Cakebread is a well known name in Cayman as one of California’s most popular winemakers. Dennis Cakebread, son founder of Cakebread, visited Grand Cayman during the Cayman Cook Out to spend time with people who loved hearing more about his family’s special brand of liquid California sunshine. The spectacular dinner at the Brasserie was the culmination of his visit, with diners enjoying a selection of his finest wines.
Starting out, as so many Napa Valley wineries did, from immigrants to the US (Dennis’s grandfather was an English coal miner who went to America during the 19th Century gold rush), Cakebread winemaking, located in the heart of the Napa Valley, began its days as a small garage winemaking entity with the family simply making wines that they loved in the hope that others would love them too.
Dennis’s parents were high school sweethearts Jack and Dolores, who worked on Jack’s parents’ almond ranch in Contra Costa County and eventually purchased his father’s family business repairing cars. In the 1970s Jack and Dolores bought the ranch and set up Cakebread Cellars, splitting their time between the garage business and their new wine business and sons Dennis and Bruce grew up learning literally from the ground up. Nowadays Bruce is the winery’s President and Dennis manages sales and marketing, getting to travel all over the world to speak about his family’s passion for winemaking.
Today the winery is a popular Napa Valley destination for food and wine lovers and its vineyards and winery are committed to green practices and obtained its Napa Green certification in 2008. Cakebread now owns over 445 acres of prime vineyard land in 13 different sites and all but one are across Napa.
Dennis explains the motivation behind creating Cakebread wines: “It’s all about finding great balance in wine,” he says. “It starts in the ground, with good grapes. We harvest our grapes at night time for the optimal picking temperature. The fog rolls into the Napa Valley in the early hours of the morning and acts like a natural air conditioning for the grapes.”
Dennis says that the weather in Napa is extremely conducive to great grape growing because it is so consistent.
“The weather means that we don’t have years when the weather upsets the growth of the grapes, as they do in France,” he explains. “We only have very good years and sometimes excellent years.”
For the wine dinner, diners enjoyed a glass of Cakebread Sauvignon Blanc from the Napa Valley, a fruity expression of the grape, followed by Cakebread’s mellow and buttery Chardonnay. Their Pinot Noir from the Anderson Valley complemented the chef’s rice gnocchi to perfection, while the winery’s big and fruity Cabernet Sauvignon was the best pairing of the night against the fantastic grilled CAB tenderloin. The final pouring of the Cakebread Merlot with its distinguished smoky, mellow flavours was a delicious example of balance and refinement.