Storybook Mountain Vineyards

Storybook Mountain Vineyards

Storybook Mountain has established a world-wide reputation for the consistently high quality of its wines. The Zinfandel tradition began at Storybook Mountain in the early 1880s when its red clay-loam hillsides in the Mayacamas Range were first planted to this varietal. Here, an ideal match of terroir and grape allows Zinfandel to show its true potential. Legend has it that all Storybook Zinfandels have happy endings.

Storybook Mountain's sought-after estate wines are carefully hand-crafted from choice grapes grown in certified organic estate vineyards surrounding the winery. They are aged at least 12 months in the best French, Hungarian, and American oak barrels, inside century-old caves dug deep into the mineral-rich volcanic rock underlying the hand-tended vineyard.

In 1883, Adam Grimm, scion of a German wine-growing family, bought 405 acres of mountain land above Calistoga and planted extensive vineyards, including Zinfandel. In 1889, his brother Jacob Grimm joined Adam, and they dug 3 large tunnels 100 feet into the volcanic rock and established Grimm’s Vineyards and Wine Vaults.

In 1976 Jerry and Sigrid Seps fell in love with the wild, abandoned place and purchased the ninety acre parcel surrounding the ghost winery. They called it Storybook Mountain, to pay tribute to the scenic beauty, and honor the memory of the original founders. They replanted Zinfandel. Proprietors Jerry and Sigrid’s wines are famed for intensity and longevity. Raspberries, black cherries and spice are the essence of their complex, well balanced and elegant wines.

The century-old wine caves on the Storybook Mountain Vineyards property were dug by Adam Grimm, who with his brother Jacob, founded the Grimm Vineyards and Wine Vaults. The Grimm brothers came from a German wine producing family which has been involved in this business since 1540 and continues to be to this day.

We found the earliest reference to our wine caves in the Viticulturist of July 8, 1889: “..Mr. Grimm is now engaged in driving two tunnels 10 x 100 feet into the mountain side for a cellar, where he intends to store and age his wines.” At a later date a third cave was added and the three connected across the back. A round room was dug out between the center and the right hand cave, which the winery used as a riddling room in sparkling wine production. Nowadays, visitors are invited to taste Storybook Mountain wines in these unique surroundings.

The rock into which the caves were dug is rhyolite, volcanic in origin. The temperature in the caves is between 55 and 60 degrees F, winter through summer, with high humidity, making an ideal environment for barrel aging without energy consumption. Storybook Mountain presently ages its wines in about 400 French, American, and Hungarian oak barrels tucked away in these caves.

Climate - in the broad context of temperature, precipitation, prevailing wind and storm patterns as well as exposure to the sun - is of crucial importance for optimum fruit development and thus the quality of a vineyard. Storybook Mountain is located at the top of the Napa Valley, on an eastern slope of the Mayacamas Range whose ridges separate Napa from Sonoma. This gives us the desired eastern exposure, an orientation we share with many of the greatest vineyards in Bordeaux and Burgundy. Adequately warm weather for ripening is rarely a problem in the Napa Valley - and certainly not for us. Open to the morning sun and providing an oblique angle to the hot afternoon sun for a growing day of even temperature, an easterly exposure helps avoid both the heat spikes and heat accumulation that can occur on a late summer afternoon. Vines actually shut down when the temperatures rise above 95 degrees F, whereas maximum efficiency in sunlight and nutrient assimilation is reached between 75 and 85 degrees F.

Our location at the top of the Valley further moderates our temperature. The Russian River to our west funnels in cooling ocean breezes on warm afternoons. The path of these breezes to the hot interior leads over the low point in the ridge separating the valley systems, i.e. Storybook Mountain. As a result, we are usually 10 degrees cooler than the valley just below us.

The rain pattern, too, contributes to the uniqueness of our site. Because of the winter storms that come off the Pacific and in from the north, and our proximity to 4344-foot Mount St. Helena, our corner of Napa is the rainiest in the county, receiving twice the rain of Carneros at the south end of the Valley. This moisture - given our clay soil and relative coolness - means most of our mature vines do not need irrigation. In the crucial summer and fall months, however, we receive less rain than the rest of the Valley, protected as we are by our ridges and northerly location from the summer and fall storms that usually come up from Mexico. This relative dryness is an especially wonderful boon if the weather at harvest is less than ideal.

The land and the weather come together in unique ways at Storybook Mountain, assuring you who drink our wines of all the advantages of estate grapes grown organically on one of Napa Valley's best vineyard sites as well as its most beautiful.