Julianne Laks was appointed Cakebread Cellars winemaker in 2002, becoming only the third winemaker in its 35 plus year history and the only non-family member to hold the position. She joined the winery in 1986 as a part-time lab technician, later becoming an enologist and an assistant winemaker under winemaker, Bruce Cakebread. Julianne was promoted to winemaker when Bruce became president and chief operating officer succeeding his father, Jack, who continues as chairman and CEO of the winery.
Julianne’s winemaking skill, artistic passion and intimate understanding of the vineyards are just a few of the reasons Julianne was chosen to follow in Bruce’s footsteps.
Even Julianne’s childhood experiences seem to point her toward a career in winemaking. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, she had an affinity for chemistry and loved conducting science and baking experiments in her parents’ kitchen. Additionally, Julianne’s father was an engineer specializing in energy-efficient equipment design and layout, so he worked with wineries on a regular basis. Julianne and her siblings accompanied him on many visits to the wine country. When Julianne was in college, her parents moved to Napa Valley where her father took an engineering position at Robert Mondavi Winery.
In 1977, Julianne graduated from UC Davis, where she was one of only two women to earn a degree in fermentation science that year.
Julianne first took a full-time lab position at Beringer, where she had the opportunity to work closely with Myron Nightingale and learn how to blend aromas and flavors to make the perfect wine. She then moved on to a lab position at Beaulieu Vineyards, where she stayed four years before leaving to start a family.
She is a member of Women for Winesense and Napa Valley Wine Technical Group.