December 03, 2019

Cakebread Cellars Opens Opulent Napa Valley Visitors Center

Consider it one of the best wine-tasting deals in Napa Valley. For just $25 – less than a small bucket of fried chicken from Thomas Keller’s Addendum – Cakebread Cellars offers a guided tour and tasting of four to five current-release wines.

That fee is especially appealing considering the fresh surroundings and overall quality of wine, with grapes sourced primarily around Napa that showcase juicy and balanced flavors. In November, Cakebread opened its new visitors center, a project that required about three years of construction and 15 years of planning. The visitors center adds 36,000 square feet of space to the Rutherford winery. Its rustic-luxe interior also houses a number of intimate tasting rooms.

The hour-long tasting starts at a check-in stand, where guests are handed a pour of Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc. It’s a refreshing way to prime the palate, given its tangy citrus flavors and juicy nose. It would pair well with that crispy and rich Addendum fried chicken down Highway 29 in Yountville.

With glass in hand, guests can stroll around the main lobby or relax on couches or chairs. Reclaimed wood is everywhere, including wine barrel staves that are used for hanging light fixtures. The exterior of the building, designed by BCV Architecture and Interiors, also features reclaimed staves. The overall feeling is something like “1,000 ways to reuse a wine barrel.”

The vibe is much more opulent compared to the humble barn-like facility that once served as the heart of Cakebread’s production. Cakebread was founded in the early 1970s by Dolores and Jack Cakebread, who previously ran a car repair shop in Oakland. It has since grown into a signature Napa brand with 200,000 annual case production. The winery oversees 11 dozen estate vineyards, including sites in Mendocino County and the Carneros region of Napa, with an emphasis on Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

This history is relayed as the tour gets underway with a pour of Chardonnay Reserve, whose combination of vanilla and citrus flavors taste a bit like lemon-vanilla swirl ice cream. Instead of parking at a tasting bar, small groups are led around the facility with a guide who’s equipped with a wine tote bag.

Excerpt taken from: The San Francisco Chronicle: The Press
By Chris Macias

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Photo: Alexander Rubin
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