In this post we share our experiences at three wineries that we visited within the past month. It includes one newbie, too!
Granite Heights Winery: Always a treat to visit Luke and Toni at Granite Heights. We enjoyed the crisp 2012 Chardonnay with its characteristics of pear and citrus with a flinty finish. Look out for the 2013 Petit Manseng that is a blend of 60% malolactic fermented wine and 40% non-malolactic fermented wine. Like Mae West, it is round, full-bodied and sensual. Rich tropical fruit notes with a creamy mouth feel should make this one a fine pairing with Thanksgiving dinner if turkey and gravy are on the menu. Of the red wines, the 2010 Cabernet Franc captured our attention with its smoky nose and notes of blackberry, leather and anise. It presented quite a lengthy finish to boot. Buy now and serve later—it is certainly age-worthy.
Magnolia Vineyards: And this is the newbie. This winery recently opened to the public, and we had a chance to visit here with our friends, Jill and Michael. Glenn and Tina Marchione operate this small winery that currently has four acres planted in vines. Doug Fabbioli serves as wine consultant; however, Tina Marchione is full time winemaker. We gave our nods to the 2012 vintages including the 2012 Black Walnut White made from Traminette grapes. We also enjoyed the 2012 Cabernet Franc Reserve with its notes of seed berries, dried herbs, and spice. It was blended with Cabernet Sauvignon (10%) and Merlot (5%). Grilled beef should pair well with this one. In fact, we enjoyed this one so much that we all shared a bottle after our tasting!
Morais Vineyards and Winery: It had been over a year since our last visit to Morais; needless to say, all wines that we tasted were new to our palates. Candace, our tasting associate, skillfully guided us through our tasting of wines. It was a rainy yet warm day, and our summer taste buds preferred the 2012 Battlefield Green, a white wine done in the Vinho Verde style. This is a blend of Albarino and Vidal Blanc grapes and presented notes of green apple, citrus, and freshly cut grass. Paul enjoyed the light-bodied 2013 Merlot with its bright cherry nose and elements of dried herbs and sweet tobacco. I found the cherry wine to be the most intriguing. This dessert wine was made with morello cherries; it was aged in stainless steel. In the tasting room, this tasty treat is served inside of a chocolate cup! Decadent indeed! I made certain to purchase a bottle to serve with a favorite chocolate dessert.
We last visited Granite Heights Orchard and Winery last summer and were impressed with the winemaking philosophy of winemakers and owners Luke and Toni Kilyk. We were also pleased with the wines that we tasted. This time around we noted a continued dedication to excellent winemaking, vineyard management and tasting room experiences.
Two new white wines were added on the tasting menu since our last visit, and these included a crisp 2012 Chardonnay that was fermented and aged in stainless steel barrels. Apple, pear and citrus elements prevailed, and its refreshing acidity made it an easy sipper. The 2011 Petit Manseng was likewise fermented and aged in stainless steel barrels with no malolactic fermentation. We noted ripe tropical fruit and pear characteristics with a fuller mouth feel than the Chardonnay. Residual sugar of around .5% elevated the fruit flavors without the cloying sweetness.
Two new red wines were also released this year, and these included my favorite, the 2009 Evening Serenade and Paul’s fave the 2009 End of the Road. The 2009 Evening Serenade is a blend of Merlot (84%) and Cabernet Franc (16%) and presented a smoky nose with flavors dark cherry and blackberry. End of the Road is a blend of Cabernet Franc (84%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (16%); Paul detected a smoky nose with notes of sweet tobacco; currants and plum flavors were also appreciated. Of course, it is still summer, and red wine drinkers may be more inclined to enjoy a rose instead. The 2012 Rose is dry (yay!) and made from Merlot grapes; nice strawberry and melon flavors and a crisp finish made for an enjoyable wine.
As readers can tell, our visit at Granite Heights began in the tasting room, and we were treated to a seated tasting. We’ve already reported on the tasteful, no-frill tasting room, and a knowledgeable tasting educator delivered an excellent tasting experience. We also got to chat with Luke and Toni Kilyk who graciously answered our questions and gave us a tour of the facility. Luke and Toni remain committed to producing wine and sharing it with customers in a quaint and intimate atmosphere. We tasted the commitment to quality winemaking, and we can attest to the consistent climate control of the barrel room as well as its immaculate cleanliness. The Kilyks have even invested in a bottling machine to insure quality control up to the final bottling. Of course, Virginia’s climate raises many challenges in the vineyard, and Luke informed us that a wine machine would be installed in the vineyard to minimize frost damage. New vines will also be planted and these include more Merlot as well as Vermentino, a white grape that is not widely planted in Virginia.
