The history of Storybook Mountain starts in 1883 when Jacob Grimm, later joined by his brother Adam, purchased 400 acres just north of Calistoga and started Grimm Vineyards and Wine Vault. The winery flourished until prohibition, and eventually burned down in 1964, although the underground caves survived.
In 1976, Jerry Seps, a former professor of European history, and his wife, Sigrid, fell in love with the wild, abandoned site and purchased 90 acres surrounding the original winery, planting roughly half to grapevines. The Seps renamed the vineyard Storybook Mountain to denote its fairytale beauty and to honor the brothers Grimm. Advised by legendary winemaker Andre Tchelistcheff that the hills above Calistoga, with their red clay-loam soils and eastern exposures, were the best place in California to plant Zinfandel grapes, the Seps replanted the vineyard to Zinfandel. Subsequently they added Cabernet Sauvignon, other red Bordeaux varieties, and Viognier.
The first Storybook Mountain Zinfandel, released in 1983, earned a gold medal, and more accolades followed. In 1989, the 1984 Reserve Zinfandel became the highest-rated Zinfandel in history. In 2003, Wine & Spirits Magazine named Storybook Mountain “Artisan Winery of the Year” and included Storybook among its Top 100 Wineries in the World, an honor we have now won 14 times.
While Storybook was garnering acclaim for its intense, beautifully structured Zinfandels, Jerry Seps was methodically mapping out sections of the estate vineyard where red Bordeaux varieties might thrive. Jerry chose cooler, north-facing parcels with thinner soils, which he began planting in 1994. The first Storybook Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon was released in 2005.
During the 42 years since the Seps family purchased the estate, Storybook Mountain has earned distinction after distinction. In 1994, The United States Embassy in Stockholm, Sweden, poured Storybook Mountain Zinfandel to honor that year’s Nobel laureates. The wines have been served in the White House by three Presidents. In 2005, famed critic Robert Parker characterized Storybook as “representing the pinnacle of wine quality in California” and one of the six best Zinfandels in the world.
Today, Jerry and Sigrid, along with their daughter and son-in-law, Colleen and Rick Williams, continue building an impressive legacy of world-class, artisan wines.