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Texas Wine Lover by Andrew Klein - 1d ago

A little earlier this year I saw a listing for a new winery, Gadela Wines, planning to open soon near my neighborhood. When I saw the “We’re open!” announcement on their Facebook page, I was eager to make my first visit.

My wife, Maria, and I recently had a chance to visit Gadela Wines and meet owners Franco and Brenda Knoepffler. They were extremely welcoming and eager to share their story. Franco began making wines as a hobby over 16 years ago and decided to grow this hobby into a family business. The Knoepfflers found their location in a slice of Spring, TX surrounded by The Woodlands over two years ago. They purchased an old house with the dream of turning it into their winery. After two years of hard work, including fully renovating the house to make it a functional winery and tasting room, they are ready to share their wines with everyone.

Gadela Wines is currently offering four of their wines, three white wines and a Cabernet Franc ice wine. They are sourcing juice from Texas and several other wine regions to round out their portfolio of wines. They are about to release two of their red wines, a Montepulciano and a Cabernet Sauvignon / Syrah blend. They have several more red wines being aged that will be released when Franco is happy with them. To keep red wine drinkers happy for the time being, they are offering three Private Reserve wines from Messina Hof, several of which are only otherwise available at Messina Hof locations.

In our tasting, we tried the following wines:

  • Gadela Wines label
    • Brisa, a Sauvignon Blanc with flavors of kiwi and pear
    • Riesling (dry)
    • Gewürztraminer
    • Cabernet Franc Ice Wine
  • Messina Hof wines
    • Private Reserve Reflections of Love (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc blend)
    • Private Reserve Malbec
    • Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

Gadela’s wines are all around enjoyable and nicely balanced. It is spring time in Texas, so their white wines are just in time for an afternoon on a patio. I have not had a Cab Franc ice wine before, and Gadela’s was a nice intro for me being full of red fruit flavors. Getting to try a few of the Messina Hof Private Reserve wines was an added treat. We plan on visiting Gadela Wines again soon after they release their first red wines.

Franco and Brenda Knoepffler

Gadela Wines is in the process of setting up their first events, including painting classes with a local artist. They also have space available for small private events. Gadela Wines is currently open Thursday and Friday evenings and all day Saturday. Visit them in Spring right off Kuykendahl Road.

The post Gadela Wines appeared first on Texas Wine Lover.

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Disclosure: Texas Wine Lover was invited to the event for the purposes of this press coverage. Additional tickets were offered at a discount. However, all opinions, experiences, and photographs are entirely our own.

Texas wine lovers were thrilled to welcome Matt and Adrian Moye of the Vincent Arroyo Winery from Napa Valley in Houston and Dallas. The pair held winemaker’s dinners in Houston on March 3 and in Dallas on March 10. In between, Adrian and Matt found time to visit the Houston Rodeo, Austin’s South by Southwest festival, and visit customers in San Antonio. The highlight was surely meeting enthusiastic supporters of their family winery located in Calistoga, the northernmost part of Napa Valley.

The winery makes 16 wines from 7 varieties and is best known for its Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and a Petite Sirah Port. The grapes used are mostly all estate grown on the 80-acre property. Vincent Arroyo wines (8,000 case production) are not distributed and are only available through the winery either in person or online. This is how Texans can get and enjoy their wines. Approximately 80% of their total production is sold as futures through a unique and flexible wine club.

Judging from the crowds of long-time supporters, Vincent Arroyo Winery maintains strong ties to Texas. Many attendees we talked to had visited the Napa winery and have been faithful wine club members for years. The Houston dinner has been an annual tradition for many years while this is the first year the Dallas dinner was also added.

Adrian and Matt Moye

Visiting the Houston and Dallas markets allowed California natives, Matt and Adrian, an opportunity to meet with customers and give an update on the winery. Matt, the winemaker and wife of Vincent Arroyo’s daughter Adrian, reported that 2017 has been a remarkable vintage. He expressed gratitude that the winery had emerged from the October wildfires unscathed. Matt announced the upcoming release of the 2017 Rattlesnake Cabernet Sauvignon, a new wine from vines planted 10 years ago. It will be their first single vineyard wine, and only 12 barrels will be produced.

The Houston dinner entitled the 19th Annual Winemaker’s Texas Customer Appreciation Dinner, was held at the BraeBurn Country Club and 120 people attended. A reception was held featuring their 2016 Chardonnay. This Chardonnay was only in oak for six months because Matt does not prefer a lot of oak. It is a blend of estate Chardonnay and fruit from Carneros. The acidity of the wine comes from Carneros, but the fruit forwardness comes from the estate Chardonnay. After a lovely reception with many appetizer choices, it was time for everyone to find their dining table.

Houston dinner

The four-course meal had wonderfully well-paired wines. The first course had New Orleans BBQ shrimp with a 2015 Tempranillo. The second course featured a favorite wild mushroom soup with the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Winemaker’s Reserve (three years in barrel). The entrée was a prime beef filet mignon with the 2014 Petite Sirah Winemaker’s Reserve (three years in barrel). We were waiting to try the wine that Vincent Arroyo is noted for, and we were not disappointed. The meal ended with a dark chocolate truffle marquis mousse cake and the 2014 Petite Sirah Port. What a luscious ending for a fabulous meal.

