Our Napa Valley Chardonnay opens with aromas of ripe golden apple, white peach, and light oak. On the palate, apple and pear characteristics are balanced by fresh acidity, and the finish is clean, with appealing hints of apple and lemon intermingling with notes of minerality. This is a versatile pairing wine—we love it with grilled seafood and nearly any selection of cheeses.
The very first wine released from Cakebread Cellars nearly 50 years ago was our 1973 Napa Valley Chardonnay. Grapes for this wine come from the world-famous Carneros appellation in southern Napa Valley. This region sits just north of San Pablo Bay, whose influence provides the cool, windswept conditions that produce chardonnay with the ideal balance of fruit characteristics and acidity. Soils here are predominantly Haire Loam, a light clay that helps grapevines naturally regulate vigor for fruit of intense concentration.
The 2020 growing season started off warm and dry. Mild conditions in spring were ideal for budbreak and early growth, while steady summer temperatures, with cool mornings and warm, sunny days, ripened chardonnay grapes to perfect flavor and balanced acidity. Yields at harvest were abundant and of very high quality.
We harvested the grapes by night in small batches as they reached perfect maturity. Night harvest gives us fruit that is still cool from the evening temperatures, and we press it directly into tank as whole clusters. We then transfer the juice into French oak barrels for fermentation. A portion of the wine (4%) underwent malolactic fermentation. The wine aged for 8 months in French oak (33% new) with intermittent stirring of the yeast lees to enhance texture and complexity.