Dolores Cakebread – Napa Valley matriarch wed wine, food and organic gardening
Napa Valley, CA – Dolores Cakebread, co-founder of Cakebread Cellars, one of Napa Valley's most prominent wineries, died peacefully in her sleep on October 2, 2020. She recently celebrated her 90th birthday and 70th wedding anniversary with her husband, Jack.
In an industry in which women once took a backseat to men, Dolores was an equal partner with Jack, her high-school sweetheart with whom she founded Cakebread Cellars in 1973. At the time, she and Jack operated an auto repair shop in Oakland, CA. For years, Dolores, Jack, and their sons Steve, Dennis, and Bruce commuted on weekends from Oakland to Napa, painstakingly constructing a winery, developing an estate vineyard and planting Dolores's now-famous fruit and vegetable gardens, which adorn the family's winery.
"When we first started the winery, I'd prepare lunches for visitors who came to the ranch," Dolores once recalled. "We'd ask friends and wine trade guests to bring old clothes and boots and we'd put them to work before we all gathered in the shade to share a glass or two of wine and some food." Early on, she set the tone of gracious hospitality that continues at the winery.
In the late 1980s, as Cakebread became an iconic American wine brand and a destination for wine lovers visiting Napa Valley, Dolores took responsibility for the winery's hospitality programs and also directed Cakebread' s innovative "American Harvest Workshop," one of the first efforts in the United States to promote wine and food together as part of a healthy lifestyle.
In 2003, Dolores co-authored The Cakebread Cellars Napa Valley Cookbook: Wine and Recipes to Celebrate Every Season's Harvest, a collection of more than 120 recipes perfected in the Cakebread kitchen over the previous 30 years.
Dolores Cakebread is a past president of the San Francisco Chapter of Les Dames d'Escoffier, recipient of the 2015 Grand Dame Award from National Les Dames d'Escoffier and an active member of Women Chefs and Restaurateurs, the International Association of Culinary Professionals, and the San Francisco Professional Food Society. She was also a graduate of the University of California Cooperative Master Gardeners Program and a longtime member of the Garden Class.
She is survived by her husband, Jack, sons Steve, Dennis and Bruce, four grandchildren, a greatgrandchild and her sister, Shirley Ann. A private family service will be held. When Covid safe a Celebration of Life is planned. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a donation to the Napa Valley Community Foundation at NapaValleyCF.org.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Dolores Cakebread, please visit our floral store.