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At Cakebread Cellars, we embrace environmental responsibility with green practices that range from sustainable and organic farming and diligent water/energy conservation to extensive recycling operations (nearly 90% of winery-generated waste). We are proud to have been an early industry leader in these efforts. In fact, Cakebread Cellars was only the second California winery to achieve Napa Green certification; we’re also certified as Fish Friendly and participate in the Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing program.
Jack and Dolores Cakebread met in high school in Oakland, California and were married in 1950. After Jack completed his military service during the Korean War, the couple settled in Oakland with their three sons, Steve, Dennis, and Bruce. Jack Cakebread, who had worked on his family's orchard in Contra Costa County, worked with his father at Cakebread's Garage in Oakland. He also developed an interest in photography. In 1972, while taking photographs for Nathan Chroman's book Treasury of American Wines, Jack and Dolores Cakebread offered to purchase the Sturdivant Ranch in Rutherford, California. The Sturdivant family accepted their offer, and soon the Cakebreads were attending winemaking classes at the University of California, Davis, where they learned from local vintners Louis M. Martini and Robert Mondavi. Within a year the Cakebreads planted their first Sauvignon Blanc on AxR1 rootstock. During the first few years, Jack and Dolores divided their time between the garage and establishing the winery on the weekends. In 1974, the original winery was completed and Cakebread Cellars produced its first wine: 157 cases of 1973 Chardonnay. The following year, they crushed their first Cabernet Sauvignon grapes at Keenan Winery. In 1976, they released the first Cakebread Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon ('74 vintage), and their first vintage of Zinfandel, produced at Las Domingus Ranch on Howell Mountain. The original winery was enlarged in 1977, and Mondavi enologist Larry Wara was hired as a wine consultant. The following year, Cakebread produced three Cabernets for '78 vintage: JTL1, Napa Valley, and Lot 2. In 1979, Bruce Cakebread joined the family business as a full-time winemaker after graduating from the University of California, Davis. That year, five fermenters were installed outside the front barn.
The 1980s saw significant growth at Cakebread Cellars. In 1980, a new winery building was constructed. Designed by architect William Turnbull, Jr., the building's design won awards from the California Architects Association in 1981, the East Bay Architects Association in 1982, and the AIA & Wood Council in 1983. Cakebread also produced its first Rutherford Reserve vintage in 1980. The following year, the winery's first employee Tod Dexter was hired; he would stay with Cakebread for eight years, and then go on to start his own wine label, Dexter Winery, in Morington Penn near Melbourne. In 1982, Jack Cakebread acquired an adjacent 12-acre ranch and planted Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. After introducing state-of-the-art neutron probe technology to maximize vineyard production, Cakebread Cellars began marketing internationally in the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore in 1984. In 1985, the Cakebread's remodeled their 100-year-old winery home with a state-of-the-art kitchen and comfortable guest accommodations. That year, Jim May became Cakebread's first resident chef. In 1986, Dennis Cakebread joined the family business, managing finance, sales, and marketing. In the fall of 1986, Cakebread hosted its first American Harvest Workshop to showcase prominent chefs and artisan food purveyors from around the country. The following year, the American Harvest Workshop became an annual fall event.
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