Soon after graduating from college, winemaker Rosemary Cakebread and her husband, Bruce, planted a tiny cabernet sauvignon vineyard in St. Helena, California. Three decades later, after a small expansion (they bought the property next door), Rosemary’s organic vineyard, Gallica, is located on what she calls “two gravelly acres” and produces 1,000 cases of much-sought-after wine each year.
That’s the short version of the story. In the longer version, Rosemary worked her way up from early cellar jobs to a winemaking position at Spottswoode Vineyard before founding Gallica. Meanwhile, Bruce joined Cakebread Cellars and over the decades the family business grew exponentially, earning international accolades for its wines.
By the time the couple was ready to transform their two gravelly acres into a modern headquarters—and new garden—for Gallica, they had learned “exactly where the sun rises on the property and exactly where it sets,” she says. To take advantage of the site’s setting and the property’s 360-degree views of the surrounding Napa Valley, the Cakesbreads built a strategically oriented barn and guesthouse. Let’s take a tour.
Photography by Mimi Giboin.
A dry creek serves a dual purpose: It directs the flow of rainwater and creates a striking visual element in the landscape. In the background a redwood tree, which was on the site when the Cakebreads bought the land, is the property’s tallest tree.
The property also has another, larger house but “every time we come over to the guesthouse, we think maybe some day we’ll come to live in this smaller setting,” says Rosemary. The barn houses her office and equipment for the vineyard.
Landscape architect Jonathan Plant created an environmentally friendly garden with low-water plants (which thrive in the dry Napa climate) and Raul Hurtado Landscaping oversaw the garden’s construction and planting.
“We made our little creek bed to make a place for the rainwater to go,” says Cakebread. “In 2017, when we had a lot of rainfall, we learned that it works well.”
Landscape lights are Tiki Path Lights by WAC Lighting. “We bought those ourselves,” Rosemary says. “We’ve lived on the property for a long time, so we knew how we would be coming and going, especially at night.”
If you’re designing a low-water landscape or want to make an existing landscape more environmentally friendly, start with our curated Hardscape 101 guides for Decks & Patios, Gravel Gardens, and Succulents & Cacti 101. For more of our favorite drought-tolerant gardens, see: