Schramsberg Vineyards has been around since 1862, but it wasn’t until 1965 when Jack and Jamie Davies bought the property that Schramsberg became what we know today as America’s House of Sparkling Wines.
In 1965, after a yearlong searching for a hillside property in the Napa Valley, they discovered a run-down winery on the mountainside above St. Helena, near Calistoga. The historic Schramsberg property had been left to its own, abandoned for years.
Since the Davies bought the property they ambitioned making not only great wine, they set themselves to produce great sparkling wine, fermented in the authentic Méthode Champenoise, as expressive as any of the great Champagnes produced in France.
On February 25, 1972, 1969 Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs was served at the State dinner “Toast to Peace” hosted by President Richard Nixon for the Premier Chou En-lai in Beijing, China. This was the first time Schramsberg, or any American wine, was served at any White House or State event, at home or abroad. Since then, Schramsberg wines have been served in the White House by every presidential administration.
The Davies earned many awards throughout the years, including; “Winemakers of the Year in 1984, the 1995 International Festival of Méthode Champenoise Lifetime Achievement Award honoring “the thirty-year history of their exceptional winery and its world-class products.” In 1996 the James Beard Foundation awarded them the Wine and Spirits Professional Award for “making a significant impact in the wine and spirits industry.”
Today, their son Hugh Davies, who was born the same year the Davies arrived at Schramsberg, leads the winery’s management and winemaking team. Hugh is committed to the ongoing efforts to fine-tune winemaking and grape growing techniques, building upon the winery’s venerable track record of producing award-winning sparkling wines and to continuing the quality enhancement of Schramsberg and J. Davies wines.
Let us examine their most popular Sparkling wines:
- Blanc de Blancs
Blanc de Blancs was the first wine Schramsberg produced in 1965 and was America’s first commercially produced, Chardonnay-based brut sparkling wine. Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs gained international recognition in 1972 when then President Nixon served the wine at the historic “Toast to Peace” in Beijing, China.
While this wine can be enjoyed by itself as an apéritif, it is also perfect with fresh oysters and other shellfish, crab cakes, ceviche and grilled sea bass. Great to pair with fried dishes, for its palate cleansing characteristics. It is also delicious with lemon and citrus dishes. Serve with aged cheeses and as a counterpoint to soft triple creams. This sparkler comes with high remarks from both Wine Enthusiast and Wine Spectator. It is an excellent opening act to receive your guests to any special event. Blanc de Blancs retails for $34.00.
- Blanc de Noirs
Blanc de Noirs, made primarily from Pinot Noir, is a complex, medium-bodied, brut sparkling wine. Schramsberg pioneered the Blanc de Noirs style in the United States, releasing the first such American sparkler in 1967. The key to producing this complex Blanc de Noirs is their fruit, Pinot Noir from Carneros and Anderson Valley combine with fruit from low-yielding Sonoma and Marin coastal vineyards are used to develop a sparkling wine with a breadth of fruitful aroma and flavor. Select Chardonnay lots give zest and backbone to the blend.
Pair this Sparkling wine with soft and nutty cheeses, macadamia nut-crusted halibut, and pork tenderloin with fresh rosemary and lemon thyme. This sparkler comes with high remarks from Wine Enthusiast. It retails for around $38.00.
Will examine few more of Schramsberg sparkling wines for the New Year’s in the second part of this review. Click here to subscribe to this page, so you do not miss any articles.