High atop a ridge in the "Northwest Quadrant" of the Monticello AVA (near Crozet and White Hall) lies Grace Estate Vineyard, which opened last year with great fanfare and support of its winemaker, well-known Virginia vineyard presence Jake Busching. Having perfected his winemaking craft at nearby Horton Vineyards, Keswick Vineyards, and most recently Pollak, Busching has been instrumental in advancing the Commonwealth's reputation for high quality red wines. Grace Estate proudly spotlights Busching on their website and at the winery, with the vow to allow the winemaker to experiment with unusual varietals.
A short drive from White Hall Vineyards, Stinson Vineyards, and King Family Vineyards, Grace Estate's long driveway transports you to a hilltop estate with a vast view of the valley and mountains. The tasting room is located on the lower level of the estate itself, in a wine cellar-like setting that's alternately formal and intimate. Like so many other wineries in the area, Grace Estate is a popular wedding destination, with ample land for tables and tents.
We were expecting great things with the wine, despite the young age of the winery. The vintages did not disappoint. The Chardonnay, albeit a bit on the oaky side, had just the right amount of buttery finish that meshed nicely with the crispness. The Vigonier is aged in steel and offer notes of fig. Le Gras Baril was our favorite, a red blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot. And Jake has crafted a Tannat, a lot less pricey than other Tannats in the state, medium bodied and perfect for cold months.
Finally, a word about "33." Two years ago, before Grace Estate opened its doors to the public, a collaborative effort of winemakers from Veritas, King Family Vineyards and Busching led to "3," which originally was a blend of 33% each of Cab Franc, Merlot, and Petit Verdot. It was priced at $33.33. This time around, the "3" collaboration has led to a white blend of Viognier, Chardonnay, and Petit Manseng, also priced at $33.33, and absolutely delicious with notes of lemongrass and faint butterscotch. But hurry, as this vintage will not last long on their shelves.
The owners and the blogmasters invite you to spend a fall weekend visiting the Northwest Quadrant of the Monticello AVA, and be sure to visit Grace Estate, which appears on the winery map but doesn't currently have highway signs. Look out for it!
Grace Estate Winery
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