SCHRAMSBERG Winery 150th Anniversary Dinner with Hugh Davies 11/7
at City Winery Chicago
- 6:45 PM
- 7:00 PM
- 9:00 PM
In 1826, in the small town of Pfeddersheim Germany, along the Rhine River, Jacob Schram was born. He came from a winemaking family. When he was sixteen, the young Schram immigrated to New York. He was educated in the trade of barbering, and in 1852 sailed across the Caribbean, crossed-over the Panama Isthmus, and continued up to San Francisco. He spent the next several years barbering, eventually moving his way north, to the Napa Valley.In 1859 he married Annie Christine Weaver, also from Germany, and they started a family. For several years he continued to barber full time. Never far from his thoughts were his homeland and his roots in the vinelands of Germany. In 1862, Jacob purchased a large piece of land on the mountainsides of the Napa Valley. He was going to be a part of the emerging efforts by many fellow German countrymen in the Napa Valley to make wine; thus Schramsberg was born.
They began to clear the wooded and wild land, building a rustic cabin to shelter themfrom the weather. They planted European varietals, and began to produce wine. Jacobremained a barber to supplement his income, while the work at Schramsberg continued. After fully realizing the summer heat in the area, he hired Chinese workers to help him dig his cool underground cellars. Annie was often left in charge of the hired hands as Jacob visited fellow vintners in the valley, and took on the role of salesman both near and far.
The Schramsberg estate is tucked into the densely forested slopes of Diamond Mountain, a few miles south of the town of Calistoga, and is home to the oldest hillside vineyards in Napa. It totals 218 acres with 43 acres planted to vines. The estate, a registered historic landmark, has been painstakingly restored by the Davies family. The Victorian house, the lower winery, the barn and the caves remain largely unchanged since Jacob Schram’s days. Schramsberg has also played a role in world history. The Blanc de Blancs was used for President Nixon’s 1972 “Toast to Peace” with China’s Premier Zhou Enlai. Schramsberg’s sparkling wines have been served at official State functions by every U.S. Presidential administration since.
Schramsberg Vineyards is now in the hands of Jack and Jamie Davies' youngest son, Hugh. Born in 1965, the year his parents Jack and Jamie Davies revived the historic Schramsberg Vineyards property in Napa Valley, Hugh was named President and CEO of the 40-year old sparkling wine house in 2005. Prior to this, he held the dual responsibilities of Winemaker and General Manager. He holds a master's degree in enology from the University of California, Davis, and has his undergraduate degree from Bowdoin College in Maine.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. Schramsberg’s current stable of vineyards includes more than 90 specially selected sites in the Carneros district of Napa Valley, the Anderson Valley, and along the Sonoma and Marin coasts. The winery's commitment to small lot base wine production has yielded extraordinary blending opportunity for the 8-10 sparkling blends produced each year. Over 200 lots are evaluated after harvest, representing many variables: vineyard terroir, grape clone, barrel fermentation, stainless tank fermentation, malolactic fermentation, etc.Additionally, Hugh was instrumental in replanting the historic hillside Diamond Mountain District vineyards adjacent to the winery to Bordeaux varietals. They are now used by the Schramsberg winemaking team to make J. Davies Cabernet Sauvignon. From the first vintage in 2001, J. Davies has received both public and critical acclaim. Hugh serves on the board of directors for the Napa Valley Vintners (he was President, 2006) and, with his family, he chaired the 2004 Auction Napa Valley. Hugh, along with his brother Bill, heads up the Jack L. Davies Fund, which is committed to carrying on efforts initiated by his father 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 Napa Valley, among others. Yay, bubbles!
“My quote for the year is ‘Harvest 2012 is going to be epic.’ We’ve had an ideal growing season, the vineyards are well balanced and everything is ripening as it should. It looks great, so far.”
California sparkling wine has come a long way since Jacob Schram decided hills of Calistoga in the 1860s looked like a suitable place to plant vines. With a vision to plant vines like those he’d left behind in his beloved Rhineland (with hills far steeper – and a higher difficulty factor to farm).
Schram wasn’t making sparkling wine back then – that Calistoga climate barely managed the German varietal still wines he planted there. He hired Chinese laborers to dig the site’s now-famous hillside caves in order to protect his wines from the heat. You can still spy pickaxe marks on the cave walls.
Herman, Jacob’s son, was quite unlucky. With the double whammy of Prohibition and phylloxera, the winemaking family business faltered and was sold in 1912.
Jack and Jamie Davies scooped the property on up in 1965. They built a frong pond and began making seriously high end sparkling wine. “For us, it is all about terroir,” says Hugh Davies, proprietor of Schramsberg — currently celebrating its 150th anniversary — is the oldest sparkling wine house in California and, dating back to 1862, one of the first wineries of any sort in Napa Valley. He unfolds a map showing his vineyards dotted across Sonoma and Carneros. He can speak to the unique microclimate of each vineyard and tell you what time the fog settles in the evening and how many hours of sunshine each vineyard gets during the growing season. “We have something special here,” he says.
Well. Indeed. Let us help celebrate 150 freaking years with a big freaking party. Classy and full of bubbles. Chef John Fuente has created an extensive tasting menu exclusively for this event, to pair with these beautifully bubbly wines. 6 courses paired with 5-6 wines. California sparkling, Champagne quality. Please join us for an exquisite, intimate, and amazing evening.
Reception - 2006 Blanc de Blancs (Magnums)
Rappahannock Oysters - Cucumber, Shallot, Lemon Zest, Caviar, Black Pepper.
First Pairing - 2001 Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs, Late Disgorged
Lobster Bisque - Maine Lobster, Brioche Crouton, Crème Fraîche, Chive.
Second Pairing - 2004 J. Schram Rosé
Pork Belly - Foraged Mushrooms, Roasted Shallot, Mâche, Quince.
Third Pairing - 2009 J. Davies Cabernet Sauvignon
Lamb - Roasted Rack and Crispy Sweetbreads. Winter Squash Purée, Braised Kale, Lamb Reduction.
Fourth Pairing - 2007 Crémant Demi-sec
Caramelized Blue Cheese - Dunbarton Blue Cheese, Fig, Spiced Pecan, Grilled Ciabatta, Local Honey.