Houston wines

The Dallas dinner took place at Bent Tree Country Club in Plano and was a sellout. Upon arrival, the guests enjoyed the 2014 Chardonnay and a generous selection of passed hors d’oeuvres. The creative dinner menu featured gourmet presentations of duck, lamb, and beef. The dishes allowed the 2014 Petite Syrah, 2015 Merlot, and especially the 2014 Winemaker’s Reserve Cabernet to shine. Finally, the 2015 Petite Sirah Port wowed in a branded Port glass that was a take home gift from the winery.

Dallas dinner

The wines exhibited the concentration, balance, and finish that should make them great candidates for aging. The Petite Sirah, while pleasant enough now, will certainly drink even better in 5+ years. Vincent Arroyo’s wines are priced remarkably well considering their provenance and the care with which they are crafted. The $55 Cabernet Sauvignon was the most expensive wine we tasted and is the second most expensive bottle made. Similar wines from Napa Valley are much more expensive. Vincent Arroyo Winery also offers a number of large format bottles, perfect for gift-giving and parties.

If your plans take you to Napa, consider putting the Vincent Arroyo Winery on your schedule. The warmth of the Arroyo family will make you feel right at home, and the quality of their wines will impress discriminating palates. Then be sure to attend their next wine dinner in Texas. You may find yourself shouting “Cheers to Vincent Arroyo!” with a table full of new wine-loving friends.

The post Vincent Arroyo Winery Extends Texas-Style Hospitality in Dallas and Houston Dinners appeared first on Texas Wine Lover.

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The 2018 TEXSOM International Wine Awards results were released from the judging that was held February 12-14, 2018. There were over 3,200 entries representing 30 countries and 21 U.S. States, with the most diverse selection of wines in the history of the competition.

The entries were judged by 63 internationally renowned tastemakers from six countries, including 20 Master Sommeliers, 18 Masters of Wine, and other category experts. The judges awarded 2,223 medals: 285 Gold medals (9% of total entries), 760 Silver medals (24%), and 1,178 Bronze medals (37%). Vintages spanned eight decades, with the oldest being 1957.

Wines chosen for Judges’ Selections are nominated by judging panels for specific categories, then blind-tasted by special panels to determine the winner of each Selection. Judges’ Selections demonstrate quality and unique character that are exceptional even amongst their medal-winning peers.

Judges selection awards were wines deemed by judges as exceptional from among their award-winning peers. The Texas wines chosen were:

  • Becker Vineyards Cabernet Franc Reserve 2015, Texas High Plains
  • Brennan Vineyards Lily, Roussanne 2016, Reddy Vineyards
  • Enoch’s Stomp Light Portejas, Blanc du Bois 2011, Texas
  • Hilmy Cellars Albariño 2016, Blackwater Draw, Texas High Plains

Gold Medal and other select winning wines will also be highlighted on the TEXSOM International Wine Awards website throughout the year in the Featured Wines section.

Here are all the Texas winery results:

