Exploring Napa Wines: an Afternoon at Cakebread Cellars

We had the pleasure of visiting Cakebread Cellars and tasting Napa wines this past month and it was nothing short of amazing. With its majestic trees dotting the property, the vineyard seems to stand still in time. Dolores and Jack Cakebread acquired this vast gorgeous property back in the 1970’s and it has expanded and grown since. The vineyard is simply stunning, done in warm wood tones and clean geometrical structures.

Entrance to Cakebread Cellars
Entrance to Cakebread Cellars

Ancient Roman History

Cement egg fermentation vats at Cakebread Cellars - Napa wines
Cement egg fermentation vats at Cakebread Cellars

When I first walked through the fermentation cellar I was intrigued by these cement egg-shaped things. Our guide explained that these fermentation vats were inspired by ancient Roman wine vats which were made from terracotta. The cement helps regulate the temperature and aerate the wine during this process. It was definitely a very unique experience seeing and learning about these cement fermentation containers.

Clean & Green

Cakebread makes no exception when it comes to keeping a green and sustainable process. Our guide explained how Cakebread Cellars emphasizes heavily on recycling winery waste and limiting impact on the local ecosystem. One example our guide mentioned was the ‘green parking lot.’ The lot has penetrable pavers that let the excess rain water filter through a gravel bed. This helps replenish the underwater ground water and prevents any wasted run-off.

Beauty in Every Corner

Whichever way you turn, Cakebread Cellars’ property boasts beautiful views, beautiful architecture, or gorgeous water features like a spouting lily pond. The long archways that canopy the vineyard not only shade the path but provide a beautiful warm aesthetic to the vineyard. There is an abundance of greenery along each footpath. One footpath had a line of citrus plants growing alongside.  

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Architecture at Cakebread Cellars
Architecture at Cakebread Cellars

The Chardonnay Grapes 

I love wine but I might love tasting the wine grapes just as much. Our guide was gracious enough to pick us some Chardonnay grapes from the vine and let us taste them. Those grapes were more flavorful than any other grape I’ve ever had in my life. I mean, it makes sense: to get the best wine you do need the best grapes. Now if they could only sell these Chardonnay grapes at the grocery store.  

Drink Up: Tasting Napa Wines

We attended a classic wine tasting that included a tour of the grounds and property. We were treated to a variety of wines, with an even mix of white and red wines. Our guide provided us with so much history of the property, the Cakebreads themselves, and of course the wine!  

Napa wines - Cakebread Sauvignon Blanc
Cakebread Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc 

The moment we entered the property we were greeted by the kind and friendly staff along with a crisp, fresh glass of their 2021 vintage of Sauvignon Blanc. It was light and clean and just what we needed after a long hot drive from Petaluma. As a white wine lover, I truly enjoyed this wine. Hints of fresh grass notes, bright citrus and a refreshing zesty zing lingered in my palette as a I polished this glass off.  

Chardonnay 

As I finished off my refreshing glass of Sauvignon Blanc, we entered the main tasting room. The room was finished in oak and gave the feel of a farmhouse barn. Our wine guide welcomed us in and poured us a glass of Chardonnay.  She explained that Cakebread Cellars Chardonnay was the first wine that they released and that after many years of fine tuning that was the wine we were drinking. Notes of green apple, lemon, and light oak instantly kicked in as I took my first sip. It is such a smooth, clean white and I loved that we started our tour with it.  

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Napa wines - Cakebread Cellars Two Creeks Pinot Noir
Cakebread Cellars Two Creeks Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir, Two Creeks 

I’m a slow wine drinker so I continued to sip on my Chardonnay as we walked through a cool hallway that led to the cement egg room. I was truly fascinated by these fermentation vessels! Before I could snap another picture of the eggs, our guide was already pouring our third glass. This Two Creeks Pinot Noir was well balanced and was reminiscent of baking spices and dark fruit. Our guide said some people said they were reminded of s’mores, I however did not get s’mores on the nose, even though I wish I did.   

Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 

Our last wine was this classic Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. This elegant, balanced wine reminded me of dark fruit like purple skinned plums or roasted cherries. It was a deep wine that had a lot of tannins and flavors. I can definitely see this wine pairing well with a hearty dinner with mushrooms.  

Secret Garden 

After sipping on wine and leisurely strolling along the property, we happened across the secret garden in the back of the Cakebread Cellar property. Our guide graciously escorted us to the gardens and pointed out the vegetables and fruits that were currently growing. She explained that Dolores Cakebread always loved to garden, and it was this love for gardening that led to having a garden right on the property.  

Our guide pointed to an artichoke plant in the middle of a sunny patch. The artichoke was clearly enjoying and basking in all that vitamin D! I was astonished to see how artichokes grew, they almost looked like a cactus of some sort while on the plant.  

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As we meandered through the garden, I spied with my little eye a few squash blossoms growing through the shade. I told our guide how I loved cooking with the blossoms. Stuffing the blossoms with a little ricotta and mint creates the most delicious little fritter. 

Squash and artichoke
Squash and artichoke

As we strolled along the garden, we came across the tomato vines that were trellising on the wire. Our guide explained that the tomatoes weren’t just ripe yet but in a few weeks they would be. She explained that Cakebread was hosting a tomato wine and food pairing event in a few weeks and the tomatoes would be ripe and juicy by then. As she said that I secretly wished that we were staying another week in California just to attend the tomato event.  

As we finished our tour of the Cakebread Cellar garden we came across the strawberry patch. As a true berry lover I gasped a little, hoping to see a strawberry. “Strawberry season is on it’s last leg,” our guide said. But she went ahead to forage for a lone, hidden strawberry to share with us. Hiding behind the green leaves was a little rosy strawberry. Our guide picked it off gently and gave it to us to try. It was such a sweet and flavorful little strawberry.

Early tomato, late strawberry
Early tomato, late strawberry

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