Archives for category: Wineries

Located just east of Bandera, this family run winery has a fun, relaxed wine bar atmosphere to allow you to sit and sip for a while in a cool welcoming space. Turns out, the owners of Lost Maples Winery near Vanderpool are cousins of the owners Terry, Alice, Rhett and Kymberli Word of Hill Country Cellars.  Both wineries collaborate on sourced grapes and winemaking. Hill Country Wine Cellars opened two years ago. The inside decor is phenomenal with much detail in the reclaimed wood and use of wine barrels.  There were seven wines available during our visit. One Rosé, two whites, and three reds. The Rosé was made from Shiraz grapes and was smooth with strawberry and raspberry notes. Their Chardonnay was fermented in stainless steel and featured more citrus notes. The Symphony is a rare white not often used.  The 2016 vintage was quite floral with pear notes and honeysuckle and a slight tartness. For the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, we noted blackberry fruit on the nose and a hint of pepper.  It was clearer than most Cabs, but that didn’t detract from the experience. The 2016 Malbec is still young and was a bit hot initially but did have a smooth taste. Their 2015 Black Spanish wine was also well made fermented in French oak with a 15% alcohol content.  It was a bit hot and should be able to mellow with a little more aging.  The Black Spanish had a bold texture and a pleasant dry finish without the astringency of most Back Spanish wines. Terry was a great host and we were impressed with his presentation and knowledge of the wines. The winery also offers tapas to pair with your favorite selection.  So, come on out, sit back, relax, and enjoy what life has to offer here!

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One of the best pleasures of exploring Texas Hill Country wineries are the fantastic views and interesting people you get to meet along the way. Scimitar Hill Vineyards has one of those breath-taking views that are so majestic and a passionate owner. Tom Hendrix and his wife are the proud owners of this piece of paradise which opened a couple of years ago. His ranch is home to about 33 scimitar-horned oryx. Ironically, raising oryx was the original purpose of the ranch.  The vines and wine making came later.  This is Tom’s later in life hobby and next chapter after a career in information technology.  The tasting room sits atop a hill overlooking the animals and vineyard.  Inside the tasting room, Tom keeps two plaques on the mantle featuring his favorite wine quotes, one from Earnest Hemmingway and the other from Gerald Asher.  A sign that Tom’s passion and love IS in this business.  He and his wife have enjoyed traveling in France and they were inspired by similarities of climate and soil with central Texas. So they decided why can’t they do the same thing here in Texas? The initial plantings in the vineyard began in 2009 and they now have about 2.5 acres planted on two separate plots.  Varietals include Albariño, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot.  His estate wines express the labor of love that he and his wife have put into this venture.  We tried all the wines available in the tasting room on our visit. Let the 2014 Malbec breathe for a bit, then you can soak in some great notes on this vintage. The 2016 Cabernet Franc needs some time to settle as it is still a bit tight, but you can discern the nice cherry flavors that will make this wine a keeper.  The 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon is a bit young now, but has some lovely berry notes that will only improve with age.  The 2016 Merlot has a lot of great flavor and a nice long finish. The rock star of his selection is the 2016 Petit Verdot. The dark purple color and the enticing nice long finish puts a whole new meaning to bonding with great wine. This one has the potential to age and drink well for the next decade.  When Tom feels that the Albariño vines are mature enough, he’ll start making some estate wines of that, too.  Yet another excuse for a return trip!  Tom is a great guy to chat with and makes the hospitality of his place that much more welcoming. Another fine example of how small boutique wineries make Texas wines personal. This is a stunning spot to stop, that is a bit out of the way, but so very much worth your time and effort. Plus, on the way you can visit Bandera and enjoy some cowboy country, so what’s not to love? Plot your course for a new winery destination and stop in and say hi and see the wines being produced in Camp Verde, Texas.

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Perched up high on the hills of the Texas Hill Country is a great new Texas winery and vineyard for your viewing and tasting pleasures.  Originally from New York, owners Regan and Carey Meador are not only resident transplants, but have transplanted their winery to Texas as well.  They’ve picked one of the best Hill Country locations and views for their new adventures in Texas wines.  They have been opened since August and the interest in this brand-new place has grown.  While plans are in the works for their own Texas wine making, you can enjoy many of their great wines they produced from their former New York location.  The 2014 Sauvignon Blanc is well rounded and crisp for these never-ending Texas summer days. The 2015 Sparkling Lagrein is nice and we enjoyed this while celebrating their new opening in Texas. The 2015 Lagrein (non-sparkling) is another great comparison of this red varietal.  The “Devil Makes Three” is their Bordeaux style red.  It is a blend of Cabernet Franc 69%, Malbec 20%, Merlot 11%.  Keep holding on to this bottle and it will be even more delightful.  There are many more great options on their tasting menu, so it’s a good excuse to return!  The owner’s plan for an estate vineyard is to do hill side plots on the north side with low yielding vines.  This should bode well for their future Rhone style wine plans, minimal touching of grapes, and concrete tank fermentation.  What’s not to like about this place?  With their intuition and experience, they should do quite well on the 20-acre estate. Take a jog north of the busy HWY 290 wine trail sometime and check them out.  You’ll love the fantastic 360 views of the Pedernales Valley, the great company, and some great wine.  Enjoy, our wine friends!