WineryNameDesignationAppellationVintageSRPAwardJudges' Selection Award  
4R Ranch Vineyards & WineryStampfenstier, Tempranillo-MalbecTexas High Plains201617.99Bronze
4R Ranch Vineyards & WineryTrillentrot, Symphony-Chenin BlancCalifornia201515.99Bronze
ArcheSyrahMontague County201534Bronze
ArcheTempranilloBayer Family VineyardsTexas High Plains201635Bronze
Becker VineyardsMalbecTexas201514.95Silver
Becker VineyardsReserve MerlotTexas201614.95Silver
Becker VineyardsProvençal, RoséTexas201612.95Silver
Becker VineyardsPetite SirahEstate ReserveTexas Hill Country201540Bronze
Becker VineyardsTempranilloTexas201624Bronze
Becker VineyardsViognierTexas201614.95Bronze
Becker VineyardsPrairie CuveeTexas201514.95Bronze
Becker VineyardsViognierFarmhouse Vineyards, , ReserveTexas High Plains201524.95Bronze
Becker VineyardsClaret, Les Trois DamesTexas201514.95Bronze
Becker VineyardsJolie, RoséTexas201624.95Bronze
Becker VineyardsCabernet SauvignonCanada Family Vineyard, , ReserveTexas High Plains201540Bronze
Becker VineyardsCabernet SauvignonTexas201524.95Bronze
Becker VineyardsCabernet FrancReserveTexas High Plains201540GoldJudges' Selection Award, US State - Texas Red
Bending Branch WineryTempranilloNewsom VineyardsTexas High Plains201230Bronze
Bending Branch WineryTannatTexas201430Bronze
Bent Oak WineryZinfandelRussian River ValleyCalifornia201642Silver
Bent Oak WineryPinot NoirRussian River ValleyCalifornia201646Silver
Bent Oak WineryCabernet SauvignonCalistogaCalifornia201648Silver
Bent Oak WineryViognierRussian River ValleyCalifornia201634Bronze
Brennan VineyardsDry RoséTexas201620Silver
Brennan VineyardsTempranilloTexas201528Silver
Brennan VineyardsSuper Nero, Nero D'AvolaTexas, Comanche County201534Bronze
Brennan VineyardsWinemaker's Choice, Vol. IVTexasNV42Bronze
Brennan VineyardsViognierTexas, Comanche County201619.5Bronze
Brennan VineyardsMourvèdre, RoséDry, ReserveTexas201625Bronze
Brennan VineyardsLily, RousanneReddy VineyardsTexas201618GoldJudges' Selection Nomination, US State - Texas White
Caprock WineryDry GewürztraminerDiamante Doble VineyardTexas High Plains201625Bronze
Caprock WineryTempranilloLimited ReleaseTexas High Plains201640Bronze
Caudalie CrestPrairie MistTexas201623Gold
Christoval VineyardsRambouillet, MontepulcianoTexas High Plains201429Bronze
Christoval VineyardsRambouillet, ViognierTexas High Plains201522Bronze
Christoval VineyardsRambouillet, RoussanneTexas High Plains201522Bronze
Christoval VineyardsTempranilloTexas201529Bronze
Duchman Family WineryVermentinoBingham Family VineyardTexas201620Gold
Duchman Family WineryAglianicoOswald VineyardTexas201430Silver
Duchman Family WineryTrebbianoBingham Family VineyardTexas201616Bronze
Duchman Family WineryMontepulcianoOswald VineyardTexas201430Bronze
Enoch's StompMuscat CanelliTexas201717Gold
Enoch's StompAll Y'all, Dry RedTexasNV29Silver
Enoch's StompDark Portejas, LenoirTexas201239Silver
Enoch's StompMontepulcianoTexas201522Bronze
Enoch's StompBlanc DuBois Off-dryTexas201715Bronze
Enoch's StompLight Portejas, Blanc DuBoisTexas201139GoldJudges' Selection Nomination, Style - Fortified
Fall Creek VineyardsGrenache RoséTexas Hill Country201730Silver
Fall Creek VineyardsTempranilloSalt Lick VineyardsTexas Hill Country201530Bronze
Fall Creek VineyardsGSM,Grenache-Syrah-MourvédreSalt Lick VineyardsTexas Hill Country201545Bronze
Fall Creek VineyardsSauvignon BlancVintner's SelectionEscondido Valley201722Bronze
Grower ProjectThe SourceTexas High Plains20150Bronze
Haak Vineyards & WineryMadeira, JacquezTexas201339.95Gold
Haak Vineyards & WineryTempranilloReddy Vineyards, , , Cellar ReserveTexas High Plains201534.95Silver
Haak Vineyards & WineryAmnesia, Madeira, Blanc du BoisTexas201424.95Silver
Haak Vineyards & WineryTempranilloReddy VIneyardsTexas High Plains201624.95Silver
Haak Vineyards & WineryBlanc du Bois Semi-dryTexas201719Silver
Haak Vineyards & WineryBlanc du BoisDryTexas201719Silver
Hilmy CellarsViognierTexas High Plains201528Gold
Hilmy CellarsPersephoneTexas High Plains201524Bronze
Hilmy CellarsTempranilloTexas High Plains201440Bronze
Hilmy CellarsRoséTexas High Plains201626Bronze
Hilmy CellarsMalbecTexas High Plains201540Bronze
Hilmy CellarsAlbariñoBlackwater DrawTexas High Plains201624GoldJudges' Selection Award, US State - Texas White
Kuhlman CellarsRoussanneTexas High Plains20160Gold
Kuhlman CellarsCinsaut RoséTexas High Plains20170Silver
Kuhlman CellarsAlluvéTexas20150Bronze
Lewis WinesMourvèdreLost Draw VineyardTexas High Plains201440Bronze
Lewis WinesParr TempranilloTexas Hill Country201330Bronze
Lewis WinesChenin BlancTexas High Plains201635Bronze
Llano Estacado WineryMonte Stella, RoséTexas201718Silver
Llano Estacado Winery1836, RedTexas201530Silver
Llano Estacado WineryViviano, Cabernet Sauvignon-SangioveseTexas201530Bronze
Llano Estacado Winery1836, WhiteTexas201624Bronze
Lost DrawRoussanneLa Pradera VineyardTexas High Plains20160Silver
Lost DrawPicpoul BlancTimmons Estate VineyardTexas High Plains20160Bronze
Lost DrawTempranilloTimmons Estate VineyardTexas High Plains20150Bronze
Lost Oak WineryOrange MuscatDiamante Doble Vineyards, , ReserveTexas High Plains201619.95Silver
McPhersonChenin BlancDry, Old VinesTexas201512.99Silver
McPherson CellarsWindblown, EVSTexas High Plains201616.99Bronze
Messina HofMerlotBarrel CuvéeTexas High Plains201611.99Gold
Messina HofPrimitivoTexas High Plains201615Silver
Messina HofSangioveseArtist SeriesTexas High Plains201615Bronze
Messina HofMourvèdreArtist SeriesTexas201621.99Bronze
O G CellarsSyrahTexas High Plains201635Bronze
Pedernales CellarsGSM MélangeTexas201535Silver
Pedernales CellarsTempranilloReserveTexas201550Silver
Pedernales CellarsValhalaTexas High Plains201640Silver
Pedernales CellarsViognierReserveTexas201620Bronze
Pelle LegnaBilancia, Cabernet BlendTexas201226.99Bronze
Pelle LegnaCabernet SauvignonReserveTexas201255.99Bronze
Pelle LegnaEssenzaTexas201139.99Bronze
Pheasant RidgeThree Barrels UpTexas High Plains201614Bronze
Rancho Loma VineyardsThe TempestReddy Vineyards, , ReserveTexas High Plains201642Silver
Rancho Loma VineyardsCohesionReddy VineyardsTexas High Plains201635Bronze
Rancho Loma VineyardsCorsoTexas High Plains201635Bronze
Ron YatesViognierTio Pancho RanchTexas Hill Country201626.99Silver
Signor VineyardsTouriga NacionalGold Vineyard, Rogue ValleyOregon201538Bronze
Signor VineyardsTempranilloCedar Ridge Vineyard, Rogue ValleyOregon201535Bronze
Signor VineyardsRoussanneMoonlight VineyardTexas High Plains201630Bronze
Spicewood VineyardsViognierTexas201623.99Silver
Stone House VineyardClaros, NortonReserveTexas Hill Country201630Silver
The Triple D WineryTy's Sweet ViognerTexas High Plains201720Silver
Trilogy CellarsGewürztraminerTexas201618Silver
Trilogy Cellars3-3-1Texas High Plains, Hockley County201638Bronze
Valley Mills VineyardsTempranilloTexas201442.5Gold
Valley Mills VineyardsVermentinoTexas201622.95Bronze
Watson VineyardPetite SirahTexas201535Bronze
Wedding Oak WineryTempranilloReserva, Mirasol VineyardsTexas Hill Country201535Silver
Wedding Oak WineryMarsanneHigh Valley Estate VineyardsTexas Hill Country201629Silver
Wedding Oak WineryTiojaMirasol VineyardsTexas Hill Country201529Bronze
Wedding Oak WinerySangioveseTexas Hill Country201529Bronze
Westcave Cellars WineryTannatEstate GrownTexas Hill Country201542.95Gold
Westcave Cellars WineryCabernet SauvignonReserve, , Estate GrownTexas Hill Country201545.95Bronze
White Fox VineyardsSweet, WhiteTexasNV17.95Bronze
White Fox VineyardsDry, WhiteTexasNV18.95Bronze
Wild Stallion VineyardsMalbecTexas201632Bronze
William Chris VineyardsHunterTexas High Plains201542Silver
Wines of Dotson CervantesPerseveranceTexas Hill Country..
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The Italy-America Chamber of Commerce of Texas recently hosted their Taste of Italy event at the Hilton Houston Post Oak. This event showcases the best of Italian wines and food with over 200 wines from over 80 wineries, and lots of great food to sample. This year’s event was organized in coordination with Slow Wine Editori, the publisher of an extensive guide of Italian and Californian wineries that operate using Slow Wine practices. These are a set of environmentally friendly practices that have grown from the Slow Food movement that started in Italy nearly 30 years ago.

