The Grace Family estate is known as one of Napa Valley’s most iconic and prestigious properties, with its beautifully restored Victorian home, winery, organic gardens, sculptures and art from the family’s frequent travels to Nepal and Tibet. Adjacent to their home is the 2,500-square-foot, jewel-box winery designed by friend, architect and fellow Napa winery owner Jon Lail. The stone façade frames hand-carved double oak doors that open to a carefully created space for fermenting and barrel aging. The post-and-beam vaulted ceiling lends the space a temple-like feel. This is a true gem of a winery.
In 1976, Napa Valley was a farming community with more cattle, prunes, olives and hay than world-famous wines. That was the year Dick and Ann Grace jumped on the opportunity to buy an estate in St. Helena that included an 1881 Victorian, in dire need of renovation, and 3.5 acres of land, mostly planted with olives. For most people, embarking on such an adventure would have required a plan, but for Dick the motivation was simple: this was the place he felt like he belonged. For a successful stockbroker, and a Marine Corps officer to boot, having such feelings was certainly a surprise. Listening to them and acting on them was downright radical, but not for Dick and Ann as they have always trusted their intuition.
The Graces were among the first in Napa to implement high-density vine planting and organic farm management. After carefully moving the mature olive trees on the front acre of the property, they put in more than 1,140 Cabernet Sauvignon Bosché clone vines, twice as many per acre as was then customary. In 1978, they harvested their first commercial crop, which amounted to a paltry 49 cases of wine. One case was dropped and broken, reducing the total number of cases to 48. In 1987, they brought the winemaking in-house, and in 1985 their son Kirk oversaw the planting of an additional acre. With phylloxera and oak root fungus compromising their acreage of vines, a replanting was undertaken in 1994, this time with a whopping 3,465 vines to the acre. A third contiguous acre owned by the Perry family planted with the same Bosché clone Cabernet was added in 2000, bringing the total to a still-tiny 3.5 acres of vines, which yields roughly 500 cases of wine annually.