German immigrant Jacob Schram originally founded the estate in 1862. And unlike today’s picturesque Schramsberg’s vineyards, winery, gardens and beautifully restored and maintained Victorian mansion, the 1965 property was run down and overgrown. There were only 20 wineries in Napa Valley and fewer than 50 acres of California vineyard planted to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Also at this point in time, many Americans viewed sparkling wines as just bubbles, and good wine as French.
Yet the Davies forged ahead, replanted the vineyards, and the 1965 Blanc de Blancs was a product of the first commercial use of Chardonnay in American sparkling wine. The 1967 Blanc de Noirs was produced using Pinot Noir according to the classic style, Méthode Champenoise. Next the Schramsberg Reserve, with more than four years of aging, became widely known as the finest sparkling wine made in the United States. Afterwards the Crémant Demi-sec was first made in 1973 ,using the Flora grape, which was a cross between Semillon and Gewürztraminer, created at the University of California, Davis. This wine also became a White House favorite and was served at many state functions. And in 1992, the 1987 vintage of J. Schram emerged as the “prestige cuvee” of Schramsberg.
Today Hugh Davies, the youngest son of the Davies, is President and CEO of Schramsberg and carries on the success and dream of his deceased parents—making American sparkling wines that rival French Champagnes. The most recent vintage of the top tier wines, J. Schram and Schramsberg Reserve is the 2002. The Schramsberg Reserve 2002 is a fine Pinot Noir based wine with a touch of Chardonnay for depth. This full-bodied bubbly is toasty and creamy, with notes of red grapefruit, tangerine and a long lasting mousse. And the J. Schram 2002 is a brut-style that offers notes of caramelized nuts, complex apple, pear and pineapple flavors. The bubbly has a fine and persistent effervescence and a crisp finish. Both wines retail for $99 and are ideally suited for Valentine’s Day toasting.