I was a 25-year-old entrepreneur in the making, dreaming of starting her first company when I first had the great fortune of meeting Jack Cakebread
. He came to our Stanford GSB Wine Circle
, with my future Bottlenotes cofounder, Kim Donaldson
, who had architected his MBA educational series with the goals of not only helping to plant the seed of future brand ambassadors for Cakebread Cellars
, but more philanthropically, recruiting talented MBAs into the global wine industry.
was one of the fathers of the Napa Valley
, the steward of one of the greatest family-owned enterprises in the US, and the creator of one of the most iconic luxury brands in wine globally. He pioneered international distribution of Napa Valley
wines through his partnership with Gerard Yvernault
, then of Kobrand Corporation
. He maintained the rustic elegance, extraordinary humility, and unparalleled vision and insightfulness that perhaps can only come from someone trained as Ansel Adams’
He was the ultimate entrepreneur, starting Cakebread Cellars
with the advance payment from a Napa Valley photo shoot, with his beloved wife, Dolores (the love of his life from age 13 onward!),even while keeping the business his father started, Cakebread Garage, going as the winery launched.
and I cofounded Bottlenotes, Jack was the most extraordinary mentor one could have hoped for. He not only agreed to join our start-ups board, providing a halo of crucial credibility to us, he also generously hosted us for each board meeting and (delicious) board launch thereafter at Cakebread Cellars
. Jack imparted unto me the timeless business principles to always
put the customer first, to always deliver highest-quality product, and to develop essential strategic partnerships to grow your enterprise. These are just a few of the truisms he imparted in me that I still hold dear.
He recognized that when the regulatory tides had turned for our 1.0 business model, it was appropriate to pivot to 2.0 (media strategy), with the same values of educating and entertaining the next generation of wine enthusiasts at our core.
Jack’s comments that Sauvignon Blanc is a “breakfast wine,” and that for “every glass of wine, you should have a tall glass of water,” still make me smile. He relished in excellent food along with his excellent wine, alongside excellent company. He set the highest of bars in his excellent marriage, his excellent team, and his blessed life. He was an intellectual, an artist, an entrepreneur, a visionary, an industry leader, a family man. Jack was the best of the best of the best as mentors and sponsors go. While it feels like hardly enough to honor his 92 years of life and extraordinary legacy in these few paragraphs, I could not let the moment pass without at least honoring him. To read the complete obituary
on Jack Cakebread from last week, find it here
Cheers to you, Jack
. You forever impacted my life and that of countless other entrepreneurs. I will think of you fondly every time I sip your wine, for the rest of my life. May you rest in peace.