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History

The first planting on what is now the J. Davies Estate Vineyard was in 1862 by Jacob Schram, representing the Napa Valley’s first hillside vineyard. This and the J. Davies Estate McEachran Vineyard are the southern most 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, these vines produce late-ripening, richly-concentrated fruit.

Initially, the Davies planted their estate vineyards to the traditional Method Champenoise grape varieties in 1965. But over time it became apparent that this land was better suited to the cultivation of red Bordeaux varietals.

Today, expanding from the knowledge gained through the production of the J. Davies Estate Cabernet Sauvignon from Diamond Mountain, our collection of Cabernet Sauvignon is an exploration of new Napa Valley vineyard sites. Each vineyard site provides the winemaking team unique flavor characteristics from the varietal, allowing them the opportunity to produce a wine that is strikingly different than the J. Davies Estate wine while still delicious and singular to the vineyard or appellation from which it came.

Developing upon this passion, history and experience, second-generation vintner Hugh Davies and winemaker Sean Thompson also craft vineyard and appellation designated Pinot Noirs. The family’s experience with Pinot Noir dates back to 1967, when Jack and Jamie Davies first used this elegant red varietal to make their inaugural vintage of Blanc de Noirs sparkling wine. Over the 45 years following its first use, Schramsberg’s winemakers have built long-lasting relationships with some of the North Coast’s best Pinot Noir growers.

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.

 

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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.

The slopes making up the Schramsberg Vineyards property were the site of the first hillside vineyards within Napa Valley. Originally planted by Jacob Schram in the mid-late 1800s, the vineyards were abandoned when the property was sold in 1912. In 1965, when Schramsberg was revived by the Davies family, they planted the estate vineyards to the classic “méthode traditionelle” grape varieties, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Over time, as better cool-climate sites became available for sparkling wine production, it became apparent that the Schramsberg land was better suited to the cultivation of Cabernet Sauvignon and other red Bordeaux varietals.

Map of the 2018 harvest vineyard sources for Schramsberg Vineyard, showing locations of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir vineyards, from four Northern California counties.

In 1994, the careful replanting of the Schramsberg/J. Davies Estate vineyards began. The vineyards now total 41 acres and are laid out in three distinct pockets that range from approximately 500 to 1,000 feet in elevation. These include the original two Jacob Schram vineyard sections and the adjacent McEachran parcel, which was first planted by Colin McEachran in 1878. These vineyards are the southernmost in the Diamond Mountain District AVA and are flanked by two cool creek canyons (Nash Creek to the north and Ritchie Creek to the south). The vineyards are surrounded by dense coniferous and deciduous forests, and the vines produce late-ripening, richly concentrated fruit with average yields of just two tons per acre.

DAVIES VINEYARD SITES

In 2009, the Davies started producing their first non-estate red wines under the Davies Vineyards brand. These first bottlings were harvested from Pinot Noir sites that were sought out for their uniqueness and reputation for first-class grapes.

The family’s experience with Pinot Noir dates back to 1967, when Jack and Jamie Davies first used this elegant red varietal to make their inaugural vintage of Blanc de Noirs sparkling wine. Over the decades following that first use, Schramsberg’s winemakers have built long-lasting relationships with some of the best Pinot Noir growers in the North Coast. It is from these relationships that we are able to source grapes for our single vineyard and appellation designated Pinot Noirs. Today, Davies Vineyards produces a selection of Pinot Noir wines, including vineyard designated bottlings from Ferrington Vineyards, Londer Vineyard, Nobles Vineyard and Hyde Vineyards.

With the popularity of the Pinot Noir project growing, in 2012 the winemaking team broadened their scope once again. They searched out new Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon sites for the production of additional still wines. Outstanding sites were found, and new vineyard designated Cabernet Sauvignons were added to the Davies Vineyards line. Each vineyard site provides the winemaking team unique flavor characteristics from the varietal, allowing them the opportunity to produce a wine that is strikingly different than the J. Davies Estate wine, while still delicious and singular to the vineyard from which it came. With the 2012 vintage, the family produced their first Davies Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignons, highlighting Napa Valley vineyards throughout the diverse Napa County. Since this new program began, Davies Vineyards has produced delicious single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignons from Winfield Vineyards, Red Cap Vineyard and Round Pond Vineyards.

When Jack and Jamie Davies purchased the property that once belonged to Jacob Schram they had a choice. In fact, they had a lot of choices. They could tear down the old house and build something modern, they could clear more of the trees to make room for additional vineyards, or they could fashion a state-of-the-art winery facility.

From the beginning Jack and Jamie chose to preserve what was already there. They retained the name of Schramsberg Vineyards to honor its founder. They restored the ancient homestead and raised their family in the house that Schram built. They kept the original barn and made their wine in the crumbling old cellar, utilizing the underground caves that were dug in the late 1800s for bottle aging. Of the nearly 200 acres, they retained 155 of forested land, using only 43 acres for vineyards. Eventually, a newer winery was built to supplement the old one, and great care was taken to utilize the original cellars and honor the charm of its historical design. At Schramsberg, preservation has always been an integral part of the plan. In 1957, Schramsberg was named a California state historical landmark and in 1998 was added to the National Register of Historical Places.

Schramsberg has also been recognized and awarded for the efforts taken to preserve the house and other historical buildings on the property.

