Cakebread Cellars produced its first vintage of Cabernet Sauvignon in 1974. The sources for this wine have remained very constant over the years, and their stability of supply has yielded wines of consistent complexity and character from vintage to vintage. The grapes are sourced from vineyards, including Cakebread's own Rutherford estate, located primarily in the Rutherford and neighboring Oakville appellations, with smaller supplies of fruit from the Stags' Leap, Carneros and St. Helena growing areas. Microclimates sited both on slopes and the valley floor each contribute unique characteristics to the wine. Harvest is typically late, beginning in late September and concluding by late October.
The grapes are hand harvested, destemmed and immediately crushed, and each vineyard lot is fermented separately with selected yeasts in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks over a period of six to seven days. Each lot of grapes is frequently tasted during fermentation to determine when the extraction is at optimum. At that point, the wine is pressed off the skins in membrane wine presses, keeping the press wine separate from the free-run wine. In this way, Cakebread Cellars' red wines, especially the Cabernets, have their natural fruitiness preserved, while the extraction of harsh, drying tannins is avoided. It is then pressed and returned to stainless steel for complete malolactic fermentation. Following this, the wine is racked into French oak barrels, of which roughly half are new and half of one and two years' use for approximately six months.
Cakebread's Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is clear, dark garnet in color with complex, spicy, cedar-like scents and background aromas of cassis and dark berries. On the palate, the texture is rich and smooth with flavors reminiscent of cassis with a hint of chocolate set in a structure of balanced fruit and tannin. These flavors are confirmed on the finish, which is marked by rich, ripe fruit and discreet impressions of oak and spice.