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.
Mendocino AVA was established in 1984 and amended in 1989. It includes numerous sub-appellations. Mendocino AVA is entirely within Mendocino County, and the AVA is known for its Mediterranean climate. Vintners successfully grow Carignan, Charbono, Grenache, Zinfandel, Petit Sirah and Syrah. In cooler parts of the region Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are also grown. Mendocino County is home to nearly 600 vineyards, and many have been certified organic for decades, thanks to the region’s famous “green and sustainable” approach to agriculture and nearly everything else. Mendocino was named for 16th century explorers, a pair of brothers whose last name was Mendoza. Winemaking, however, didn’t start until the 19th century when some would-be gold miners decided it was more profitable to make wine than to pan for gold. Italian immigrants in the late 19th century continued to establish winemaking ventures.
This red wine is relatively light and can pair with a wide variety of foods. The grape prefers cooler climates and the wine is most often associated with Burgundy, Champagne and the U.S. west coast. Regional differences make it nearly as fickle as it is flexible.