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In 1883, Robert Louis Stevenson wrote “we entered on the grade” at the south corner of what is now our estate vineyard and began his ascent in a horse-drawn wagon up Mount Saint Helena along the Old Toll Road. His memoir is now Napa Valley legend.
We named our winery “THE GRADE” to commemorate his stories about Napa Valley and life on this mountain, but also as a way to tell our own story.
“Making the grade” is an expression for achievement and success in life by reaching the highest standard, and it is a fitting metaphor to our approach to winemaking.
The GRADE Cellars has produced wines of rare balance, eloquence and complexity from fruit grown on this special site since its first vintage in 2004. Situated in the foothills of that mountain, the vineyard combines its naturally pure groundwater, the terroir of its alluvial sedimentary fans and mesoclimate conditions unique to the upper valley into an ideal Cabernet Sauvignon growing site. As Robert Parker once told us, “Calistoga is all about earthiness.”
The wines are made under the direction of Thomas Rivers Brown who joins us in our patient pursuit of wine poetry. Our shared ambition is attaining the transparency of expression between a single vineyard, even a single block, and each bottle it yields. Thomas has achieved this with our three distinctive Cabernets from Winfield Vineyard.
Our collection of wine names are all inspired by passages in the book The Silverado Squatters written by Robert Louis Stevenson during his three-month honeymoon with his bride Fanny in a bunkhouse on the site of Silverado ~ the famous mining town on the mountain’s shoulder above our vineyard.
It’s our quest to show, as Stevenson expressed a century before modern critics, that California’s earth produces the finest Cabernets. We hope all who meet us and taste with us will be inspired to make the grade in their own lives.
Enter the grade…
“The smack of California earth shall linger on the palate of your grandson.”
Making the grade…
In the beginning, God created the heavens -
and the earthiness of Calistoga.
Enter The Grade