Granite Heights currently produces 900 cases of wine, and while case production may increase a bit over time, the Kilyks remain steadfast in their commitment to producing limited quantities of quality wines. The tasting experience will likewise remain wine-focused, and there are no plans to build an expansive tasting room. Weddings, bridal parties, and a dog park? These are also not part of the plan.
We applaud Luke and Toni Kilyk’s continued dedication to excellent wine making especially at a time when more and more newer wineries seem to place emphasis on themselves as events facilities or party destinations. We can gladly report that this is not the case at Granite Heights Orchard and Winery, and the results can be tasted in the wine glass. The wines continue to the reason to return to Granite Heights Orchard and Winery.
We purchased bottles of our favorite Granite Heights wines, and we will return very soon. Please plan to visit Luke and Toni Kilyk at Granite Heights Orchard and Winery, and mention that Virginia Wine Time sent you.
I have over 100 bottles of wine on my wine racks. Probably 80% of it is red wine. And probably 98% of it is Virginia wine. There are always lots of choices when it comes to picking out a red dinner wine. Recently we decided to have sirloin steaks and wild rice for dinner. But what red wine would we select? We settled on the 2008 Lomax Reserve Red from Granite Heights Vineyard.
The 2008 Lomax Reserve Red is a blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and cabernet franc. It’s aged in American oak for eleven months. It’s named after a neighbor of Granite Heights Vineyard. Once we poured a glass and paired it with our meal, we realized it was the perfect selection. We noted the bright fruit, the smooth ending and that it was very approachable. It reminded me of the smooth 2008 reds that I have come to enjoy. I probably could have kept this on the rack a little longer but I do so enjoy my smooth 2008 reds that I couldn’t let this one sit any longer. If you haven’t made it out to Granite Heights yet, plan a trip soon. And tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!
A few weeks ago we were in the Warrenton area visiting Gray Ghost to pick up some wine when we decided we would visit a few new wineries in the area. Granite Heights Orchard and Winery and Morais Vineyards and Winery are both relatively are new and it was time for us to pay them a visit. We are now up to 144 wineries visited!
Granite Heights – Luke and Toni Kilyk are hands on owners. They do everything on their land from the landscaping to the vineyard management. They have worked with Lucie Morton, who lived on the farm, to set up the vineyards and have worked with wine consultants over the years. They want to make high quality wine and let the wine speak for itself. On their tasting sheets they don’t mention what you should smell or taste. They want tasters to come to their own conclusions. And we did just that.
On the day we visited they had five wines for tasting. We enjoyed them all but a few did stand out as our favorites. Warren enjoyed the 2008 Evening Serenade. It’s a blend of 52% Cabernet Franc, 40% Merlot, and 8% Cabernet Sauvignon. Warren noted raspberry, blueberry, and tobacco on the nose. He noted similar flavors in the mouth as well as cedar. While I enjoyed this one as well, I preferred the 2008 Lomax Reserve. It’s a blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, and 10% Cabernet Franc. My notes included raspberry, plum, tobacco, some pepper, decent fruit, and caramel/toffee.
During our tasting we had a chance to talk with the owners and found out more about the winery, the farm, and their winemaking ideas. They also told us all about their jams and honey. Granite Heights is small winery producing high quality wines. We’re sure you’ll find something you enjoy.
Morais Vineyards – After our visit to Granite Heights we headed on down the road to visit Morais Vineyards. You can’t miss it. It’s a massive concrete structure inspired by buildings in Portugal. The owners are Portuguese. The building was constructed with events in mind. There are huge areas that would accommodate weddings and the like. They have a beautiful tasting bar with lots of space for groups for tastings.
The day we visited they had a full list of wines to taste…six to be exact. Currently they produce small quantities of their wines with hopes to expand in the future. They also have a relatively new wine maker who hopes to put his mark on the 2011 vintage. As with the previous winery, there were some wines that stood out at Morais for us. We both liked the Select White Wine. It’s made with the Rkatsitelli grape. We noticed citrus, grapefruit and an interesting spritz. We thought this one would make a nice sipper for a warm summer day. The Red Select also got our attention. It’s a blend of merlot and cabernet franc. We noted smoke, pepper, dried herb, and blackberry. It’s aged for two years in French oak barrels. We thought this one was a good food wine.
Both Granite Heights and Morais are new wineries. They have room to grow and high hopes for the future. We think we’ll be tasting wines from them both for years to come. If you haven’t visited either Granite Heights or Morais, plan a trip soon. And be sure to tell them Virginia Wine Time sent you!