"...the stirring sunlight,
and the growing vines, and the vats and bottles in the cavern, made a pleasant
music for the mind. Here also, earth's cream was being skimmed and garnered; and
the ...customers can taste...the tang of the earth in this green valley."
The time was 1880, and the words were Robert Louis Stevenson's, commenting upon his visits with Jacob Schram and his first impressions of the pioneer winemaker's Schramsberg Vineyards.
Coming to New York from the Rhineland in 1842, fourteen year old Shcram was a classic young pioneer. Working his way to San Francisco and ultimately to the Napa Valley, he established Schramsberg as the first winery on the hillsides of the Napa Valley. With the help of Chinese laborers, the vineyards replaced the scrub oak on the high slopes, and a network of cool, underground cellars was tunneled into the soft, volcanic rock.
Schram's dedication to quality and the vineyard's combination of soil and sun, resulted in wines that were acclaimed from San Francisco to Europe. honoring those accomplishments, the State of California named the estate and Historical Landmark in 1957.
In 1965, new pioneering began. Jamie and Jack Davies acquired Schramsberg and began with a single goal -- to create distinctive methode champenoise wines. Their philosophy for winemaking was to draw on the best of the past, building on a foundation of experience to constantly improve the quality of their wines.
When Jack left his successful industrial career in 1965, he put the work of commodities behind him. Jamie and he turned their attention to creating a product with individuality: a world class California sparkling wine.
Davies parlayed his 25 year business experience -- ranging from packaging to aerospace
technology -- and his marketing and production sense into the creation of unique
sparkling wines -- wines which today are enjoyed worldwide by wine critics and
statesman alike. Jamie Davies traded in her successful career as co-owner of the
Hansen-Peterman art gallery in San Francisco to apply her knowledge of design
to the start-up winery.
Jamie and Jack worked on Sharamsberg with spirit. Replanting scarce grapes. Making the first cuvees. Aging the wine. Telling the world about their dreams and ideas. They wanted their wines to be delicate and yet have great individuality and style. They particularly sought to make wines that would complement a dining as well as being served for special occasions.
For over thirty years the results have been spectacular: a renaissance in California premium sparking wine making, bringing 7 of the Grand Marque producers of Champagne and the 2 leading houses of Spain to Northern California.
Jamie and Jack's honors have been many, including Cooks Magazine's award to Jack as "Who's Who in America Cuisine". In 1984 they received the "Winemakers of the Year" award by friends of the Junior Arts Center in Los Angeles, and the "Junipero Serra Award for Excellence" by the California Museum of Science and Industry. In 1994 The International Festival of Methode Champenoise presented a "Lifetimne Achievement Award" honoring "the thirty year history of their exceptional winery and its world-class products". Most recently they received the 1996 James Beard Foundation's "Wine and Spirits Professional Award" for making a significant impact in the wine sprits industry.
In Schramsberg's 25 Anniversary year, the noted wine author and critic, Nathan Chroman, looked back and described it this way: "Some producers will earn a paragraph in the history of sparkling wines on California. The coming of the French will need a page. But it will merit a chapter to spell out what Jack and Jamie have done here."
Schramsberg Vineyard and Cellars / 1400 Schramsberg Road / Calistoga, CA 94515