In 1965, Jack and Jamie Davies established Schramsberg as a sparkling wine estate on the property originally founded in 1862 by German immigrant Jacob Schram. At a time when there were only 22 bonded wineries in Napa Valley and fewer than 100 acres of California vineyards planted to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, they set out to make world-class sparkling wine in the true méthode champenoise style. Theirs was the first California winery to provide a Blanc de Blancs in 1965 followed by a Blanc de Noirs in 1967. Now their son Hugh Davies, who was born the same year the Davies arrived at Schramsberg, leads the winery’s management and winemaking team.
The Schramsberg estate is tucked into Napa Valley’s famed Diamond Mountain, a few miles south of the town of Calistoga. Tall trees and lush vegetation surround this registered historic landmark, painstakingly restored by the Davies family. A Victorian house built by Jacob Schram in 1875, the winery, an old barn, and historic caves hand-dug by Chinese laborers in the 1880s remain virtually unchanged since Schram’s days. The Schramsberg estate totals 220 acres with 43 acres planted to vines.
Focused on Quality
Producing just 60,000 cases annually, Schramsberg Vineyards is focused on the finest and most complex handcrafted sparkling wines in California. Schramsberg’s premium wines are crafted in very limited quantities: an average of 2,000 cases of J. Schram and 1,500 cases of Schramsberg Reserve are made each year. Rivaling the best of Champagne, Schramsberg wines are clear favorites amongst wine professionals in blind tastings conducted annually.
Schramsberg Vineyards blends Pinot Noir and Chardonnay harvested from a broad array of cool-climate vineyard sources, including Napa-Carneros, Sonoma-Carneros, Mendocino County and the Sonoma and Marin coastal areas. The winemakers draw from 120 vineyard blocks covering 371 acres to create 220 base wines each year. These wines are then used to create Schramsberg’s nine distinctive sparkling wines.
Most of Schramsberg’s viticultural and winemaking practices are carried out by hand: grapes are hand harvested, the wines are handcrafted, the bottles are stacked and riddled in underground caves. The J. Schram, Schramsberg’s top offering, is even hand labeled.
As many as 2.7 million bottles are aged for two to seven years in Schramsberg’s hillside caves. These historic caves were dug into volcanic rock in the 1880s by Chinese laborers and currently cover 34,000 square feet. They maintain a consistent temperature and humidity, an environment that is paramount in the flavor development of sparkling wines.
Unique among California sparkling wine houses, Schramsberg ferments 25 percent of its juice in oak barrels to produce rich, flavorful, complex wines. In its top two sparkling wines, the J. Schram and Schramsberg Reserve, 40 percent of the components are barrel fermented.
Schramsberg Vineyards has an innovative reserve wine barrel-aging program, aging small lots of wine for up to six years. Limited quantities of these aged wines are then incorporated to give depth and complexity to the finished product. The Mirabelle Brut and Mirabelle Brut Rosé, multi-vintage sparklers, contain 20 percent of these exquisite wines.
Schramsberg uses the méthode champenoise technique to create its nine distinctive sparkling wines: the signature-vintage Reserve, J. Schram and J. Schram Rosé; the premier-vintage Blanc de Blancs, Blanc de Noirs, Brut Rosé and Crémant; and the multi-vintage Mirabelle and Mirabelle Rosé. Since the 2001 vintage, the winery also produces the J. Davies Cabernet Sauvignon, made exclusively from grapes grown in the Schramsberg estate vineyards on Diamond Mountain.