The Kellert Family and Gray Ghost Vineyards A Brief Biography


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.



History of the Name

Why  Gray Ghost? Second only to questions about winemaking comes this  question concerning the naming of the winery and vineyards.  Gray Ghost  Winery and Vineyards is located at the very Southern end of what was  known as Mosby's Confederacy in the Civil War.

John S. Mosby was  commissioned by the Confederacy to command a small cavalry unit whose  purpose was to provide valuable scouting information to General Lee  about the Union Army's position and strength.  In a short period of  time, Mosby was operating behind the Union lines in Northern Virginia;  raiding Union positions; and creating as much chaos as possible.  By the  end of the war, Mosby had attained the rank of Colonel and commanded  about 400 troops.

Colonel Mosby has often been credited with  extending the life of the Confederacy by over six months.  General Grant  felt compelled to withhold about 25,000 troops from battle with General  Lee's Army of Northern Virginia due to the activities of the Mosby  Rangers and during the fear that Mosby would eventually raid Washington  itself.

Because  of Mosby's ability to infiltrate the enemy lines and to capture  supplies and prisoners without being detected or suffering any major  losses of his own, the Union Army began referring to him as the "Gray  Ghost".  This term was eventually used to refer to other Confederate  Rangers who operated in such areas as Missouri, Tennessee, West  Virginia, Georgia and Kentucky, although none attained the notoriety of  Mosby.

Gray Ghost Vineyards takes pride in being located on one  of the routes Mosby used during the Civil War.  It also is in the heart  of an area that supplied Mosby with a number of his troops.  Naming the  winery and vineyards Gray Ghost is our way of recognizing Mosby's  contribution to history as well as all the other Gray Ghosts of the  Confederacy.

The image on the label was an original painting done  by Al Kellert, designed to reflect the appearance of the Confederate  officer during the Civil War.  It helps to project the image and history  of the vineyards and reflect our determination to make an outstanding  product which also will live in history.  The lettering for the "Gray  Ghost" was actually a composite of Mosby's handwriting.  It should be  noted that Colonel Mosby was never known to have actually written or  referred to himself as the Gray Ghost.