The tasting tables were organized by region of Italy, so working one’s way through the event was like a whirlwind tour of Italy’s wine regions. This gave attendees an opportunity to gain more understanding of the differences and nuances of the many regions of Italy. Winery representatives were eager to share what makes their wines special, leading to a lot of great conversation. While this is a trade-focused event, it is open to the public for a few hours in the afternoon, giving a broader audience the chance to experience a wider view into Italian wines and foods.

As a Texas wine enthusiast, Taste of Italy gave me a good opportunity to follow several of the grape varieties that are popular in Texas wines back to their Italian origins. It was also interesting to see how Italian winemakers are using these grape varieties in their wines today. Non-traditional blends are going well beyond what the Sangiovese-based Super Tuscan wines started in the 1970s. Italian winemakers also greatly embrace their local grape varieties, as seen with a producer that was sampling four different Aglianico wines, using different harvest dates and winemaking techniques to show a wide range of expressions from one grape.

While the Taste of Italy is the main event, there are several other great supporting events as well. There is a larger food-focused event at night, and several seminars throughout the day. Once I saw the listing for The ultimate wine pairing: Texas BBQ and Lambrusco, I knew which seminar I had to attend.

Jeremy Parzen

In The ultimate wine pairing: Texas BBQ and Lambrusco, Moderator Jeremy Parzen of DoBianchi led attendees through the history of Lambrusco, tasting three different Lambrusco wines, and why they pair so well with Texas BBQ. Jeremy was assisted by a panel featuring Houston Chronicle BBQ writer J.C. Reid and Brian Larky of Dalla Terra Imports, which made for quite the knowledgeable and entertaining group to host such a seminar and tasting. Attendees got to try a smoked pork belly dish from Pappas Delta Blues, the newest restaurant from the Pappas family of restaurants. Jackson Street BBQ served an excellent beef rib, and Grant Pinkerton from Pinkerton’s BBQ was on hand to help serve his awesome pulled pork and chopped brisket slider. What a BBQ lineup!

While I never thought about pairing Lambrusco with BBQ before, I now think of it as a great pairing. These aren’t those sticky-sweet Lambrusco wines of the 1980s. These are serious but fun, well-made wines that deserve attention. If you come across Lambrusco di Sorbara DOC or Lambrusco Grasparossa DOC from the producer Cleto Chiarli at your favorite wine shop, be sure to pick up a bottle to enjoy with your next BBQ feast.

The Taste of Italy has become an annual event in Houston, and the Italy-America Chamber of Commerce of Texas also has quite of few other events throughout the year. If you’re interested in their future events, check out their Facebook page.

The post 2018 Taste of Italy Houston appeared first on Texas Wine Lover.

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Texas Wine Lover by Jeff Cope - 5d ago

If you have visited a Texas winery recently, you may have seen those really cool pourers that look like animal heads, college teams, grapes, and more. Besides being just a pourer of your wine without dripping, they also aerate the wine helping improve the flavor too.

