Are you looking for a relaxing winery to get away from the craziness that is DC/DC suburbs for a few hours? Granite Heights Winery may be the perfect solution for you. Located in the mountains about an hour away from DC, Granite Heights (GH) is a serene and calm environment. It felt like another world from DC, as few people were there, it was quiet, and you could savor the wine without feeling rushed.
When arriving at the winery, you will see a home, small cottage, and a lot of land and vineyards. As of right now, with the exception of their Petit Manseng, all of GH’s grapes are grown on the property. If it weren’t for the signs at the entrance, I would have thought that I was trespassing on someone’s home. However, that is part of GH’s appeal. They treat you like family.
In fact, when you go into the tasting room, they have everything set up like home. Tasting areas are set up with country cottage decor in a living room, a study, and a dining room. I had my tasting in the study. I was surrounded by a gorgeous fireplace, volumes and volumes of leather-bound books, bar stools/bar tables, and beautiful portraits. Toni, one of the owners of the winery, came to give me a little history of the winery, as well as the tasting. The owners, husband and wife team Luke and Toni Kilyk, tend to every part of the growing/harvesting/bottling process. They have full time jobs outside of their winemaking, but they still find the time and passion to make, manage, and produce some fantastic wines. While they have been making wine for 10 years, they only just opened their tasting room a few years ago with their first vintage.
The tasting room got somewhat busy when I arrived, but Toni made sure that everyone was taken care of. She knew which wine everyone was on, described the wine, and answered any questions that she was given. She handled the craze rather calmly, which was nice because no taster wants to feel rushed when they are trying wines. For $8, you are able to try seven wines. Oyster crackers are given to cleanse your palate, as is a pitcher of water. At the tasting, I tried three whites, one Rosé, and three reds. They were:
- 2014 Petit Manseng: Aged in stainless steel, this wine was very crisp, sweet, and dry. I got a lot of pineapple and apple. At first, the wine tasted like apple juice, but the dryness of the wine lessened the tartness. This would be great with a spicy stir-fry. Like I said before, all of the grapes except the Petit Manseng are grown on Granite Height’s property, however, that is only until next year. They are about to plant these grapes in their vineyards!
- Shadow White: Named after their German Shepherd that passed. this white blend is a mix of Chardonnay and Petit Manseng. While part of the blend was malolactic fermented (what gives many buttery characteristics to a wine), I didn’t get much of a creamy body, but more of a crisp one. There was a lot of green apple, honey, and pear. A grilled chicken salad is just the ticket with this wine.
- 2014 Chardonnay: This chardonnay was one unlike any other that I have had before. In fact, had I not been told that it was Chardonnay, I would have thought that it was a Riesling! So many zesty and citrusy flavors. There were no creamy notes in the wine at all. This would be amazing with a vegetable or tofu curry!
- 2016 Rosé: Blend of Barbera, Cab Sav, Merlot, Cab Franc, Petit Verdot, Dornfelder(!), and Petit Manseng. What an interesting blend of grapes! With some heavy grapes being used to make this Rosé, it was rather light. Pineapple, cherry, and strawberry flavors appeared on the palate. I would pair this with garlic shrimp kabobs.
- 2011 Evening Serenade: 39% Merlot, 11% Cab Franc, 38% Cab Sav, 12% Petit Verdot. Oozing with oaky spice and cherry jam, I kept thinking about lasagna or marinara sauce with this wine. With a spicier aftertaste than fruity, it can withstand the acidity of tomato based sauces.
- 2013 Lomax Reserve: 55% Merlot, 45% Cab Sav. This wine was so flavorful! With a medium body and a gorgeous, dark garnet color, I tasted a lot of currant, cola, white pepper, and licorice. To me, this wine reminded me of the first chilly night of fall. Some kind of crockpot chili is simmering as you break out the flannel blanket. This wine is meant for that night.
- 2012 Merlot. Granite Heights had just enough Merlot after blending it in the previous two blends to divide them into half size bottles for sale. There was plum and currant on the nose, along with some vanilla and cinnamon. On the palate, I tasted these flavors as well as a little bit of menthol. This would be such a great pairing with a charcuterie plate.
Other than the wine, what I loved most about Granite Heights was the property. There is a pond, a vast amount of vineyards, and an adorable picnic area. Mr. Grape Pairings brought his binoculars and went birding for the hour or so that we sat outside (He wanted to let you know that he saw an Eastern Meadowlark and an Orchard Oriole…both lifers!).
Picnics are allowed, so long as your eat them outside. The area is both child and dog friendly, but other than an adorable newborn, we saw no children or dogs. Because Toni and Luke both work full time AND tend to the vineyards/wine (how in the world do they do it all?!), tastings are only open Fridays from 1-6pm, and Saturdays/Sundays from 12-5. For more information, go to their website, Facebook, or Instagram for more information. As always, let me know if you go and what you thought!