R.I.P. Jamie Davies
I have just learned that the wonderful, effervescent Jamie Davies of Schramsberg has passed away after battling Parkinson’s Disease, at the age of 73. Davies was the pioneer of America’s premiere sparkling wine, one which I would even consider a champagne, as the methods and varietals originated in Champagne and the practice of hand riddling were still being primarily used at the Calistoga winery.
An exceptional woman her entire life, her husband Jack purchased the Jacob Schram estate in Calistoga in 1965, fulfilling a paradox of the Beverly Hillbillies saga, when they moved into the dilapidated Victorian estate with overgrown vineards, from their posh SoCal home.Born Jamie Peterman, the Berkeley graduate, athlete, and art curator, was destined to be quite the catch.
Noted in a wonderful related article in the San Francisco Chronicle, when she was married, Herb Caen told San Francisco bachelors in his column to “F’get it, all you guys who’ve been chasing … Jamie Peterman.” Caen wrote she was officially taken, so “Slash your wrists.”
Davies was seen as the “Grande Dame” of California’s wine industry, and was very well respected by her peers, noted the WineSpectator. The Mondavi’s were especially taken by the ambition and achievements of the Davies.
“I thought I was ambitious, with all my plans,” Robert Mondavi recalled at Jack Davies’ memorial service in 1998. But when he met the Davies and listened to their dreams, he remarked, “They were even more challenging than mine.”
“She was the grande dame of the wine industry, a real icon of the valley,” said Mrs. Mondavi. “She had such wonderful manners, poise and she could talk about her wines with such eloquence. She had a great family and was greatly admired. She made one of our happy drinks. Champagne fitted her well.”
The legacy that the Davies will leave behind will far outlive them in the sparkling wine that brings effervescence to all of our lives that are graced with the opportunity to experience it.
“Jamie and Jack were friends of presidents, ambassadors, celebrities, generations of winemakers, farmers and dreamers for close to a half a century,” said Napa vintner Tor Kenward. “In turn, they were two of the greatest ambassadors Napa Valley and the California wine industry had from 1965 to now. To me, they shared and championed the same ideals—they were honest, hardworking, and committed to their dream, building the quality and image of their Schramsberg winery. Jamie was every bit as involved as Jack each step of the way.”