2016 Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs
This is a winery that really needs no introduction. So I’ll keep my introduction short – we have America’s greatest sparkling wine for a huge discount. Done.
But I can’t resist telling a shaggy dog story, and this is a pretty good one:
The time was 1964, the place a run-down shack of a building with a cave attached – full of bats and decaying wine barrels, on Diamond Mountain in Napa Valley. The people? City slickers Jack and Jamie Davis, up from L.A. where Jack was a vice president of a metals distributor, Jamie the mother to their growing family. Like many newcomers to the Valley at the time, they were looking for a change, and escape to a better life. What they had stumbled upon was Jacob Schram’s decaying winery and mansion, first built in 1862.
Jacob Schram was a German immigrant, and a barber by trade. Loving wine, he decided to make some of it on his own. With the help of Chinese immigrant labor, he started planting his estate with vines, dug out caves for winemaking, and built a house. Of course, Americans didn’t drink wine, so he supported all these activities by shaving and cutting frontiermen’s hair. Yet by 1891, he had bootstrapped this place into an actual winery, selling serious wine – and in what would be a harbinger for the estate, President Harris sipped some Schramsberg in 1891. Alas, the great scourge of Prohibition conquered the winery, and production cease with its onslaught.
By 1964 wine hadn’t been produced here in nearly half a century. The vineyards were overgrown and wild, the equipment rusted or disintegrated, the house full of animals living in the walls. And furthermore, the property was too big! To purchase it, the Davises would have to sell 49% of their nascent company to friends and family. But they did it anyways – moving their two young boys (with another born one month after arrival) – and they rejuvenated this magnificent old property.
The rest is history … well, almost. To make a long story short, the Davises were pioneers of the rebirth of Napa Valley as a whole. And pretty much the A list of who’s who in Napa Valley in 1964 stopped by to help them with their home, growing family and, of course, making wine. Through amazing hard work, they produced the first new Schramsberg wine in 1965. By 1967 the produced the United States’ first Blanc de Noirs Champagne (sparkling wine). And of course, the big breakout was in 1972 – President Nixon, in “A Toast to Peace” served Schramsberg sparkling wine to Premier of China Zhou En-lai. Schramsberg sparkling wines have been served by every U.S. Presidential administration since. And if it’s good enough for the President, it’s good enough for me!
The Davises “set out to produce sparkling wine – specifically, ‘America’s most prestigious, select and admired sparkling wine; chosen for special guests, special gifts, pampering one’s self and expressing one’s taste in unique products.’” And they have succeeded!