In 1967 Jack Davies served as chairman of a citizen committee formed to support the creation of the Napa Valley Agricultural Preserve. His tireless efforts to support agricultural land preservation helped shape the heart of Napa’s wine industry. To carry on his legacy, the Davies family established the Jack L. Davies Fund in order to advance his work. The fund underwrites research and education towards the preservation and sustainability of agricultural lands for years to come. To support this effort, Schramsberg Querencia Rosé was created, with a portion of the proceeds from its sales benefiting the JLD Fund.

Today, Hugh Davies and the current Schramsberg team continue the tradition adopted by Jack & Jamie, taking it a step further with a solid set of practices and policies that ensures conservation and stewardship of the land. Currently, Schramsberg follows a rigorous schedule of environmentally friendly practices, including:

  • Installation of a 466,806 kilowatt-hours solar array, consisting of 1,655 panels that cover 3/4 of an acre of land, and producing enough energy to eliminate the emission of 466,806 pounds of CO2 annually, offsetting the amount of CO2 absorbed by 700 acres of trees or produced by powering 2,981 100-watt incandescent light bulbs. See our current solar monitor statistics
  • Napa Green Certified Land, J. Davies Estate Vineyards
  • Fish Friendly Farming
  • Vineyards owned and under contract include nine that are full organic operations, three are biodynamic, seven are Fish Friendly Farming certified, four are California Sustainable Alliance certified, and six are Sonoma Sustainable certified.
  • Since 2005, Juster Vineyard in Anderson Valley is operating under full organic operations
  • Voluntary adoption of no-till farming practices since 1993
  • Strict adherence to Napa Co. hillside ordinances
  • Incorporation of Sustainable Ag and Integrated Pest Management
    techniques
  • Utilization of only organic or naturally derived fertilizers
  • Composted grape material is used as fertilizer to increase water efficiency and help build soil structure
  • Maximum efficiency of water applications and utilization of techniques to minimize water waste
  • Commitment to the preservation of the 155 acres of forest surrounding the Diamond Mountain Estate
  • The Schramsberg team was on the initial advisory board/panel to implement the Napa Green Winery Certification Program
  • We have eliminated the use of bleach and related chlorine compounds throughout the winery
  • In early 1980, we established a strict recycling program concerning glass, metals, plastic, cardboard, paper, wooden pallets and other material generated throughout the production process
  • To conserve energy, we have incorporated efficient lighting in all winery work spaces and store a majority of our wine in underground caves instead of temperature controlled warehouse buildings.
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Winemaking

The winemaking team of Davies Vineyards strives to find the depth and character in every wine they craft, producing an unmatched level of quality and style in each bottling. Following the vision of Jamie Davies, who spirited the first bottling of the first J. Davies Estate Cabernet Sauvignon in 2001, each year Davies Vineyards set out to craft wines that are supple enough to be enjoyed upon release, while being robust and structured enough to age gracefully over time. With the ultimate intent being to allow each vineyard to express its individual natural character, the site selections and picking decisions are based on the taste and structure of the fruit on the vine.

Utilizing over 10 different vineyard sites across four of California’s appellations, each year brings new opportunities to craft delicious wines while adapting to the annual changes the environment delivers to the winemakers. With ever advancing technological improvements, and a constant curiosity to find better techniques in the winery, the team is able to fold the new knowledge into a timeless practice of crafting consistent and  layered red wines. Going back to that first harvest in 2001, Davies Vineyards has never strayed from the founding principals that were instilled by Jamie, and continue to develop delicious wines that show an intimate knowledge of a place.

 

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Inside information

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.

 

Hugh Davies, President and CEO

Hugh Davies was born in 1965, the year his parents, Jack and Jamie Davies, revived the historic Schramsberg Vineyards property in Napa Valley. Forty years later, Hugh was named president and CEO of the then 40-year-old sparkling wine house. Prior to 2005, he held the dual responsibilities of winemaker and general manager for the winery.

At Schramsberg, Hugh has led the ongoing effort to fine-tune winemaking and grape-growing techniques, building upon the winery’s venerable track record of producing award-winning sparkling wines. He was also instrumental in replanting the winery’s historic hillside vineyards to Bordeaux varietals. The fruit grown in these Diamond Mountain District vineyards is used to produce J. Davies, which debuted with the 2001 vintage.

Hugh serves on the board of directors for the Napa Valley Vintners (president, 2006) and with his family, chaired the 2004 Auction Napa Valley. Hugh, and heads up the Jack L. Davies Fund, committed to carrying on efforts initiated by his late parents to preserve the Napa Valley for its highest uses: agriculture and wild lands.

For prior hands-on experience in the wine industry before joining Schramsberg, Hugh worked with Möet et Chandon in Epernay; Petaluma Winery in South Australia, and Mumm in Napa Valley, among others. His political and public-service background includes work with the San Francisco Trust for Public Land and assisting California Congressman Tony Coelho in Washington, D.C.

He holds a master’s degree in enology from the University of California, Davis, and has his undergraduate degree from Bowdoin College in Maine.

Hugh lives on the Schramsberg grounds with his wife, Monique, and their three sons, Emrys, Nelson and Hugh.

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5 different wines with 18 vintages

Highlights

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Wine Moments

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 James Molesworth, Wine Writer (United States)  tasted  4 wines  from  Davies Vineyards . In a tasting of  11 wines 

Spottswoode Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 (96p) – Very pure, with a piercing edge to its racy cassis, plum and blackberry coulis flavors, this moves along authoritatively while staying relatively light on its feet, with violet, savory and iron threads lining the mouthwatering finish. Beautifully rendered wine that should age gracefully.

15d 7h ago

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