I have always loved the looks of the pourers, so I contacted the company Spectrum Wine Specialties. I learned they are a family owned business based in Cedar Park, Texas, which helps explain why a number of Texas wineries carry their products. I needed to be a part too!

So, Texas Wine Lover now sells the Spectrum wine pourers in our shop, and get this, they’re on sale right now!

To help me test out a couple of the Spectrum wine pourers, Lance Lawhon from Spectrum Wine Specialties, sent me a couple of their most popular pourers, the Buck and the Zombie.

We already had a pourer that looked similar, so it was a good chance to see what the difference was. The first thing I noticed when I pulled the Buck wine pourer out of the box was the weight of the pourer. Comparing it to the other one we had, you could tell it was heavier, and I actually felt its robustness and could see the quality. The pourer comes with an extra rubber sleeve in case the years of use wear out the rubber sleeve that is already attached to the pourer.

I had to try the Zombie next. This is a fairly new product for Spectrum Wine Specialties, and any true zombie and Walking Dead fan (okay, that’s me too!) would surely want this in their wine arsenal. Both pourers did a fine job pouring the wine I was going to enjoy.

Spectrum Wine Specialties is also planning some wine pourers based on college logos. Currently there is a Texas A&M and I saw a prototype of the next one that will be coming out. Sorry, I can’t give away the secret!

I asked Lance to tell me a little about their business to which he replied:

“Our business is to meet the merchandise needs of winery tasting rooms and gift shops. While we provide our master-craft wine pourers, we also partner with wineries to provide logoed promotional products for their branding. Texas boasts over 300 wineries and more are coming online every year. We love visiting with winery owners and providing them with the products that they need for their tasting rooms. If you need merchandise for your tasting room or would like us to help you with promotional products, don’t hesitate to call 512-832-1889 or email me at lance@spectrumvino.com.”

Check out the Spectrum wine pourers we are selling in our shop, and I am sure you will not be disappointed with the quality the next time you pour your favorite wine.

The post Spectrum Wine Pourers appeared first on Texas Wine Lover.

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The post Roll Out the Barrel, a Glimpse into the 2017 Vintage appeared first on Texas Wine Lover.

Everything is bigger in Texas as they say, so why expect anything less than going big when it comes to previewing wines? Roll Out the Barrel is an event that a few select wineries have hosted over the last several years, and this was the first time scheduling had allowed me to attend the event representing Texas Wine Lover who was invited to the event. I was pretty pumped about participating, and I can say with certainty it was definitely worth it!

What is Roll Out the Barrel exactly? Well, it is similar to En Primeur in France, in which the recent vintage is previewed while it is still in tank/barrel just beginning its journey. For us, that meant exploring the 2017 vintage merely months after harvest to get an idea of how the wines are progressing so far. The three wineries that participated were, in order of visiting: Perissos Vineyard and Winery, Fall Creek Vineyards, and Wedding Oak Winery. Below you’ll find my thoughts and observations of each stop along the way.

Seth Martin at Perissos

We began the day at Perissos Vineyard and Winery in Burnet, Texas. Seth Martin (owner/winemaker) met us in their tasting room to begin the tasting. We headed out to the vineyard to get our learn on. If you’ve never met Seth, you should know he likes to get detailed with his wine talk, and he led us down a cognitive path of enlightenment for quite some time. Not only did we taste several great wines, but we learned about Perissos’ vineyard management, harvest techniques, and of course winemaking 101, the way they do things there. It was an enlightening experience to say the least. The little details, like the fact their trellis system for the vines is higher than most to make it easier to harvest with the fruit hanging at chest level, not at thigh level like most vineyards, is one example. Stooping is not easy on anyone’s back for hours on end, so this was their way of solving that problem.

Brent Pape pouring at Perissos

Wines tasted:

  • 2015 & 2017 Viognier, Texas Hill Country, Estate grown
  • 2017 Lucy, Texas Hill Country, Estate grown
  • 2017 Dry Rosé, Grenache/Mourvèdre, Texas Hill Country, Estate grown
  • 2015 & 2017 Tempranillo, Texas Hill Country, Estate grown
  • 2015 & 2017 Aglianico, Texas Hill Country, Estate grown
  • 2015 & 2017 Petite Sirah, Texas Hill Country, Estate grown

Tasting at Perissos

Perissos Vineyard and Winery fun facts:

  • Approximately 70% of the wines made are comprised of Estate grown fruit
  • Roughly 16 acres are planted on site
  • The vineyard sits in a valley, and the soil is comprised of well-drained decomposed granite-gravel
  • The first vines were planted in 2005
  • The elevation is 880 feet above sea level
  • They like to utilize about 30% new oak, 2-4 year old oak, and neutral oak. Both French and American oak are part of the winemaking program.

Susan and Ed Auler

Our next stop was Fall Creek Vineyards in Tow, Texas. We were happily greeted by owners Susan and Ed Auler, as well as Director of Winemaking Sergio Cuadra, and Winemaker Phil Price. They started us off with a history of Fall Creek while we sipped on some very delicious Sauvignon Blanc. Once we made our way to the tasting table in the barrel room, we had several wines lined up to taste, including a first for the winery, a Lenoir Sparking Wine. We got to hear stories of the winery, and how they pushed to get the Texas Hill Country AVA to be an officially recognized appellation. The ambience was cozy alongside the barrels, and we got to enjoy a solid assortment of very high quality wines. As we departed the winery, we were handed sandwich wraps and brownies to get some tasty food in our bellies. The timing couldn’t have been better, at least for me.

