By: Darin Szilagyi
On Tuesday of this past week, Jamie Davies passed away at the too young age of 73. Jamie and her husband Jack were among the pioneers of Napa that turned it from a mixed agrarian community to the wine Eden that it is today.
In the mid 60's, Jamie and Jack Davies resurrected the ghost winery of Jacob Schram and through their pure determination brought it back to life. Their story has provided the motivation for two generations of dreamers to follow their heart out of professional careers and into the world of wine making.
Beyond their bold move, their restoration of one of Napa's most historic wine estates, and the preservation of the architecture on the location, what makes the Davies' story even more dramatic was their determination to stake their entire fortune on their ability to produce and market a true methode champenoise from Napa fruit.
What started as a peculiar endeavor grew, with the friendly help of other Napans, into a truly world-class sparkling wine. A wine suitable for heads of state, as witness to its presentation during the ground breaking meetings between President Nixon and Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai.
Schramsberg has deep personal meaning to me. In December of 1999, I was the marketing leader for a very fast growing wireless property jointly owned by Bell Atlantic & AirTouch. My team was highly dedicated, and took great pride in our very creative brand. Earlier that year we learned that Bell Atlantic, AirTouch, and Vodafone had decided to merge their wireless operations into a new company that would become Verizon. Properties would need to be divested in order to gain Justice Department approval, integration pains were likely, and our brand was surely to be retired.
That Winter as we very quickly approached integration date, a melancholy fog settled in over my team. At a weekly staff meeting a few weeks before Christmas I presented every member of my staff with a book that detailed the Davies' entry into Napa and a bottle of Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs for their Millennium celebrations. I shared with them that my love of wine had more to do with the people I shared a glass with than what was in the glass itself. It was likely that our team would soon be broken up, and this was my time to cement in their minds what each of them meant to me.
And with so much uncertain in our futures, the story of the Davies could bear witness that life presents great joy for those that have hope.
Ms Davies, so many of us thank you for your great story.