen Vineyards and manufactured 4 barrels of Chardonnay, providing the wine to a retail outlet in Napa.

In the beginning, the Cakebreads continued to operate the garage, functioning on the winery all through the evenings and weekends. They relied on close friends and household, specially their 3 sons, to deliver the wines. Dolores would cook dinner foods in Oakland and deliver them with her to serve to shoppers who made available to assistance all around the winery.

That link to food items led to the generation of a foods and wine plan built precisely to highlight the bounty of American delicacies. Released in 1987, the American Harvest Workshop introduced hundreds of neighborhood chefs and food purveyors to Napa for seminars, pairings and dinners.

The 1980s had been a time of expansion for the spouse and children. They purchased a 12-acre ranch adjacent to their house and Cakebread started advertising and marketing the wines abroad. Their son Bruce joined the vineyard right out of higher education, having more than as winemaker. Son Dennis later took around the gross sales and marketing and advertising aspect of the enterprise.

When the vine pest phylloxera strike Napa Valley in the 1990s, the loved ones experienced to replant many of their vines. Ever the optimist, Jack observed the crisis as a prospect to commence contemporary. He spent thousands on multispectral imaging, a mapping know-how made use of by NASA, to take shots of his vineyards. He also invested in humidity-reading through probes to examine the soils.

All over the very same time, the vineyard started off seeking to Carneros as a cooler internet site for its Chardonnay, and extra Pinot Noir to the lineup. It also expanded its vineyards, getting homes in Anderson Valley, Carneros and Napa. The vineyard now owns 13 vineyards representing approximately 560 acres.

In addition to marketing overseas, Cakebread actively promoted Napa and its wines at household. He was president of the Napa Valley Vintners affiliation in 1990. He was also a member of the board of directors for the Wine Sector Council and served as president of the Winegrowers of Napa County.

In 2002 Cakebread handed duty of the day-to-day operations to his son Bruce, who turned president and main operating officer. Jack remained CEO of the winery till 2015, guaranteeing that the winery and his legacy would are living on effectively right after he was gone.

Dolores Cakebread handed away in 2020. Jack is survived by sons Steve, Dennis and Bruce, four grandchildren and two wonderful-grandchildren.

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