In 1972, while shooting photographs for Nathan Chroman’s “Treasury of American Wines”, Jack and Dolores Cakebread casually offer to buy the Sturdivant Ranch in Rutherford. The Sturdivant’s take them up on the offer, and soon the first Cakebread Sauvignon Blanc is planted on AXR1 rootstock.
The initial winery is built pondside after two years of evening and weekend work, and Cakebread Cellars releases its first wine- a 1973 Chardonnay (157 cases total). With nowhere of their own to crush, they crushed some Cabernet Sauvignon up at Keenan Winery, also helping them to keep their winery permit active. The original winery is enlarged in 1977, and Mondavi enologist, Larry Wara is brought on as wine consultant.
Bruce Cakebread joins the family business full-time as a winemaker after graduating from UC Davis in 1979. Also, 5 fermenters are installed outside the front barn with refrigeration being hooked up the night before the grapes arrived. A new winery building, designed by architect William Turnbull, is added, winning awards from the California Architects Association in 1981.
In 1982, Jack Cakebread purchases an adjacent 12 acre ranch and plants Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. The winery begins using state-of-the-art neutron probe technology to maximize vineyard efficiency. Cakebread Cellars begins marketing internationally in the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore in the mid 1980s.
They started remodeling the 100-year-old winery home and created a state-of-the-art kitchen and comfortable accommodations for guests and entertaining.
Over the years, the Cakebread emerge from various difficulties such as vines dying from phylloxera. They've also built their library and started producing wines from more varietals - Merlot, Pinot Noir, Rubaiyat, etc. Expansion of their winery has also began as they start purchasing adjacent wineries and vineyards.
In 2008, Cakebread Cellars becomes the second winery to achieve Napa Green certification and still holds this certification today. In 2018, Cakebread Cellars receives the California Green Medal Award for its commitment to sustainability. The winery’s organic garden also achieved Bee Friendly certification. The Suscol Mountain Vineyard was certified fish-friendly in 2018; all of the Cakebread owned vineyards are now certified fish-friendly.
Cakebread Cellars continue to place sustainability as priority as they expand their business and produce wines from more grape varietals.