ST. HELENA (CBS SF) – Dick Grace’s personal values and commitments have shaped not only his own life, but those of countless others worldwide. We met in recent years working with Family House a non profit near and dear to both myself and Dick and Anne Grace.
First as a United States Marine Corps Officer, and then as a senior Vice President for Smith Barney, Dick spent over thirty years cultivating his professional and financial success. According to Dick however, the real story of his success began when he turned his focus outward and embarked on a path of compassionate action.
In the mid 1970’s, Dick and his wife Ann started a small winery in the Napa Valley of California. Although the family began their venture with virtually no experience in wine making, The Insider’s Wine Line says, “the Cabernet Sauvignons that have evolved from the original one-acre vineyard on the property have now become legend, bringing at charity auctions more money than any other wine made in America.”
And it is charity that is at the heart of Grace’s personal transformation and the mission of the Grace Family Vineyards. Known as much for its mission statement, “Wine as a catalyst towards healing our planet,” as for its prized wine, Grace Family Vineyards raises over a million dollars annually for charitable causes. Among those who have benefited from the profits of the vineyard are organizations caring for children with cancer, pediatric AIDS organizations, services for abused women, and organizations serving the children of Tibet, the country Grace feels is his spiritual home. Most recently, the Grace’s have been involved in relief work directed towards Nepal where the devastating earthquake has altered the lives of millions of people. They have brought both aide and comfort to millions of Nepalese.
Grace is emphatic about his belief that donating money is only one third of the charitable equation. As he explains, “the other two thirds include personal involvement and personal commitment to raising others’ awareness of the need to act compassionately.”
Therefore, Grace volunteers at Mother Theresa’s hospitals in Kathmandu, at the homes of disabled persons, at children’s camps, and for a variety of other organizations alleviating the suffering of children and adults who are physically, emotionally, or financially disenfranchised. He also financially and personally supports a number of Buddhist causes including the Tibetan refugees in Katmandu, Nepal and Dharamsala, India, the monks at Shechen Monastery, and many Tibetans seeking both higher education and the opportunity to become productive world citizens.
Grace also commits a significant portion of his time and resources to raising awareness about the need to act compassionately. Grace uses every tour of his winery, every speaking engagement, and every possible personal encounter to share his stories and remind people that active participation in the lives of people in need can be more spiritually rewarding than inward-focused religious or meditative practice. Although his own spiritual path is centered in Buddhism, Grace focuses his practice on the universal importance of caring and compassionate action that unites all religions and spiritual teachings. We met at Grace Family Vineyard in St.Helena recently for our Foodie Chap chat. I discoverered a man who with his wife Anne walks the walk and is as proud (perhaps moreso) of his philanthropic accomplishments as he is of his wines. Dick and Anne Grace are a wine country couple on a mission – one to do good and they are far from done.
Enjoy an intimate conversation about philanthropy, spirituality and wine with a very special chap Dick Grace.
2014 Grace Family Vineyards,
Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
“The 2014 vintage is hallmarked by purity, freshness, and silkiness. The dry, warm winter led to an early season with a lighter set, slightly thinner skins, and moderate growing season. This resulted in a wine with incredible vibrancy, drive, complexity, and precision, while still having tannins sufficient for extended cellaring. The 2014 Grace has a beautiful nose of black currant, forest floor, clove, juniper, rose oil, and just a hint of bay leaf. There is incredible purity and drive in the mouth, with flavors of early blackberry, pipe tobacco, black licorice, and cedar framed by fresh acidity, silky tannins, and structure to age long term.” -Helen Keplinger Winemaker