Jack and Jamie Davies

Courtesy of Schramsberg
Jack and Jamie Davies

In 1965, Jack Davies was a successful Los Angeles businessman. But he and his wife, Jamie, had a vision—they wanted to make an American version of Champagne. With determination and $400,000, they bought a neglected Napa winery called Schramsberg to prove it could be done.

At that time, very few California wineries were making sparkling wine using the traditional method, and none were using the classic Champagne varieties of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. The Davies struggled to find suitable grapes and to master the complicated technique. But they soon began producing outstanding wines, and in 1972, President Richard Nixon brought a case of Schramsberg 1969 to China to toast Chinese Premier Chou En-lai. Schramsberg's success prompted imitation, and many Champagne houses opened sparkling wine cellars in California. Jack died in 1998, Jamie in 2008, but the winery, still family-owned, continues to set the pace for U.S. sparkling wine.

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