Jack Cakebread, Photographer Turned Napa Vintner, Dies at 92

From vehicle mechanic and professional photographer to vintner, Jack Cakebread located success no subject exactly where the street took him. Moving to Napa Valley in the 1970s, he released Cakebread Cellars, and around the upcoming five a long time designed it into an internationally recognized family-owned vineyard. Cakebread died April 26 at age 92.

Through his career, Cakebread made a variety 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 attaining a subsequent in California, he and his winery served pioneer a wealthy, fruit-centered design that is even now the foundation for a lot of contemporary Chardonnays.

Cakebread was born in California in 1929. His father experienced started off a motor vehicle repair organization in Oakland a number of decades earlier, and he invested a great deal of his early everyday living in the store. In 1939, the family members acquired a ranch in Contra Costa County where Cakebread received his very first style of farming, discovering how to expand almonds, walnuts and stone fruits.

By 1948 he experienced come to be a partner 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 studied beneath the influential American photographer Ansel Adams. Then in 1972, he traveled to Napa for a photography assignment when operating on The Treasury of American Wines, by Nathan Chroman. While there he decided to pay a visit to his shut mates, the Sturdivants, for lunch.

The Sturdivant relatives owned a 22-acre ranch in Rutherford with a winery. In excess of a bowl of soup, Cakebread offhandedly pointed out that he would buy their land if they at any time resolved to offer it. They identified as that afternoon accepting his supply.

Jack used an progress from the reserve for a down payment on the land. He and his spouse, Dolores, ripped out the present vineyard and planted Sauvignon Blanc. Though ready for the vines to experienced, he purchased grapes from Trefethen Vineyards and manufactured four barrels of Chardonnay, marketing the wine to a retail store in Napa.

In the commencing, the Cakebreads continued to operate the garage, operating on the vineyard during the evenings and weekends. They relied on buddies and spouse and children, specially their three sons, to produce the wines. Dolores would cook dinner foods in Oakland and deliver them with her to provide to customers who offered to assistance close to the vineyard.

That relationship to foodstuff led to the development of a meals and wine method intended specially to emphasize the bounty of American delicacies. Introduced in 1987, the American Harvest Workshop introduced hundreds of regional cooks and meals purveyors to Napa for seminars, pairings and dinners.

The 1980s were a time of expansion for the loved ones. They ordered a 12-acre ranch adjacent to their assets and Cakebread started promoting the wines overseas. Their son Bruce joined the winery instantly out of university, taking about as winemaker. Son Dennis afterwards took around the 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 numerous of their vines. Ever the optimist, Jack noticed the disaster as a probability to begin fresh new. He invested countless numbers on multispectral imaging, a mapping know-how made use of by NASA, to take photos of his vineyards. He also invested in dampness-examining probes to evaluate the soils.

All around the similar time, the vineyard started out on the lookout to Carneros as a cooler web page for its Chardonnay, and added Pinot Noir to the lineup. It also expanded its vineyards, acquiring homes in Anderson Valley, Carneros and Napa. The winery now owns 13 vineyards symbolizing just about 560 acres.

In addition to promoting overseas, Cakebread actively promoted Napa and its wines at property. He was president of the Napa Valley Vintners affiliation in 1990. He was also a member of the board of administrators for the Wine Market place Council and served as president of the Winegrowers of Napa County.

In 2002 Cakebread handed responsibility of the day-to-working day operations to his son Bruce, who turned president and main working officer. Jack remained CEO of the winery until finally 2015, making certain that the vineyard and his legacy would reside on properly soon after he was gone.

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

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