50 Years of Sparkling History: Schramsberg Vineyards
ST. HELENA, CA (March 30, 2015) — Schramsberg Vineyards, America’s first craft sparkling wine house, celebrates its 50th anniversary throughout 2015.
“To look at how far we’ve come since 1965, from those first 200 cases of Blanc de Blancs to where we are now, it’s overwhelming in a great way,” states Hugh Davies, second-generation vintner of Schramsberg Vineyards. “But I have to remember that it didn’t happen overnight. It has taken years of dedication to my parent’s vision and commitment from multiple generations of families, friends and employees to get us to this point. It is a privilege to be able to take this year and celebrate the love and passion of those that have made Schramsberg what it is today.”
In 1965, Jack and Jamie Davies revived the Schramsberg winery on the property originally founded in 1862 by German immigrants Jacob and Annie Schram. Their vision was to create the first American sparkling wine from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes — utilizing secondary bottle fermentation just as is done in Champagne. At a time when there were only 22 wineries in Napa Valley and fewer than 500 acres of California vineyards planted to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir combined, Jack and Jamie set out to make sparkling wine in the true méthode traditionelle style. Theirs was the first American winery to produce a Blanc de Blancs in 1965, followed by a Blanc de Noirs in 1967. Now, 50 years later, their son Hugh Davies, who was born the same year the Davies arrived at Schramsberg, leads the winery’s management and winemaking team with the same resolute vision as did Jack and Jamie.
The Schramsberg winery property is tucked into the densely forested slopes of Diamond Mountain, a few miles south of the town of Calistoga, and home to the oldest hillside vineyards in Napa Valley. It totals 218 acres with 43 acres planted to vines. While initially the winery worked with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir vines on the home property and in the upper Napa Valley to produce its sparkling wines, Schramsberg has expanded and improved its vineyard range to include more than 100 cool-climate sites throughout Carneros, Anderson Valley, and along the Sonoma and Marin coasts. Starting in 1990, the winery began replanting Cabernet Sauvignon on the home property. These grapes would eventually provide Diamond Mountain District fruit for the family’s J. Davies Estate Cabernet.
The original 1889 J. Schram Victorian house has been lovingly restored by the Davies family, and Hugh, wife Monique, and their three sons reside there today. The lower winery, barn and caves remain largely unchanged since the 19th century. Originally, starting in the 1870s, more than 10,000 square feet of caves were hand-dug into volcanic rock by Chinese laborers. Additional cave tunnels have been added over the past 50 years, providing 34,000 square feet of ideal underground storage for the aging of Schramsberg’s sparkling wine bottles.
In 1972, Schramsberg played its first role in world history, when its Blanc de Blancs was served at President Nixon’s “Toast to Peace” with China’s Premier Zhou Enlai. This was the first-time a California wine had been served by a U.S. president on the world stage. The media coverage for this historic moment not only highlighted the Schramsberg brand, but was an initial catalyst for the attention that would follow for wines made in Napa Valley and California. Schramsberg’s sparkling wines have been served at official state functions by every U.S. presidential administration since.
Today, Hugh, with his family and the veteran winery staff, successfully build upon what was started 50 years ago. By incorporating tradition, innovation, and sustainability in all of its practices, Schramsberg Vineyards is as committed as ever to pressing the envelope of quality in crafting world-class sparkling wines.
To learn more visit — http://www.wilsondaniels.com/our-portfolio/schramsberg-vineyards/
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