The Grape Escape in Downtown Redding
● By Melissa Gulden
Destined for Grapeness
By Melissa Gulden
Photo by Jeannine Hendrickson
Spend a few minutes chatting with owner Jim Boisselle and it’s easy to see why people keep coming back to The Grape Escape. But however warm and witty his banter, that is only part of the charm of this downtown wine-tasting room.
Right next door to the historic Cascade Theatre, The Grape Escape is one of those businesses that people often say Redding needs more of. Not a restaurant, not quite a bar, it’s where you go when you want to catch up with friends over a nice glass of wine.
“It’s a very friendly place,” says Boisselle. “People don’t seem to cultivate friendships like they used to, and here we have all types of customers – young and old – striking up conversation and making connections.”
Boisselle has been a businessman in Redding for more than four decades as the owner of Heritage Woodworking, but in 2011 he decided to turn his passion for wine into a “second job.” But ask Boisselle if he considers The Grape Escape a job and he merely laughs
and shrugs. “This isn’t a job. I already have a job. Getting paid to drink wine with your friends – what could be better than that?”
Boisselle has always liked wine, but he says that wasn’t the point of The Grape Escape. He wanted this business to be different. Boisselle buys the wines directly from wineries, which allows him to serve wines not often found in the North State, from counties such as Almador, Mendocino, Sonoma and San Luis Obispo. He also serves local wines, including Lone Creek, Vaquero, Alger and Bertagna Son Kissed Vineyards. The wine selection is fluid and the tasting menu changes every other week so the nearly 100 wines they serve can rotate. Boisselle says the best way to sample numerous wines is by ordering flights, which is also how he can get the best idea of a customer’s palette, and most people end up purchasing bottles to take home. The Grape Escape also offers a Wine Club where every other month, four wines are hand selected for each customer at a 20 percent savings.
Boisselle says most wine customers are savvy, and this way they get wine from some of the best appellations in California.
Boisselle says he would like to reach more people, have them experience good wine. “I’ve barely touched the surface on people who like wine,” he says. Word of mouth is huge in this business, and so is foot traffic, which he hopes to increase now. The Grape Escape has been downtown since 2011, but only in its current location since June of 2015. Boisselle loves being in the heart of downtown, and has set up patio seating so people can enjoy balmy summer evenings. Boisselle describes his business as “event driven,” and hosts events such as live music every Saturday, open-mic nights, and even tastings from some winemakers themselves. “Escape to the Grape,” Boisselle says – the idea is to escape from the everyday. “People come in to relax and enjoy wine in a very friendly place. When customers say they can’t wait to return, I know I’ve been successful, and that’s what it’s about.”
And for this wine lover/cabinetmaker, that’s all he can really ask for. “It’s all about good wine and good conversation,” Boisselle says. “I like to say we’re saving the world, one glass at a time.”
The Grape Escape
1747 Market St., Redding
Hours: Wednesday and Thursday, 4:30-8:30 pm;
Friday, 4:30-10 pm, Saturday, 5:30-10 pm