Tasting at Fall Creek Vineyards

Wines tasted:

  • 2017 tank fermented Sauvignon Blanc, Escondido Valley AVA, Mesa Vineyards
  • 2017 barrel fermented Sauvignon Blanc, Escondido Valley AVA, Mesa Vineyards
  • 2017 barrel fermented Chenin Blanc, Escondido Valley AVA, Mesa Vineyards
  • 2017 Lenoir Sparkling Wine, Estate grown, Tow, Texas
  • 2017 Tempranillo, Texas Hill Country AVA, Salt Lick Vineyards (This wine was pressed on the same day as the great lunar eclipse!)
  • 2017 Mourvèdre, Texas Hill Country AVA, Salt Lick Vineyards
  • 2017 Petit Verdot, Texas Hill Country, Certenberg Vineyards

At Fall Creek Vineyards

Fall Creek Vineyards fun facts:

  • They have been experimenting with native yeast fermentation as of late. Nearly all of what we tasted was fermented using only native yeast.
  • The yearly production is about 30,000 cases
  • Red wines make up ~65-70% of their total wine production
  • Fall Creek has wines distributed well outside of Texas, including select places in Europe such as Denmark
  • Susan and Ed Auler feel that both the 2016 and 2017 vintages were stellar

Pouring at Wedding Oak Winery

Our final stop of the afternoon was Wedding Oak Winery in San Saba, Texas. If you didn’t know already, San Saba has become known for three things: cattle, pecans, and of course Texas wine! Our group was led to the barrel room where managing partner Mike McHenry, winemaker Penny Adams, and assistant winemaker Seth Urbanek talked about their wine program and about the vintage(s) we were tasting through. We all enjoyed tasting from the tank/barrels as we moved through the wine program. A delicious plate of charcuterie was provided to each table to offer some palate cleansing, and sustenance for our souls.

Seth Urbanek and Penny Adams

Wines tasted:

  • 2017 tank fermented Viognier, Texas Hill Country, High Valley Vineyard
  • 2016 Tioja Tempranillo/Grenache, Texas Hill Country, Mirasol Vineyards
  • 2016 Tempranillo, Texas Hill Country, Mirasol Vineyards, older block
  • 2016 Montepulciano, Texas High Plains, Diamante Doble Vineyard
  • 2017 Petit Verdot, Texas High Plains, Narra Vineyards

Tasting at Wedding Oak

Wedding Oak Winery fun facts:

  • Winemaker Penny Adams has been involved with the Texas wine industry since the 1980s
  • They almost exclusively use French oak, although they recently picked up a few American oak barrels
  • They have the main winery in San Saba, Texas, but you can also find them at Wildseed Farms on Wine Road 290, as they have vines and a tasting room there
  • Both Penny and Seth attended Texas A&M University. Gig ’em!

I really enjoyed myself during our visit to the wineries, and I look forward to hopefully attending again next year. Having personally experienced En Primeur in Bordeaux, France in 2016, I can speak with certainty that Texas “Rolled Out the Barrel” in fine fashion! The wineries did a bang- up job of hosting and educating us, and they offered a well selected group of wines both as futures tastings, and comparisons to finished wines of previous years. It would be awesome to see many more Texas wineries become involved with this on a yearly basis, and perhaps lengthen it out to a few weekends or weeks to give industry and media the opportunity to get a bigger glance of the state’s current vintage as a whole.

My thoughts on all the wines tasted are positive. Everything we tasted was clean and well balanced overall. Well, some of the 2017 reds are still a bit wonky to some extent, but that will even out as they continue to mature in the barrel. The 2015’s and 2016’s showed very well as bottled wines that are maturing quite nicely, and 2017 shows a ton (pun intended) of promise already, even in the youthful state in which we tasted them. It was a wonderful opportunity to be able to sample such a broad selection of 2017 vintage wines whether white, rosé, sparkling, or red. The bubbles at Fall Creek were quite the treat as well. The aromas and flavor profile of that young wine are unique, as I have never tasted a bubbly Lenoir. It will be exciting to taste that particular wine in its final state. I want to give a huge shout out to all three wineries for being so generous to us as hosts, and to Matt McGinnis with Pen & Tell Us for coordinating and leading the pack! You are a fine host, my friend.


The post Roll Out the Barrel, a Glimpse into the 2017 Vintage appeared first on Texas Wine Lover.

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The post Pruning is the Key to it All at Canada Family Vineyard appeared first on Texas Wine Lover.

If you go out to the local vineyards today, you won’t find much in the way of greenery. In fact, what you will find is what appears to be dead vines with lots of gnarled limbs and vines wrapped around. So how does it go from looking like a big mess in February to sprouting with new growth in May? One word – pruning.

This is the time of the year that pruning of the grapevines takes place. They should be pruned during their dormancy, usually done in late winter.

The biggest problem most people make when pruning, especially newer grape growers, is simply not pruning enough. Light pruning does not promote good fruiting like a heavy pruning does. One of the keys to quality fruit is a good job of pruning.

