Napa, California, USA
One of the original boutique wineries in Napa
It all started out as a family hobby for Dick and Ann Grace, who in 1976 decided to leave San Francisco and find a new home in the country. The first harvest was picked by family and friends in 1978 and taken to nearby Caymus Winery in the back of a station wagon to be processed and bottled. The quality of the fruit and of the resulting wine impressed everyone and the couple realised that their winemaking venture deserved to be taken more seriously. And so one of the first boutique cult wines in Napa Valley was born.
In 1976, Dick and Ann Grace moved their lives and family to Napa. At the time, Napa was just another agricultural region where prunes and walnuts were as viable a crop as grapes, and pig farms dotted the landscape. Their vineyard was simply a one-acre ‘accident’ in the property, which they tended to as a hobby. The first harvest, however, revealed the extreme quality and potential of the fruit it yielded. Their first ever vintage of 1978 scored a huge 98 points. Dick and Ann had fortuitously become the owners of a plot where micro-climate and soil where ideally suited to produce high-end Cabernet Sauvignon.
Serendipity once again played a huge part in the history of the estate when, as interest in Californian wines blossomed, they became one the first “cult” wineries in Napa, seeing demand far outstrip their limited production capacity. Naturally and inevitably their casual hobby would become a fully-fledged winemaking venture. Grace Family Vineyards’ wines have since become renowned worldwide for their balance, refinement and complexity.
The evolution and expansion of the estate reached an important landmark when, in 2014, Helen Keplinger joined as winemaker. Named “Winemaker of the Year” by Food and Wine magazine in 2012, Helen has an profoundly European approach to her craft, with structure and terroir as main guidelines. As such she perfectly embodied and developed Grace Family’s style and ethos carrying on a beautiful, if accidental, tradition.
Location: Napa, California, USA
Viticultural standards: Organic (non-certified)
Our pick of the best wine from this producer: Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
Interesting fact: Grace Family Vineyards is as known for its outstanding wines as for its philanthropic ethos. Even though production is extremely limited Dick & Ann have, since day one, donated a significant proportion to charity auctions around the world.