Hugh Davies, President and Vintner of Schramsberg Vineyards, has been part of the Calistoga community since his parents purchased the property in 1965, determined to revive the historic estate and make a world class sparkling wine. Born and raised in the Valley, Hugh has been working with the family business since 1996 when he became the enologist.
Schramsberg’s history dates back to the 19th century when German immigrant Jacob Schram made it his home and started the winery on Diamond Mountain. The Schramsberg Vineyards we know today was founded by Hugh’s parents, Jack and Jamie Davies, who discovered the run-down property after an exhaustive search. The ambitious couple then set out to produce sparkling wine-specifically, “America’s most prestigious, select admired sparkling wine.” Later that year they produced a Blanc de Blancs that was the first commercial use of Chardonnay in American sparkling wine. This special sparkler has continued to have a starring role in world history and was used in President Nixon’s 1972 “Toast to Peace” with China’s Premier Zhou Enlai. In fact, the Schramsberg sparkling wines have been served at official State functions by every U.S Presidential administration since.
With 80 employees to oversee between Schramsberg and the Davies Winery (St. Helena) and countless bottles to riddle, how does Hugh relax on a day off? It usually includes a trip to the ballpark to cheer on his favorite Oakland A’s or an outdoor excursion-Hugh is an avid backpacker and mountain climber. And while Hugh’s wine country essential is the trusty corkscrew, he frequently enjoys a crisp, palate-cleansing pilsner once the workday is done.
When asked what advice Hugh would give to his younger self, “I would recommend global travelling more, and I travelled a bunch in my youth. And learn another language, for sure. Espanol es importante”. As for the city of Calistoga, “Calistoga has that feel of a classic western town. You’ve got to love the eastern view down Lincoln Avenue of the Palisades above and the western view up into the forested Mayacamas. There is a positive community here of good people who truly enjoy life. Friendly community, natural beauty, good life,” states Hugh. This is Calistoga.
This Is Calistoga is our new blog series profiling our members, their stories and life in Calistoga. Check in regularly and follow along.