A trip out to the Canada Family Vineyard near Plains, Texas in the High Plains, and owned by Dwayne and Brenda Canada, and their son and his family – Daniel and wife Christy and grandson Garner and Grey, showed how important good pruning can be and also, how difficult it is to do a quality job. Brenda gets out there like an old pro and just gets to clipping the vines. She knows exactly where she wants to cut and what she wants to leave. She watches for those buds closer to the cordon and removes all the other canes. What starts off as a gnarled mess, is soon a pristine row of grape vines ready for the new season.

Brenda Canada

The Canadas use what they call the “Newsom Method” of trimming where the vines wrap horizontally around the support wires. Brenda feels like this method enables them to have a larger grape producing area with more support.

Brenda carefully counts three buds and then cuts the cane off leaving a spur with three buds on it. She leaves ten to twelve spurs on each cordon. For a novice first time pruner, it is a hard moment to decide where to cut and which to leave. It appears to be cutting off production, but common sense wins out and adequate pruning is done in the end.

Pruning is done differently on younger vines than it is on the older vines, already in production such as those the Canadas were pruning.

In the first couple of years, growers select one or two of the best canes and remove all the others. Lateral canes develop from the node area of existing canes. This throws the vine’s overall growth out of balance.

The goal is to achieve a balanced vine of just the right amount of leaves to fully ripen the grapes. Too much shade from vigorous and unchecked growth causes production of fewer grapes and grapes of a less desirable quality.

Canada Family Vineyard vine

Brenda stated, “Canada Family Vineyard has about 20 acres of vineyard right now. Part of these 20 acres is quite possibly the oldest Chardonnay vineyard in the state of Texas.”

The previous owner had planted the vineyard in about 1986. Due to some family illness, the vineyard had fallen into disrepair. Brenda took it over for the man in an effort to learn about grapes and also to determine whether or not it was something she was going to continue to want to do. “I fell in love with it immediately. The first year I worked it, we made enough grapes for some jelly. The next year, we produced 640 pounds.” From then on, the vineyard has blossomed and has continued to produce.

The Canada Family Vineyard currently grow Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Malbec.

Brenda is recognized as someone who knows her vines. “If you walk them every day, you know what they are doing and what they need. And you know when they are ready to harvest.”

The Canada Vineyard grapes go to Becker Vineyards where they recently won a Double Gold in the 2018 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition with their Cabernet Sauvignon. This is a huge honor for the Canada family. “Dr. Becker stated he usually tells the vineyard owners when they will want their grapes harvested, but he said, ‘Brenda knows. If she says it is time, then that is when they will harvest.’”

Brenda’s knowledge of the grape industry, and their grapes in particular, is well respected in the industry. Her knowledge has also contributed to other award-winning wines as well.

Their 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve was a Silver Medal winner at the 2017 Lone Star International Wine Competition.

And the winning is just beginning. The grape industry is fortunate to have folks like Dwayne and Brenda Canada who have such a love for the land and a love for the work they do.

The post Pruning is the Key to it All at Canada Family Vineyard appeared first on Texas Wine Lover.

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The post Texas Wine Lover tour of the Texas Hill Country appeared first on Texas Wine Lover.

I have been asked many times on what wineries I would recommend for people to visit. That is expected since I have personally visited over 300 Texas wineries over the years around the state. The answer depends on what part of Texas they are visiting, but the most commonly asked about area is the Texas Hill Country, since it is the second most visited wine destination in the United States. The difficult part is coming up with a handful of wineries for the person to visit over a weekend. There are so many good wineries and tasting rooms in the Texas Hill Country and, of course, it depends on what styles of wine the person likes.

I have partnered with the national tour company Private Label Tours to hopefully help answer the question on what wineries to visit in the Texas Hill Country. After running a survey to determine what possible guests would enjoy, we have now arranged a three-day tour of the Texas Hill Country, including private winery tastings and tours. Obviously just three days is not enough time with logistics to get to all the wineries I would recommend, but we have made a great head start for the guest to learn how great Texas wine is, and entice them to return to visit more wineries.

In order to get the best benefit from the most wineries, we decided to concentrate mostly on U.S 290, often called Wine Road 290, stretching from Johnson City to Fredericksburg, Texas.

Now, this is not your common “party bus tour” of the Fredericksburg area. This tour provides the guest an education about the Texas wine industry and Hill Country wines. In addition, guests will meet and engage with local winery owners and other wine authorities. There may even be a few special surprises thrown in, that the average winery visitor does not get the chance to enjoy.

Restaurants have been chosen for the tour to provide a variety of delicacies for the guests’ enjoyment. We have even arranged an entertaining evening with a cooking class and dinner, with wine included, provided by a nationally recognized gourmet food producer—Fredericksburg’s own, Fischer & Wieser.

With all the extraordinary and exclusive experiences provided during the tour, and to ensure all guests enjoy an immersive and informative experience, space will need to be limited to a maximum of 16 guests. To avoid any avoidable disappointment and regrets—sign up now for the Texas Wine Lover Hill Country Wine Trail Tour!

Here are the wineries that will be included in the Texas Wine Lover Hill Country Wine Trail Tour (last minute changes may be necessary):

In addition to the incredible wineries we will visit, these are the restaurants and wineries at which guests will have the chance to enjoy a wonderful meal:

  • Fischer and Wieser’s Private Cooking Class and Dinner
  • Hye Market
  • Inwood Estates Vineyards, Winery & Bistro
  • Private dinner at a local resident’s home

Guests will also enjoy learning the history of Fredericksburg, a town settled by primarily German immigrants, with a special, private presentation by a local expert. We will then take a mini-coach tour of Fredericksburg.

