There are several names that ring out when you think about the first families of Napa. Among them all, Cakebread is a constant.
Almost fifty years ago, Jack and Dolores Cakebread set up shop on their Oakville property, commuting from their Oakland home, to build the winery and create what is now known as Cakebread Cellars.
A true grassroots operation, with Jack delivering orders out of their Oakland auto repair shop, and the couple putting not only their three sons to work, but any other family and friends they could bring along on weekends.
The group would work hard, building the winery, and planting, pruning, and picking in the vineyards. But always, at the end of the day, they would sit down to a celebration of wine and food, creating what we now know as Napa Valley hospitality.
A Grande Dame of the Les Dames d’Escoffier and past president of the San Francisco chapter, Dolores was the queen of hospitality. Her gracious style, welcoming atmosphere, and lavish spreads filled with garden-inspired flavors became a staple of the Cakebread persona, with Napa neighbors and those well beyond, taking tips from her wine country hospitality and lifestyle as they began entertaining guests.
I attended one of Cakebread’s “American Harvest Workshops” a few years ago (a link to my D Magazine story is here). The event was started by Dolores and Jack as a true culmination of bringing food and wine together as a part of a healthy lifestyle.
The multi-day event showcases the culinary with the hospitality, the farming, fishing, and foraging, and of course, the wine, that Napa is so known for now. 40 years ago this was unheard of.
We have Dolores Cakebread to thank for inspiring much of this wonderful wine country lifestyle.
Dolores passed away on October 2 peacefully, just after celebrating her 90th birthday and 70th wedding anniversary.
We toasted her last evening with a bottle of Cakebread Chardonnay, ($40) though Sauvignon Blanc was her white wine of choice. The Chardonnay was the first white the winery created and is always a favorite of mine. Filled with crisp green apple, melon, and pear, with crisp citrusy layers of lemon and lime, crushed stone minerality, and bright acidity. The perfect wine for seafood pairings, or even enjoying with creamy cheese. #cheers and rest in peace Dolores Cakebread, and thank you.