...fabulous. A wine of vertical power and thrust...magnificent intensity from start to finish. Black cherry, scorched earth, licorice, plum and chocolate give this substantial Cabernet tons of complexity.
The Grade Cellars was established in Calistoga in 1997 when the husband and wife team of Tom Thornton and Brenda Mixson bought 32-acres of a former almond orchard with the idea of retiring to Napa Valley and growing grapes. The couple lived and worked in New York City, where Thornton was a practicing architect and Mixson worked in commercial real estate, but became interested in Napa Valley after visits in the 1990s. In 2000 they replanted 12 acres of their property to Cabernet Sauvignon and had their first commercial vintage in 2004. Only 300 cases of The Grade Cellars 100% Cabernet Sauvignon are produced each year and Thornton and Mixson sell some of their grapes to other producers. They also make a Sauvignon Blanc. The widely-acclaimed winemaker Thomas Rivers Brown has produced The Grade Cellars wine since 2011. The name The Grade Cellars is a literary reference to the 19th century American author Robert Louis Stevenson, who honeymooned near St. Helena and later included a description of what is now The Grade Cellars vineyard and the stagecoach route leading past it – which he called “the grade” -- in his book “The Silverado Squatters.”
Calistoga AVA is one of Napa Valley’s newer appellations, having been given appellation status in 2010. It is notable for its volcanic soil, which is unusual in the Napa Valley. Calistoga also experiences the greatest average 24-hour temperature swing of any Napa Valley AVAs, which Calistoga grape growers insist give the grapes time to “cool down” at night, making for better balanced wines. The 1,500 Calistoga vineyard acres are planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Syrah and Petite Sirah, along with smaller amounts of other varietals. Calistoga is at the northern end of Napa Valley, northwest of the Diamond District and St. Helena AVAs. Longtime winemaker Bo Barrett of Chateau Montelena, which is located in the Calistoga AVA, proposed the creation of the appellation.
One of the most widely grown grape varieties, it can be found in nearly every wine growing region. A cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. It’s a hardy vine that produces a full-bodied wine with high tannins and great aging potential.