Besides wining, dining, education, and camaraderie—there must be time for shopping! Guests will enjoy opportunities to visit the many boutique shops of Fredericksburg either before or after the tour. If enjoying more history is your idea of time well-spent, you may visit the National Museum of the Pacific War during your free time, conveniently located in the heart of the Main Street shopping district.

As you can see, this is a very full tour of the Texas Hill Country, including wineries, restaurants, and so much more in just three days! Maybe the best part, you get to do all of this without having to worry about driving! A luxury mini-coach will be used during the entire tour which includes Wi-Fi, overheard storage, and power/USB outlets. Accommodations for both nights at the Fredericksburg Inn & Suites, with newly-renovated rooms and lobby areas, are also included in the tour price.

I could go on and on about the many benefits of signing up to enjoy this Texas Wine Lover tour, but just looking at the full itinerary should prove to anyone interested, that it will be a fantastic and rewarding time! Guests will be given tremendous service before and during the tour, and also receive assistance with any hotel, or other arrangements they may require prior to departure, or after the tour. Join me for a great time during the tour!

See the full itinerary for all of the details, then sign up today—before this tour is Sold Out! And the best thing is, register before March 31st and get a discount!

The post Texas Wine Lover tour of the Texas Hill Country appeared first on Texas Wine Lover.

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The post A Texas Wine Tasting at Mattie’s by Texas Wine Growers appeared first on Texas Wine Lover.

My wife and I recently attended “A Texas Wine Tasting at Mattie’s,” the inaugural Texas Wine Growers tasting event which was held at Mattie’s in Austin, TX. The venue is pretty extravagant as you walk up the driveway and observe their well-manicured estate. You’re quickly greeted by beautiful peacocks walking the grounds. We had never been there before, and based on aesthetics alone, we are definitely interested in visiting again for dinner sometime.

A bit of information about the group:

Texas Wine Growers was established in order to promote and protect the integrity of Texas wine through the education of consumers on the importance of truth in labeling, the support of Texas agriculture through the use of Texas grapes in Texas wineries, and in the spirit of cooperation to propel the industry forward by making wines that exhibit true Texas terroir.

Texas Wine Growers was accepted in February of 2017 as a member of Wine Origins, an international organization made up of 23 of the world’s leading wine regions, dedicated to ending the purposeful mislabeling and misuse of geographic names in order to prevent consumers from being misled, and to protect the reputations of wine regions around the world.

Once we walked in the door where the event was held, I was immediately impressed by the sheer number of attendees already there. It was barely 6 p.m. and the house was jam packed with people waiting to get their hands on some Texas wine. Apparently, the ticket count had to be raised a few times to accommodate everyone who wanted to attend the very first event, which of course is focused solely on 100% Texas grown wines. If that’s not evidence of the demand for Texas wine, I don’t know what is. The eight founding wineries were all in attendance pouring their hearts out, along with their flavorful Texas wines.

I immediately noticed the small details, like the Riedel glasses which were set out for the tasting. It’s stuff like that makes all the difference to me. A cheap glass does not help show wine in its truest form. As we made our way to each table, we had the opportunity to taste several wines by each grower/producer. Every table had the winemaker there to answer questions and discuss the wines being poured. I will admit, I don’t think anyone planned on the amount of people that would be packed into the room, because it was insanely loud, and there was barely standing room around the tasting tables.

Despite the cramped situation, we had a marvelous time! We tasted through the portfolio set forth by the Texas Wine Growers group, and most everything we tasted was great. There were a few meh’s in my opinion, but for the most part Texas wine was surely shining proud! A full program of Texas wine was in service from whites, rosé, red wines, and a dessert wine.

It was a proud moment to see just how many folks were interested in tasting 100% Texas grown wines all in one spot. It is moments like these that truly show how far Texas has come in such a short period of time.

The eight founding wineries in attendance were:

It was a bustling event and from my viewpoint, it seemed to be a great success in showing off some wonderful Texas wines. I was proud to partake in the inaugural festivities alongside so many great friends in the industry, and a healthy number of thirsty Texas wine consumers.


The post A Texas Wine Tasting at Mattie’s by Texas Wine Growers appeared first on Texas Wine Lover.

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The post Preview of some March 2018 Wine Festivals appeared first on Texas Wine Lover.

March is coming up and Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, so that means we have six more weeks of winter. But that won’t stop the Texas wine festivals. Here is a preview of some March Texas wine festivals, but be sure to check out our list of all the spring and summer wine festivals.

The Georgetown Swirl

The 9th Annual Georgetown Swirl takes place on the Georgetown Square featuring local food and downtown shopping. This year’s event will be on Saturday, March 3, 2018. Live jazz music will also enhance your swirling pleasure. https://swirl.georgetown.org

Red River Wine & Beer Festival

The Red River Wine & Beer Festival takes place in Wichita Falls on March 24. Sample Texas wines and beers all in one location. https://www.redriverwineandbeerfestival.com

Texas Wine & Rogue Art Fest

March 24-25 will bring the Texas Wine & Rogue Art Fest to Salado, Texas. Join an afternoon of wine tasting featuring 20 wineries, wonderful art, and delicious food. https://saladowinefestival.com

The post Preview of some March 2018 Wine Festivals appeared first on Texas Wine Lover.

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