Monday, March 12, 2012

February Newsletter
Despite 2012 being a leap year, February sure flew by quickly at Grace Hill Winery. We had a wonderfully busy month, full of vineyard work, parties, and of course, wine!

February is when we do a lot of our pruning and fertilizing in order to get the vines ready to produce the highest quality grapes possible. Generally, it’s not our favorite job as we’re still mired in winter; however, with the wonderful weather we’ve been having this year, it’s been such a blast to be out in the vineyard that we’ve been nearly unable to get winemaker Dave to stop.
The New Guy

Due to our high maintenance vineyard, and the work to be done getting the 2011 wines ready to bottle, we are happy to announce that we have hired a new employee! Ben Gaeddert has all the qualities we were looking for: enthusiastic about wine, familiar with Kansas grapes, and capable of putting up with the Sollo family for extended periods of time. Ben has been helping out with winemaking and vineyard management, and will occasionally work in our tasting room. We’re happy to have him!
Coming Soon

With Dave and Ben working in the vineyard, Jeff and Brian have been working very hard to get our sweet wines ready for bottling. We are currently out of Peckerhead Red, and only have a few bottles of Chloe’s Cuvee left. However, with any luck we should have both bottled and ready to drink very soon! We will be installing our new chilling system in early March. Engineers are welcome to come out and help.
These little ones will be roaming the estate soon, too!

The Sommeliers

Earlier this month, our manager of marketing Jeff Sollo and tasting room manager Lauren Taylor attended classes in Denver and are now certified sommeliers. They learned about wine regions throughout the world, and can now tell you exactly what you taste when you sample a wine.
Barrels for Sale

We currently have two 59 gallon used barrels that we have retired and are now available for purchase for $100.

Our tasting room is open from noon-5 on Saturdays for free tastings and tours. We hope to see you out here soon!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Have you met Brian yet?
Brian is the newest member of the Sollo family to join the winery, and he is already proving himself a valuable addition to the team.
He came back to join us in late July, just in time for harvest. I'm not sure it was the best timing from his perspective, but it certainly was from ours! However, we were so busy trying to get everything done that we didn't make any big announcements- we just put him to work.
I hadn't realized how remiss we had been until the fall release party last Friday, when multiple people asked who he was, and said they didn't realize we had a second son. Sorry, Brian!
Anyway, he is here and you will probably be seeing him around. His official title is business manager, which so far means that he gets to take over a lot of the bookkeeping from Natalie. We are also looking forward to him working on a lot of our business processes, to try to streamline things and make them work better. He had already shown that he has lots of good ideas about how to make things work better in the tasting room. And we hope he puts his econ degree to good use in some long range planning for us.
Harvest was pretty crazy this year, and we are glad to have it behind us. The extreme drought and record setting heat was challenging. We irrigated constantly (still are, since the heat has let up but the rains haven't come). The hard winter had already cut back the fruit quantity by destroying the primary buds on several of our varieties. Then the heat stress forced us to harvest sooner than we wanted to, in order to protect the plants for future years. The bird pressure this year was incredible, as there was so little other food out there, so those growers that didn't net lost almost all their crops. Ours were netted, and we had the propane cannon going, but we still lost a lot. And the grapes we hoped to get from other Kansas growers just weren't there like we had planned on.
The good news is that although the harvest was light in quantity, it was excellent in quality. Dave is very excited by the way the wines taste even at this very young stage. And the wines we have for sale get better every year, so we remain optimistic that we will continue to be able to provide excellent wines from Kansas!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Heat and more heat

So much has happened since the last post. The event center is done, the fruit is set, and now we are just trying to survive. The record heat in the area has made everything a challenge, and the grapes are definitely showing signs of stress.
We knew that the harvest would be smaller this year as the extreme cold snap last winter hurt some of the fruiting buds. But we never expected the heat and the drought this summer would be so extreme. We haven't had measurable rainfall for weeks, and day after day the temperature hits triple digits. Today it hit 110, and was still 100 at 9 pm. You just can't water enough for that.
So we think harvest will be early and we just hope there is some fruit left. Dave thinks we may need to drop some or harvest early just to protect the plants.
Pray for rain!!!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Spring is finally here!

OK, so I sort of abandoned this blog for awhile- but I'm back! Last fall by the end of harvest, there just wasn't much left for me to say, though there still was a lot going on. But it is finally spring, and with the warm weather returns energy and enthusiasm and all that. Besides, there is so much going on now that it deserves comment.
If I knew what I was doing, I would arrange the pictures better, but no. So there you have it.
Right now at the winery we have finished pruning, except for a few stray plants in the garden. That is a huge relief! (Dave's back is grateful too.) Thanks to all the friends who came out to help- you know who you are.
We will have our last planting day on Saturday. (But didn't I say that 2 years ago?) We are putting in 120 Noiret, because Dave has decided they have great red wine potential in this climate. Planting is always a lot of fun, because of the great crew that comes out to help, proving literally again that many hands make light work. This year's crew ranges from very experienced to novice, but I am confident it will go well (especially if the weather cooperates).
The new building is coming along rapidly too, though the days are flying so I know it won't be done as quickly as I would wish. We have a great builder, who works with a super team, always thinking of better ways to do things. The view over the vineyard is going to be absolutely lovely. We can't wait to show it off!
Now if we could just find time to get the new wines bottled...

