Celebrating 30 Years! 1994 - 2024
A family owned and operated winery, Gray Ghost Vineyards is the dream turned reality for Al and Cheryl Kellert. A chemistry major in college, Al was first introduced to winemaking by a college professor who assisted him in his first fermentation experiment in 1969. Not long after, he met and married Cheryl, and a career transfer landed them in Virginia amidst the beginning of what would soon become the burgeoning wine industry in the state.
Years of studying, touring and tasting at wineries, while growing grapes and making homemade wine in their Washington, D.C. suburban backyard, led Al and Cheryl to pursue their dream in earnest. After two-years of searching for the perfect grape growing location, the Kellerts bought property in Rappahannock County. Amissville proved to be the ideal location for their venture as the former apple orchard possessed complex, fertile soils, while the Blue Ridge Mountains directly west helped shield a delicate crop from damaging rains.
The Kellerts moved in 1986 along with each of the meticulously transplanted 160 vines from their Northern Virginia neighborhood. The plantings continued for a number of years and Gray Ghost currently cultivates over 8,000 vines on 13 acres with such varieties as Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Riesling, Vidal Blanc and Seyval Blanc.
While perfecting their winemaking techniques and renovating a 13 stall horse stable into a winery, Al and Cheryl sold their grapes to surrounding wineries. In 1993 the Kellerts retained their entire crop and thus the first vintage of Gray Ghost wines was born. And after years of work gutting and reconstructing the stable themselves, the winery opened in July of 1994. Subsequent vineyard and winery enhancements have included securing more property, an addition which houses an underground barrel room, renovations to the original winery structure and most recently an expanded tasting room.
But from the beginning, the Kellerts focus has been on producing the highest quality wines possible. And the results are evident. Gray Ghost wines are produced by using the gentlest care possible beginning in the vineyard and through the winemaking process. Every vine is personally pruned by Cheryl and every bottle that leaves the winery has been touched by Al in the winemaking and packaging process.
Since Gray Ghost’s inception, the winery has garnered hundreds of awards including numerous coveted honors of “Best of Show”, “Best Dessert Wine in the United States”, and “Chairman’s Best of Class” – all in renowned international wine competitions spanning from California to New York. In addition, the winery was named “Best of the East” four consecutive years by Vineyard & Winery Management Magazine for producing the most awarded wine in the country outside of California for Gray Ghost’s Adieu.