Jack Cakebread, Photographer Turned Napa Vintner, Dies at 92

From vehicle mechanic and expert photographer to vintner, Jack Cakebread identified achievements no matter where by the road took him. Shifting to Napa Valley in the 1970s, he introduced Cakebread Cellars, and around the upcoming five many years developed it into an internationally acknowledged loved ones-owned vineyard. Cakebread died April 29 at age 92.

During his profession, 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 next in California, he and his vineyard helped pioneer a loaded, fruit-centered style that is continue to the basis for lots of present day Chardonnays.

Cakebread was born in California in 1929. His father experienced began a car fix company in Oakland a couple a long time previously, and he spent a lot of his early existence in the store. In 1939, the household obtained a ranch in Contra Costa County the place Cakebread bought his initially flavor of farming, learning how to mature almonds, walnuts and stone fruits.

By 1948 he experienced come to be a lover in his father’s garage. But it was his facet small business as a freelance photographer that would eventually guide him to wine.

Throughout the 1950s and ’60s, Cakebread researched below the influential American photographer Ansel Adams. Then in 1972, he traveled to Napa for a images assignment while functioning on The Treasury of American Wines, by Nathan Chroman. Whilst there he made the decision to stop by his near pals, the Sturdivants, for lunch.

The Sturdivant spouse and children owned a 22-acre ranch in Rutherford with a vineyard. More than a bowl of soup, Cakebread offhandedly described that he would acquire their land if they ever determined to market it. They identified as that afternoon accepting his give.

Jack utilized an advance from the reserve for a down payment on the land. He and his wife, Dolores, ripped out the existing vineyard and planted Sauvignon Blanc. Even though waiting for the vines to experienced, he ordered grapes from Trefethen Vineyards and made 4 barrels of Chardonnay, marketing the wine to a retailer in Napa.

In the starting, the Cakebreads continued to operate the garage, performing on the winery all through the evenings and weekends. They relied on good friends and household, specially their 3 sons, to generate the wines. Dolores would cook dinner meals in Oakland and carry them with her to serve to prospects who presented to enable all-around the vineyard.

That connection to meals led to the development of a foodstuff and wine plan intended specifically to spotlight the bounty of American delicacies. Launched in 1987, the American Harvest Workshop introduced hundreds of local chefs and foodstuff purveyors to Napa for seminars, pairings and dinners.

The 1980s had been a time of growth for the loved ones. They procured a 12-acre ranch adjacent to their house and Cakebread commenced promoting the wines abroad. Their son Bruce joined the vineyard specifically out of faculty, getting more than as winemaker. Son Dennis later took around the revenue and promoting side of the business.

When the vine pest phylloxera hit Napa Valley in the 1990s, the relatives experienced to replant lots of of their vines. Ever the optimist, Jack saw the crisis as a chance to commence refreshing. He invested thousands on multispectral imaging, a mapping technology applied by NASA, to just take pictures of his vineyards. He also invested in dampness-examining probes to analyze the soils.

All-around the identical time, the vineyard began on the lookout to Carneros as a cooler web page for its Chardonnay, and included Pinot Noir to the lineup. It also expanded its vineyards, shopping for attributes in Anderson Valley, Carneros and Napa. The winery now owns 13 vineyards symbolizing almost 560 acres.

In addition to marketing and advertising abroad, Cakebread actively promoted Napa and its wines at household. He was president of the Napa Valley Vintners association 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 accountability of the day-to-day functions to his son Bruce, who turned president and main working officer. Jack remained CEO of the winery until 2015, guaranteeing that the vineyard and his legacy would live on perfectly immediately after he was gone.

Dolores Cakebread passed away in 2020. Jack is survived by sons Steve, Dennis and Bruce, 4 grandchildren and two fantastic-grandchildren.