Grace Estate Winery Review
Address: 5273 Mount Juliet Farm Crozet,Virginia 22932.
Phone Number: 434-823-1486
Tasting Hours: Wed-Sun 11:00-5:30 (11:00-8:00)
Region: Monticello AVA, Virginia
Reviewer: Anthony Marocco
Review Date: 8/17/2014
Reviewer: Anthony Marocco
For years, one of the larger growers in Crozet, Virginia was known by the name of Mount Juliet Farm. Winemakers throughout Virginia purchased grapes from Mount Juliet, who harvested close to 63 acres and over 14 varieties of grape. The estate sits nearly 550 acres of land – with 250 acres protected with deer fencing. This year marked the inaugural year of Mount Juliet Farm producing their own under the label of Grace Estate Winery with the help of winemaker Jake Busching. The name Grace Estate stemmed from owner John Grace of W.R. Grace & Company, a local chemical manufacturing outfit. Busching, a Minnesota native, began padding his winemaking knowledge under renowned vineyard manager Chris Hill while working at Jefferson Vineyards in the late 90s. From there, Busching went on to work for a handful of Virginia wineries before landing at Pollak under the winemaking leadership of Michael Shaps. Grace Estate held its grand opening this past spring at the estate’s main house – a gorgeous home that sits high on the hillside overlooking the vineyards and providing patrons with gorgeous views.
The construction of the new tasting room is currently underway in a nearby historical barn, but, during our visit, we were able to taste in the main house after passing through a white covered tent that was providing some cover for those who were enjoying the remaining bit of decent weather before Fall put its icy grip on the region. The tasting pourer had mentioned to us that Grace Estate currently produced about 2,000 cases per year while the remainder of the estate grapes are sold to local winemakers. When asked about the vineyard’s yield; I was stunned when I was told, after some back and forth amongst the staff, 4 tons per acre.
We ponied up $7 and tasted through seven wines – three whites, one rose, and three reds. The first wine tasted was the 2013 Viognier. The aromatics were very floral and gave off hints of pear fruit wading in rose water. The palate boasted very bright acidity, combining citrus zest and tropical fruits. As we dove into the reds, we were impressed with most of them beginning with the 2012 Cabernet Franc. This particular vintage included about 10% Petit Verdot for structure and boasted qualities of dark red berries and leather aromas while adding in sweet tobacco and light cherry undertones. The finish was full and round, but not completely dry. We moved onto the 2012 Le Gras Baril – a Bordeaux blend of 30% Malbec, 30% Petit Verdot, and 40% Cabernet Franc. This blend took my top vote with smooth cherry and spice box up front balanced throughout with firm tannins, toasty oak, and a rich finish. This is a must-try wine and our top pick at Grace Estate. We conclude with the 2012 Petit Verdot, which is aged in both French and American oak for 16 months and is ensconced in blueberry and blackberry compote that carries from nose to palate. During the mid-palate, bold leather and spice box swallow up the fruit, and the wine concludes with light cedar and oak with hints of baking spice – another very good wine.
Overall, Grace Estates is off to a great winemaking start as they finally turn the quality fruit they produce into their own offering. If you are looking for a nice retreat that you can immerse yourself in, in terms of being surrounded by gorgeous views and rolling vineyards, this is the place.