At Cakebread Cellars itself, we found a gorgeous, friendly, small-scale winery that's also a strong family business. Two of the three Cakebread sons got into the wine business (the third went off to be CFO at Pandora). Father Cakebread is a photography nut who shot alongside Ansel Adams and now exhibits his own images on property. The Cakebread "American Harvest Cookbook" even placed as a finalist in the IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals) awards.
Cakebread's a fun little place, and informal (Nike and In & Out have hosted events here, sometimes taking over the BBQ pit, and they've worked with Gilt Taste), but they are serious when it comes to their wines. In earlier years, if you wanted to have a taste of Cakebread's fruits of their labor, they'd put you to work for the day and make you earn it. Luckily for us, that's all changed now.
Next year, 2013, will be Cakebread's 40th Anniversary so we'd recommend waiting for the inevitable special releases.
Tasting details: Upon arrival and checking in, tour guests are handed a starter pour of the Sauvignon Blanc. Just a little something to get your mouth watering while other guests arrive. Following the tour of the production rooms, yard, barrel room and event spaces, you'll be seated in a tasting room to sample and discuss six of their wines: the Sauvignon Blanc first tasted, Chardonnay (Napa), Chardonnay (Carneros), Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Pricing: Call (800) 588-0298 a couple days prior to book a place in one of their tours or tasting events. We did a weekday 10:15am "Group Tasting of Current Release Wines" for $25 per person. Purchase of individual bottles (of the ones tasted) ranges from $24 to $60.
Our wine pick: The 2012 Chardonnay Reserve "Carneros," which was described as the "limo of Chardonnays." We tasted some walnut and vanilla, with a touch of pineapple fruit. It's best paired with seafood or Thai food. Here you can buy a bottle for $55, whereas it can list for up to $280/bottle on restaurant wine lists far from Napa.
We attended Flavor! Napa Valley as a guest of Napa Valley Tourism, but headed to the wineries ourselves, so rest assured all photos, opinions, and inebriation is completely our own.
[Photos: Cynthia Drescher/Jaunted]