This story was updated on April 11.
Dick and Ann Grace have sold Grace Family Vineyards, one of Napa's original cult Cabernet Sauvignon producers, as they step back from the wine business. Kathryn Green, a Napa vineyard owner, purchased the Victorian house, a small winery and a 3-acre vineyard as well as the inventory and brand. Production averages 650 cases a year. The sale price was not disclosed.
"[The new owners] want to carry on the tradition of the wine and the philanthropy around it," winemaker Helen Keplinger told Wine Spectator. Keplinger has made the wine at Grace since 2014 and has worked with Green on her Van Asperen property in St. Helena since 2017. "There are a lot of amazing parallels, such as both the Graces and Greens have three children. Both moved up to Napa and fell in love with an agrarian lifestyle. And as they got to know each other, and the Graces wanted to pull back, it was a natural fit for the Greens to make the purchase and keep the story going," said Keplinger.
Green is a strategy consultant who first bought land in Napa Valley in 2009. “It had 400 olive trees and no vines, and I never had any thought of getting into the wine business," Green told Wine Spectator. But over time, the wine bug took hold and she began planting in 2014.
In 2015, she bought the Van Asperen property in St. Helena, which included a vineyard. She currently sells her fruit. Keplinger has consulted with Green on replanting the vineyard, and when Keplinger introduced the Greens and the Graces, a friendship was born. “That friendship had really grown over the last couple of years, so this feels like a natural step for us. Grace is a winery that should be kept in family hands,” said Green.
Dick Grace was working as a stockbroker in San Francisco when he and Ann purchased an old Victorian home on Highway 29 north of St. Helena in 1976 and planted a single acre of Cabernet. By 1978, he was looking for winemaking help, and he called Charlie Wagner of Caymus Vineyards. Wagner liked the fruit so much that he made the wine for Grace at Caymus, labeling it Caymus Vineyards Grace Family Vineyard. Production was just 300 cases and the winery has never been open to the public, giving rise to one of Napa's first ever cult wines.
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The relationship wound down after the 1982 vintage, and the Graces established their own label. Wagner was replaced as winemaker by Gary Galleron, who was succeeded by Randy Dunn and then Heidi Peterson Barrett, giving the estate an all-star history of winemakers. Throughout their time in Napa, the Graces have been known for their philanthropy, donating their wines to raise money for various children's charities.
Dick and Ann, who live on the property, plan to remain involved in the winery. Keplinger and vineyard manager Kendall Smith will remain on the team.