Karen Cakebread: From Vine to Table
The driving force behind boutique Napa Valley label ZIATA, Karen Cakebread relishes every small step that brings a wine from vineyard to table. The Palo Alto native may as well have been born in wine country—there’s no truer home than Napa Valley for this industry veteran.
Karen launched ZIATA—named for her beloved mother Mary Annunziata Webb—in 2008 with a widely revered Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. Today, the collection also includes the Mia Madre Red Blend, a moving tribute to Karen’s mom. Embarking on her own business venture gave Karen the opportunity to become immersed in every aspect of guiding a wine from vine to bottle to table. Depending on the day, that may mean vineyard sourcing and blending or package design and marketing strategy.
“Creating ZIATA gave me this outlet for all of my passions,” said Karen. “Choosing where we source our fruit, working closely with our growers and our winemaker, building strong connections with our customers—I love being able to put my personal touch on all of it.”
Karen came to Napa by way of Silicon Valley’s high-tech sector nearly 30 years ago. Her first foray into the wine industry came in 1988, when she began marketing Cakebread Cellars wines. Her role spanned 18 years and would see Karen traverse the globe as director of the winery’s corporate hospitality, wine education and international marketing initiatives.
An avid supporter of the nonprofit trade organization Napa Valley Vintners, Karen has served on the association’s board of directors, chaired numerous marketing committees and served as co-chair for Auction Napa Valley, the world’s preeminent charity wine auction. A founding board member and past president of Calistoga Winegrowers, Karen is a tireless advocate for the land and wines of Napa Valley. She also serves on the boards of both the St. Helena Hospital Foundation and UpValley Family Centers of Napa Valley.
Beyond ZIATA, Karen nurtures a sense of adventure and a yearning to explore the world. Her travels have taken her to Nepal, Turkey, Mongolia, Africa and India. And not just as a passive tourist—she has scaled Mt. Kilimanjaro with a group of like-minded Napa Valley women who trek mountains in far-flung locales to raise funds for breast cancer research.
Despite the pull of wanderlust, Karen’s roots are firmly planted in Calistoga, where she tends to her Sauvignon Blanc vines at the home ranch, with her affable Labrador Neela by her side.