An early Napa Valley 'cult' brand, Grace Family Vineyards sold to local grower

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Grace Family Vineyards, said to be one of Napa Valley's first cult wineries, announced its sale to a local grape-growing family four decades after the first vintage.

Dick and Ann Grace sold the Victorian house, 2,500-square-foot St. Helena winery and 3.5 acres of vines to Kate Green's family. The Graces will continue to live there and plan to stay involved with the winery, the announcement said. The deal price wasn't disclosed.

"Under the Green family's stewardship, Grace Family Vineyards will have a long, bright, and nourishing future,” the couple said in a statement.

The Graces purchased the property with a 1881 Victorian and olive trees in 1976, planted the first cabernet sauvignon vines and had the first vintage in 1978. Caymus Vineyards made the wine until the winery was ready in 1987, and Grace Family Vineyards became a separate label in 1982.

"After 43 years living on the property, the Graces felt it was time to transition the responsibility to a next generation of vintners...," the brief announcement said.

Their decision parallels that of a number of other vintner families in Wine Country in the past decade. Reasons given over the years range from the stress of the ever more competitive wine market to the next generation's opting for other careers to "founder fatigue."

According to the Wine Spectator, which first reported the deal, Green is a strategy consultant who bought into Napa Valley land a decade ago, picking up an olive orchard and converting it to vines in 2014. She reportedly purchased the Van Asperen vineyard in 2015 and called on Grace winemaker Helen Keplinger to advise on replanting.

The publication reports that production averages 650 cases annually and that Keplinger and vineyard manager Kendall Smith will remain in place under the new ownership.

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