Looking for an authentic vineyard experience here in Kansas? Look no further than Grace Hill Winery. Located just 30 minutes north of Wichita, this family run vineyard is the perfect place to celebrate National Wine Day.
If you are looking for a personalized wine tasting tour where you meet in a casual setting and get to discuss wine with the owners, then Grace Hill Winery is the place for you. Jeff Sollo and his brother Brian run the day-to-day operations of the winery. Their passion for wine making is evident in everything they do.
Jeff shared how his parents, both in the medical profession, started the winery. His father, David Sollo, who is an anesthesiologist at Kansas Pain Specialist, bought 200 plants in the spring of 2004 and planted them in the pasture where the cows were primarily held. While these first vines produced leaves, they did little in producing grapes. He replanted the vines to a better location but found the birds were eating the grapes. Installing mesh netting kept the bird thievery to a minimum. Thirteen years later, the vineyard now has more than 4,500 plants spread over eleven acres. In 2016, they produced 50,000 bottles of wine. This wine is sold in surrounding area liquor stores, including Wichita, and they can ship to 37 states.
The tasting experience offers either a dry or sweet tasting choice. Or for those who are very adventurous, they can try the entire 14-bottle collection. Each wine features artwork done by a local artist. There are several labels revolving around the family’s animal collection which are also part of the vineyard workforce. Jeff’s English Bulldog, Georgia, comes to work with him every day. When he’s not helping with wine deliveries, he trots around the vines scaring away pests.
Another part of the tasting experience is the wine production tour. It starts with an overview of the vineyards where you can walk the rows of the season's harvests. The tour guide will spend time discussing the best grapes for producing wine in Kansas. Depending on the time of year, you may even be invited to pluck a few grapes and sample them straight from the vine. After returning from the vineyard, you'll head inside to visit the production area of the winery. You will see both the crusher-stemmer machines as well as the fermentation tanks.
From there, they will take you to the grapes final resting place in American Oak Barrels before the bottling process begins. For those lucky enough to ask, they will even bring out the wine thief to let you taste wines directly from the barrels.
During peak season, they host more than 200 people in a weekend and 40 events. If you are looking for a place to host your next event or wedding, this is truly a picturesque venue with your guests experiencing personalized tours and wine tastings. The event center is 2,000 square feet and holds up to 140 guests.
The largest event they host is the annual volunteer grape harvest. Held each Saturday in August and September, guests can volunteer for a Saturday to help harvest the grapes. This unique experience lasts two hours after which the vineyard hosts a lunch and free wine for all volunteers. Another large event is their “Build Your Own Wine Day” where they bring up three whites and three reds to let you mix your own wine. You can register for these events or see other events at gracehillwinery.com.
Whether you are celebrating National Wine Day or looking for the perfect Saturday activity, Grace Hill Winery is a must do experience.