Grace Estate Winery, formerly Mt. Juliet Vineyards which sold high quality fruit to wineries around the state, will open today as a bonded Virginia winery. Under the direction of Jake Busching, formerly of Pollak Vineyards in nearby Afton, the winery will offer 100% estate-grown wines.
Located on Rt. 810 just south of White Hall on the road towards Crozet, Grace Estate Winery had under previous management built a reputation for its high-quality fruit from the 60-acre Mt. Juliet Vineyard which was sold state-wide and which was often referenced as the vineyard source on various winery labels.
Busching says he is proud of having built his professional reputation in the Monticello AVA and wants to support his colleagues in the area by dedicating whatever fruit he does not use for Grace Estate wines to be made available exclusively to other wineries in the Monticello AVA.
Wines on offer at the opening will include a 2012 viognier, the white “Three” blend, a collaborative effort with colleagues Matthieu Finot and Emily Pelton, featuring a blend of petit manseng, chardonnay and viognier; a 2011 tannat, a 2010 cabernet sauvignon, and a fun white blend called “Le Gras Cuvee”, 2010.
The tasting room is in an enclosed extension off the winery, a converted barn, keeping the atmosphere understated. Aside from the breathtaking views of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the north and the vineyards below, the winery boasts the most unique design feature I’ve seen yet: an empty dairy farm silo with gravel on the floor, three benches, and open sky at the top, a very relaxing zen atmosphere of empty/full.
The estate has a Tuscan villa where private events and weddings will be held. The tasting room will be open Thursday-Sunday from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. For more information, visit www.graceestatewinery.com or call 434-823-5014.
Tasting Notes: Grace Estate Winery 4/18/13 (incomplete). All wines estate bottled.
2012 Viognier, Monticello
Nose: orange blossom, with solid orange/citrus fruits on the palate: orange, tangerine, kumquat. Bright, fresh, long finish with clean minerality. Not too heavy on the palate or perfumed on the nose, and with crisp acidity; a real winner.
2012 “3″ (white) petit manseng, viognier, chardonnay.
A collaborative blend between three Monticello winemakers (Emily Pelton, Matthieu Finot and Jake Busching), this is the second year of a white version of the meritage blend they started in the 2009 vintage. The wine is complex and elegant, still young and evolving. There is impressive balance of fruit and texture, medium weight, good depth of flavor and texture and a fine fresh finish. Stylish, this wine will come together and really rock by late summer.
Le Gras Cuvee 2010
An eclectic blend begun by previous winemakers and finished by Busching, this is a big, fun and juicy wine with lots of fruit, moderate oak and a hefty palate weight from lees stirring. It is also a blend of chardonnay, viognier and petit manseng. On the palate, it is round, smooth, juicy and easy to quaff; a great sipping wine but versatile for a lot of foods as well.
Tannat 2011:for the lousy quality of the vintage, an impressive red wine. Attractive dark ruby color followed by intriguing aromas; clean earth, black fruits and toasty oak. On the palate, dark and earthy but surprisingly light tannins, drinks more like a cabernet franc. No green veggies, a great warm weather red.
Cabernet Sauvignon 2010: Nose: smoky/oaky, but palate is very different, much fruitier and fresher. Ripe cassis fruit, juicy, lively and clean fresh finish, fun and quaffable.