The historic Larkmead estate is one of the oldest family-owned establishments in Napa Valley. Originally founded in 1895, Larkmead is now under the stewardship of proprietors Cam and Kate Solari Baker.
Larkmead’s legendary vineyard features a remarkable diversity of soils that are more typical of a hillside than the valley floor. Centuries of alluvial flow have resulted in the accumulation of ancient riverbed gravel, clay, and loam. Winemaker Avery Heelan captures the nuance and complexity of this site by vinifying small lots according to clonal selection and soil type.
The 110 acre vineyard is masterfully tended by vineyard manager Nabor Camerena and viticulturist Kelly Maher.
“Kate and I wanted to recapture the historic place Larkmead Vineyards has held in the Napa Valley and to make wines for a new generation that truly reflects the stature, personality, and history of this world class site.”
- Cam Baker, Proprietor
1992 - Present
Cam and Kate Solari Baker have been the dynamic force behind Larkmead’s transformation from a historic vineyard into a world-renowned wine estate. During the first 10 years of their ownership, they directed a complete replanting of the property, tailoring the selection of varieties, clones, and rootstock to suit the special characteristics of each individual block.
In 2006, they built the first phase of a state of the art winery on the property so that each vineyard block could have its own dedicated vinification tank. Designed by architect Howard Backen, an old family friend, the farmhouse and production facility are both classic and comfortable, providing a place for peaceful reflection away from a busy and demanding world.
1948 - 1992
Larry Solari was, above all, a captivating storyteller. He spoke often of his early days as a wine salesman trying to convince people across the country that wine deserved a place on the dinner table.
Larry’s California journey began in 1920 when, after immigrating to the US at the age of nine, he traveled by train to Sonoma’s Geyserville. He was told as a child that in America he could be whatever he wished to be and he took those words to heart. In 1933, he was the first in his family to earn a college degree, graduating from UC Berkeley at the height of the Great Depression. Shortly thereafter, he married Polly Kavanaugh, a third generation Californian, born in Napa.
1895 - 1942
The Salmina family arrived in the Napa Valley from Switzerland in the 1860s, leased the Larkmead winery in 1895 and purchased it outright in 1903. Felix Salmina had a background in winemaking and quickly set about converting the old wooden winery into a grand business. By 1906, their plans for expansion were complete and the new Larkmead winery stood strong, built of stone quarried from the nearby hills.
1873 - 1895
In 1851, Charles Hitchcock, an army surgeon, moved from North Carolina to San Francisco with his wife Martha and their spirited daughter Lillie. Lillie immediately took to the city, describing it as full of “all fire and action”. This proved prophetic as she was later dramatically rescued from a fire by the Knickerbocker No. 5 Fire Company. Through this experience she became a lifelong and passionate supporter of the San Francisco fire department and even paid homage to her heroes by signing her name with the number ‘5’ after it for the rest of her life. They made her an honorary member – the only woman in America – which earned her the nickname ‘Firebelle Lil’. Later, in recognition of her unwavering enthusiasm and support of the fire stations, Lillie was named the patroness of all San Francisco firemen.