Cakebread Cellars in Rutherford, Napa Valley, was founded in 1973 by Jack Cakebread, a professional photographer who came to Napa Valley on an assignment and fell in love with the place. He and his wife Dolores bought a 22-acre vineyard and had their first vintage in 1973. It was a Chardonnay sold out of a small shop in Yountville. Today the winery is still owned by the Cakebread family, though it has increased to 77 acres. The estate is still known for excellent Chardonnays, though they now also produce Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Pinot Noir. The winemaker at Cakebread is Julianne Laks. Signature Cabs include Vine Hill Ranch and Dancing Bear Cabernet Sauvignons.
Napa Valley AVA is the most famous winemaking region in the United States and one of the most prestigious in the world. With nearly 43,000 acres of vineyards and more than 300 wineries, it is the heart of fine wine production in the United States. Winemaking started in Napa in 1838 when George C. Yount planted grapes and began producing wine commercially. Other winemaking pioneers followed in the late 19th century, including the founders of Charles Krug, Schramsberg, Inglenook and Beaulieu Vineyards. An infestation of phylloxera, an insect that attacks vine roots, and the onset of Prohibition nearly wiped out the nascent Napa wine industry in the early 20th century. But by the late 1950s and early 1960s Robert Mondavi and other visionaries were producing quality wines easily distinguishable from the mass-produced jug wines made in California’s Central Valley. Napa Valley’s AVA was established in 1983, and today there are 16 sub-appellations within the Napa Valley AVA. Many grapes grow well in Napa’s Mediterranean climate, but the region is best known for Cabernet Sauvignon. Chardonnay is also very successfully cultivated, and about 30% of the AVA’s acreage is planted to white grapes, with the majority of those grapes being Chardonnay,