Monday, March 7, 2011

February Newsletter

Grace Hill Winery NewsletterFebruary 2011

February Recap

Event Center ConstructionConstruction continues on the Grace Hill Winery Event Center and Patio! As you can see from the picture, the foundation is mostly laid, the plumbing is almost done, and we are hoping to pour the floor next week! We have been receiving a lot of interest in the new addition thanks to a feature in the Wichita Eagle, which you can read by clicking here.

Also during February we saw the completion of 3 new labels! The first two are Peckerhead Red, a sweet red, and Eclipse, our first dessert wine, and are displayed in all their glory at end of this paragraph. We also have developed our version of a house wine, called simply "Party Wine" that we can customize for your party at the winery as well as add sweetness for your desired taste! Look for all of these wines to debut at the Spring Release Party, which we are planning to host sometime in May.

Peckerhead Red Label

Eclipse Label

Lastly, during February we finally got back to work in the vineyard with the start of pruning! Pruning basically involves going through every vine in the vineyard and cutting back its branches in order to ensure orderly growth in the year to come. It can be cold and monotonous at times, but it's very necessary, and since we got some mechanical pruners this year it's been a lot more fun, and still accident free.


March: Spring Draws Ever Closer

March will be a pretty quiet month at Grace Hill, as it will largely be spent in the vineyard and the cellar. Pruning will continue its onward march toward completion, needing to be finished by the time buds begin to blossom in early April. When not giving the vines their pre-Spring haircuts, we will be in the cellar blending and bottling our 2010 versions of Prairie Pink, Chloe's Cuvee, and Peckerhead Red, getting them ready for their official release in May. And while we are hard at work on the wines, construction will continue on the event center, getting it ready for a ribbon cutting sometime in May. These are exciting times at Grace Hill Winery!

If you are looking for some Grace Hill Wine but can't make it out to Whitewater, we do have a limited selection in Wichita, Newton, Andover and Derby at these fine restaurants and retailers:

- ABC Liquor at Central and Woodlawn, 21st and Woodlawn, and 21st and Tyler,

- Jacobs Liquor Exchange East and West

- Groves Liquor at Kellogg and Webb.

- Beyond Napa in Old Town Square

- Newton Discount Liquor on Washington Street

- Hills Retail Liquor at 1st and Meridian in Newton

- Auburn Spirits at Maple and 135th

- Rolling Hills Wine and Spirits at Maple and Maize

- Flint Hills Wine and Spirits at Kellogg and Andover Road

- K&S Liquors at Rock and Madison in Derby

- R&J Liquor at Douglas and Hillside

- Beyond Napa Private Cellars in El Dorado

- Anderson Liquor in Newton

- Hangar One Steakhouse on Kellogg near the Airport

- The Anchor - Douglas and Washington in Downtown Wichita

Can't get enough of the goings on at Grace Hill Winery? Follow us on Facebookwhere we upload all of our pictures!

Thanks again for all your support!


David and Natalie Sollo
Jeff Sollo

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Event Center Ground Breaking

The Grace Hill Winery Blog has officially crossed over to Vlog status as well! Check out the first video documenting the ground breaking for the Grace Hill Winery Events Center!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Letter To The Editor at the Wichita Eagle

After seeing Barefoot Cellars (a California Wine) served at Governor Brownback's Inauguration, Grace Hill President Dave Sollo decided to take up a letter writing campaign. Below is the full version of a letter he sent to the Wichita Eagle. An abbreviated version was published in the Eagle today.

To Whom It May Concern:

I read with dismay the report from Governor Brownback’s Inaugural Ball that Barefoot Cellars California table wine was served there. We have a new governor, but we have the same poor choice being made for wine in Topeka. At a time when Kansas is trying to encourage job growth, agritourism, and rural development, why would any non-Kansas wine be served in any official Kansas governmental function?

I just returned from the Kansas Grape Growers and Winemakers Association Annual Meeting, and I can assure wine drinkers that Kansas does indeed produce some excellent wines. The wine industry is growing steadily with over 20 wineries now licensed in the state. Many other people interested in viticulture are putting in small vineyards and giving them personal hands-on care that is not found in many other vineyards across the country. The industry is poised for rapid growth that will add to the ambience and culture of our state.

I learned this weekend that Iowa has nearly 100 wineries comprising 5.75% of wine sales in the state. I also learned that Missouri does even better with 8.0% of wine sales coming from their very own wineries. This is real economic clout providing jobs and a healthy stream of tax revenue.

Unfortunately, our state has a history of neglecting the wine industry. Even our very own Kansas State Fair allows for the sale of Barefoot Cellars California table wine in the same building that is supposed to promote Kansas wines. Is not the Kansas State Fair about Kansas? I bet the California State Fair doesn’t serve Kansas wines there. Barefoot Cellars California table wine has no place at our state fair and no place at the Kansas Governor’s Inauguration.

As Wichitans, we support our local businesses. We buy local sweet corn, local peaches, local blackberries, local meats and so forth. Dollars spent on products raised here are important to building a strong economy and a healthy lifestyle. Next time you see the governor, thank him for his service, but also please remind him to raise a glass of Kansas wine the next time he throws a party. And if he’s still listening, you might remind him to get the California wine out of the Kansas State Fair too.

David Sollo

Grace Hill Winery

Vice President of the Kansas Grape Growers and Winemakers Association