After Arlington County, the smallest county (in geographical area) in the Commonwealth is Greene County, wedged between Orange County, Madison County, and Albemarle County, north of Charlottesville. For those familiar with the Virginia winery scene, Stone Mountain Vineyards, the highest vineyards and tasting room (1700 feet above sea level) in the state, is located in Greene County, offering a spectacular view of the east from the Blue Ridge mountains. Not far from Stone Mountain is a vineyard that's been growing grapes for Stone Mountain (and other nearby wineries) since 1994: Kilaurwen Winery.
The name sounds Celtic, but the winery is actually named after the three daughters of the owners (Kimberlee, Laura and Wendy). Open as a tasting room since 2012, the wines here are complex (the reds), fruit forward (the whites), and tasty; the winemaker has learned from the masters of the area, including Dennis Horton, Luca Paschina, and the late Chris Breiner of Stone Mountain. The tasting room, albeit rather sparse (the owners have been spending most of their free time tending to the grapes and maintaining their eye and soul-pleasing property that surrounds the tasting room), lends itself to intimate tastings with the husband and wife owners.
Cab Franc rules supreme here for the reds; currently Kilaurwen offers three: 2009 vintage and two 2010 (regular and reserve). Each are unique due to the growing years and the aging process. We preferred the regular 2010, bold but smooth and delicious, with notes of vanilla and cinammon. Whites were also well balanced; currently they offer an off-dry (nearly totally dry) Riesling and an award winning table white. Prices are perfect; not one bottle over $20, which unfortunately is becoming less common, even in the winery packed Monticello AVA.
There are no highway signs (yet), however with the help of a good map and/or GPS, the winery is an easy trek to or from Stone Mountain or Early Mountain Vineyards, the winery AOL mogul Steve Case took over from the Sweely family last year. Kilaurwen's property is vast; a path cuts through a dense patch of forest that leads up a hill to the vineyards, which are sloping, ensuring proper drainage. Currently no plans are in the works for live bands or weddings and events; that is music to the ears of anyone wanting a true Virginia wine getaway from noise and the stress that goes with noise.
Check out our short video and be sure to visit Kilaurwen Winery this summer, which will make for a rather surreal visit with the 17 year cicadas buzzing like an orchestra: