Granite Heights Winery Profile
Written by Brian—Jun 6, 2016
There are a handful of relatively new Virginia wineries that I am very excited about. One of them is Granite Heights Winery in Fauquier County. They only became a commercial winery in 2008 and have only had a tasting room since 2012. It took no time for them to establish a reputation for high-quality wine and particularly their red blends. In 2015 Granite Heights wines won a gold, silver and bronze medal in the Governor’s Cup. This year they won three gold medals and one of those wines was included in the prestigious Governor’s Case. This may be a tough act to follow, but it does attest to the fact that they are doing something right.
Luke and Toni Kilyk purchased the Granite Heights property in 2007 and brought in no less an authority than Lucy Morton as a consultant. Lucy even lived for a time in the house that now contains the tasting room. So she was literally on site and accessible to Luke and Toni for an extended period of time. The result was 12 acres of perfectly sited, high-density vines that were propogated entirely from French-cerified clones. The vineyard is now producing extremely high-quality grapes and Granite Heights is bottling about 1000 cases annually and exclusively from estate fruit. There are plans to increase to as many as 2000 cases, but the goal will remain quality rather than quantity.
Luke works full time as an attorney and devotes a large percentage of his “free” time to winemaking and vineyard management. He made wine for many years as a hobby, but he does have an undergraduate degree in chemistry. That background is a common theme among producers, who have not trained and apprenticed as winemakers. What really sets Luke apart is his heightened level passion for every aspect of winemaking. When he speaks about his work, you can hear it in his voice. It is an unrestrained enthusiasm that translates into world-class wine.
When I arrived at Granite Heights, Toni was in the tasting room. As I was sampling the first pour, Luke stopped in as well. He sat with me for quite some time talking and doling out wine. He stepped me through each of the offerings on the regular tasting menu and then poured a couple others. So I was able to sample two of the three Governor’s Case wines along with the six others that rounded out the lineup.
I have to say that there was not a marginal wine on the tasting menu. We started with a Petit Manseng, a Chardonnay and a Rosé. All were done in stainless steel and they were all perfectly balanced and lovely wines. I have to say, however, that the real story is the red blends. They are truly Luke’s super power.
The entire Granite Heights experience is first rate. The tasting room contains a series of tables, so patrons are seated for their tasting. The staff is knowledgeable and there is no rushing patrons through the offerings. Guests tended to linger and many purchased a bottle, so they could linger amid the shade trees that surround the farm pond. Of course, you should not take my word for any of this. I am obviously a fan, but do not be swayed by that. You need to stop in and see for yourself. So start formulating your excuse, bow out of some other obligation and make the drive. After you do, please let me know what you think.