Exceptional sparkling wines from California's North Coast
Schramsberg’s founders, Jack and Jamie Davies were determined to seek out a simpler, more meaningful life. In 1965, after a year-long search, they discovered a run-down winery on the mountainside above St. Helena. The 19th century Victorian mansion presided over the tangled remains of once stately gardens and underground cellars. The historic Schramsberg property had been abandoned for years, but the Davies were looking for a challenge. On that day they decided Schramsberg would be brought back to life.
Schramsberg’s history dates back to the 19th century, when German immigrant Jacob Schram first made his home and started his winery on Diamond Mountain.
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 restored the ancient homestead and raised their family in the ‘house that Schram built’, retaining 155 acres of forested land while using only 43 acres for vineyards. At Schramsberg, preservation has always been an integral part of the plan.
The Davies had an ambition to make wine, but not just any wine. They were setting out to produce a world-class sparkling wine, and it was a lofty goal. Later that year, the 1965 Blanc de Blancs came to be, and would be the first commercial use of Chardonnay in American sparkling wine.
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 focuses on producing the finest and most complex hand-crafted sparkling wines in California. Preserving century-old traditions, many of their viticultural and winemaking practices are still carried out by hand. Grapes are hand-harvested, the wines are handcrafted, the bottles are stacked and riddled in underground caves. The J. Schram, Schramsberg’s top Chardonnay offering, is even hand-labeled.
Schramsberg sparkling wines are produced from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes grown in a broad array of cool-climate North Coast vineyards located in Napa, Mendocino, Sonoma and Marin counties. The winemakers, Hugh Davies and Sean Thompson, draw from more than 110 individual vineyard sites to create over 250 base wines each year. These wines are then artfully blended to create Schramsberg’s 12-14 distinctive sparkling wines each year.
Today, Hugh Davies and the Schramsberg team continue the tradition adopted by Jack and Jamie, and have taken these goals a step further with a solid set of practices and policies that ensures conservation and stewardship of the land set forth by the Napa Green Certified Winery and Land programs.
They have made a name for themselves by setting out to produce “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.” Through the decades, this spirit of innovation earned Schramsberg and the Davies worldwide praise and recognition.
We are delighted to offer this exceptional Schramsberg Vineyards sparkling wine as a Diamond Wine Club Special feature.
Information on this page has been sourced from Schramsberg.com.
Sean Thompson - Senior Winemaker
Growing up in the diverse agricultural region of Sonoma County, Sean Thompson acquired a deep interest in the cultivation and preparation of the bounty that comes from the soil. This interest to live his life with a focus on agriculture led him to his first round at the University of California, Davis, earning a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Chemistry in 1992, with “minors” in tractor maintenance and bus/truck driving.
Upon his completion of his degree, Sean began a career in winemaking, starting with Beringer Vineyards at the old Italian Swiss Colony in Asti, California. Sean would build a strong foundation for his future, by continuing his enological exploration with the fermentation of red wines, by moving to Napa for a position at Rutherford Hill Winery.
Although rich in practical experience, Sean desired broadening his enology education through the educational system. He returned to the University of California, Davis in the fall of 2002, and soon earned his Masters of Science in Viticulture and Enology.
Upon graduation, Sean continued his growth at Staglin Family Estate in Rutherford, CA, working directly with Luc Morlet on estate-driven Cabernet Sauvignons. Sean joined the Schramsberg winemaking team in the summer of 2006, as the Assistant Winemaker for the J. Davies Diamond Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon program.
Sean was promoted to position of Head Winemaker of the still wine program in 2008, focusing on the production of the J. Davies Estate wines and the development of the broader Davies Vineyards brand. In addition to his duties as the red wine winemaker, he also had active participation in blending and dosage evaluation and complete oversight of bottling and disgorging or the sparkling wine program. In 2015, he was promoted to be the Senior Winemaker for both Davies and Schramsberg Vineyards brands, overseeing the production and winemaking of all wines produced.
Hugh Davies - Vintner
One might say that Hugh Davies was born with a wineglass in his hand, and that wouldn’t be too far from the truth. Hugh was born in 1965, the same year that his parents, Jack and Jamie Davies, purchased the abandoned Schramsberg Estate in Calistoga. Hugh grew up amongst the vines, caves, tanks and barrels that make Schramsberg Vineyards what it is today; the premier producer of American sparkling wines.
Named President of Schramsberg Vineyards in 2005, Hugh had already spent multiple years as the winemaker and general manager of the winery. He had lived and breathed the winery life since he first walked the vineyards as a toddler and as a young man, he ventured away from home to broaden his experiences; earning a master’s degree in enology from the University of California, Davis, an undergraduate degree from Bowdoin College in Maine, and honing his skills at Möet et Chandon in Epernay, Petaluma Winery in South Australia and Mumm Napa. This diverse background has provided Hugh with the knowledge and skills to take the reins of Schramsberg and guide it into the future.
Hugh never rests on the successes of previous years, and is always looking to build upon the winery’s venerable track record of producing award-winning sparkling wines that rival the best sparkling wines available worldwide. He has increased the number of vineyards that the winery sources grapes from to over 115 cool-climate sites across Carneros, Anderson Valley, and the Sonoma and Marin coasts; he championed the increased usage of barrel fermentation in the production process; and he expanded the small-lot base wine program to an impressive 250 lots of unique wines. These programs have provided the winemaking team with a much broader base of flavor profiles to utilize when ensuring the quality of the final blends of the 10-12 sparkling wines made each year.
Hugh’s vision and guidance has led initiatives to update the winery’s production and bottling line facilities and completely renovate the visitor center to provide guests with the most memorable experience possible. Continuing on a path that started 50 years ago, Hugh carries on with the family legacy.