In 1965, Jack and Jamie Davies began reviving Schramsberg Vineyards and the estate’s dormant winery. They challenged conventional ideas and relied on innovation to create what are arguably the finest sparkling wines in California. Today, the Davies produce nine sparkling wine cuvées, three of them reserve wines. Remarkably, for 45 years the Davies have scarcely disturbed the surrounding woodland estate, and have kept most of their original crew while growing production to an estimated 60,000 cases.
In the last decade, the youngest of the Davies’ three sons, Hugh, has skillfully elaborated upon this legacy. In recent years, Schramsberg’s sparkling wines have garnered top wine media honors and their highest ever consumer demand. They will remain a strong parallel focus as the small production J. Davies vineyards and wines develop.
Ten Years of Research and Experimentation
Hugh Davies has crafted a Cabernet Sauvignon that expresses the historic Diamond Mountain vineyards he explored from early childhood. Named in honor of his father Jack L. Davies, this wine is a culmination of 45 years of intimate knowledge of a place and a passion to create a delicious red wine after more than three decades of creating world-renowned sparkling wines.
The first Bordeaux varietals were planted on the Davies family estate in 1994. Vineyard layout, rootstock, clonal and grape variety selections were revised over time, with a particular emphasis on refining the tight structure and tannic nature characteristic of Diamond Mountain fruit. The continuing success of J. Davies’ sister winery Schramsberg afforded the winery 10 years time to perfect its first wine from Bordeaux varietals: The first J. Davies Cabernet Sauvignon (2001) was released in 2004. Hugh and his viticultural and winemaking team have combined experience with this land that totals six decades.
A Place Like No Other: The Vineyards
Initially, the Davies planted their estate vineyards to the traditional, méthode champenoise grape varieties. Over time, it became apparent that this land was better suited to the cultivation of red Bordeaux varietals, while the depth and character the Davies sought in sparkling wines called for sourcing from a palette of cool-climate vineyards in Carneros, Anderson Valley and the Sonoma and Marin coastal areas.
The first vines on what is now the J. Davies Schram Vineyard were planted in 1862 by Jacob Schram and, at the time, comprised Napa Valley’s first hillside vineyard. This, and the J. Davies’ McEachran Vineyard (first planted in 1878), total 43 acres and are now the southernmost vineyards in the Diamond Mountain District AVA. Flanked by two cool creek canyons — Nash Creek to the north and Ritchie Creek to the south — and surrounded by dense coniferous and deciduous forests, the vines here produce late-ripening, richly concentrated fruit with average yields of just two tons per acre.