Jack and Dolores Cakebread started Cakebread Cellars in Rutherford, Calif., 50 years ago with 157 cases of chardonnay. The couple had purchased land in 1972; while they waited for their vineyard to get established, they made a little 1973 chardonnay and released it the following year. Bottlings of cabernet sauvignon and zinfandel followed over the next few years.
Since then, the winery and visitor facilities have been greatly expanded, and the family has acquired a number of vineyards, mostly in Napa Valley but also in Anderson Valley. But I will always have fond memories of visiting the then-small tasting room along Highway 29 in the mid-1980s.
To mark the winery’s 50th anniversary, I’m recommending the 2021 Napa Valley Chardonnay, which is fresh and lemony, with good concentration and a stony note. The wine is rich without being heavy, in part because of its stiff spine of acidity, making it a good companion for seafood and creamy sauces. It sells for $40.