The Grade Cellars is hosting an open house this weekend in celebration of a revamped tasting room and the 10th anniversary of the winery’s first cabernet sauvignon.
The appointment-only tasting room that owners Tom Thornton and Brenda Mixson call The Library at 1236 Lincoln Ave. will be open to the public Saturday, Oct. 4 and Sunday, Oct. 5 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. for a special tasting.
“We call it The Library because it has a combination of a lot of our book collection and our library wine collection,” Thornton said.
The Grade winery produces cabernet sauvignon grown at the Winfield Vineyard estate in Calistoga, and a sauvignon blanc under the label Sea-Fog, also grown in Calistoga.
“We’re all Calistoga. Our vineyards are here, our winemaker is here, our tasting room is here,” Thornton said. “We’re Calistoga-centric.
For appointments outside of the open house weekend call 967-8200.
The couple is looking for a home in the city as well, but having little luck because supply is down, he said.
Their winemaker, Thomas Rivers Brown, who also lives in Calistoga, has been making wine there since 2011.
“I joined the Calistoga Winegrowers. I’m helping them come up with a new logo,” Thornton said.
Located at the end of Lincoln Avenue nearer to Foothill Boulevard, Thornton said that stretch of the main strip is bustling these days.
“Our end of Lincoln Avenue is starting to emerge as the best end of town. If you want to differentiate our end of the Lincoln Avenue Mall, if you will, we have Romeo’s, Calistoga Kitchen, and us. And we have more shade,” he said.
As an added incentive to stop by for a visit, Thornton will have his 1967 Landrover Series IIA, a vehicle he plans on using for “vineyard safari” tours parked outside, he said.
“It adds to our ambiance.”
Transplanted New Yorkers, the couple has been invested in Calistoga since the late 1990s, and in 2000 replanted the vineyard into five distinctive cabernet blocks and began selling fruit they grew on their 32-acre site called Sundance Ranch. The first vintage for their own label, The Grade, was in 2004.
The name was found in the writings of Robert Louis Stevenson, who honeymooned in the 19th century on Mount Saint Helena, above the vineyards they own. Stevenson told of his travels on Old Toll Road he called “the grade” in his book ‘The Silverado Squatters.”
The name, Sea-Fog, the sauvignon blanc label, is also a Stevenson reference.