IMG_9087 - Southold Farm + Cellar

Nothing like an early 20th century building in a small town to help set the mood for your wine tasting experience.  “Iron Star Hall” is the location of owner’s Kevin and Dana Flanigan’s winery.  Over the years, the two building sites have been a lumber store and post office.  It also served as a setting for the movie, “Newton Boys”.  The interior is quite spectacular and does have that 1920’s feel and look of the movie set hotel and bar. They’ve been opened since September of 2016 during the last Oatmeal festival and have been serving up some good wine & spirits along with some great story telling.  There are currently five wines available for tasting.  During your tasting session, Kevin will guide you through his sommelier experience and make sure that your sight, smell, and tasting experience is well done.  Along the way, he may tell you some interesting stories and jokes to help keep things lively.  The 2015 Viaggio is a dry white blend of 50% Muscat Blanc and 50% Muscat Canelli.  It’s loaded with citrus aromas and some tartaric acids.  Ironically, as you let it linger, it does smooth out for a nice finish.  The 2015 Rose’ is made from Mourvedre.  It has honey and cranberry notes and is perfect for these 100+ degree days in Texas.  The Bear is a 50/50 Merlot and Sangiovese blend using old world style techniques.  It is tannic with a long finish.  The Slainte is a new world style of 35% Malbec, 35% Mourvèdre, 9% Petite Sirah, 12% Petite Sirah, 6% Tannat, and 3% Alicante Bouschet.  Everything but the kitchen sink, right? It is quite fruit forward with some tobacco notes and is well balanced.   Last is the Marmalada.  It’s a sweet blend of Chenin Blanc, Viognier and Merlot.  Chilled, this makes a great light bodied wine that is smooth and refreshing and delightful for summertime sipping.  In addition to the wine tasting, there is a spirit tasting to do, as well.  Trust us, Kevin won’t let you out without trying them.  We might have to setup a separate blog for these, but you will get the level of quality tasting experience as you do with the wine and some good stories from Kevin.  This is a nice addition to the Bertram area and is worth the stop on your way out to the Hill Country.  Cheers!

IMG_9053 - Flanigan's Distillery & Winery

Out on the edge of the Texas Hill Country is where you’ll find this shining light producing some great Texas wines.  Owners Alphonse Dotson and Martha Cervantes may have started out on difference paths in life, but good karma has brought them together and lead them to this piece of Texas wine country.   Alphonse was a former NFL player and played for the Oakland Raiders.  Martha worked for resort companies in Mexico.  They met and had a desire to start something entirely new in their lives and determined that Texas was the place for their vineyard. They have been growing grapes in their vineyard near Voca for about 18 years.  The vineyard has about 20 acres planted with about 20,000 vines.  Fall Creek Winery has been using their grapes to make some of their award-winning wines for many years.  Fall Creek and the Dotsons helped disprove the myth that high quality Chardonnay can’t be grown in Texas.  You may have seen their wines at area wine stores.  Don’t be afraid to try them.  They are quite good!  The tasting room in Pontotoc opened in November of 2014.  They currently have four wines for tasting.  Ed Auler and Sergio Cuadra from Fall Creek helped with the winemaking, too.  The 2015 Perseverance is a blend of 75% Muscat Canelli, 13% Malvasia Bianco, 7% Chardonnay, and 5% Moscato.  Alphonse tells a great story of how these vines recovered from an accidental herbicide dose, hence, the origin of the name. This white wine is crisp with lovely citrus notes.  It has the taste of sweetness, yet it’s dry.  The 2015 Gotas de Oro is a 50% Chardonnay, 50% Muscat Canelli blend.  The “Drop of Gold” wine has delightful citrus and pear notes with a nice soft finish.  Now, the Something Red is a real treat!  This 2008 blend of Cabinet Sauvignon 68% and Merlot 32%.  It has all the right berries, all the right tannins, and just enough spicy notes to give that wonderful full mouth feel.  We also tried the same wine that had been opened for two weeks.  Guess what…it still tasted great!  It was just a bit softer and more mellow, but the fruit still held up well. We enjoyed Fall Creek’s Chardonnay that he had on hand.  It’s a very nice wine for the white wine lovers!  Already bottled and waiting to settle down is the 2015 Patience.  This blend of 55% Merlot, 17% Sangiovese, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 13% Petit Verdot is surely to be the next knockout red wine for the Dotsons. When you come, plan on spending a long afternoon sitting, visiting and enjoying yourself.  There’s no rush or hurry in Pontatoc. Alphonse has some great stories to tell while you sip and enjoy these wonderful wines.  We’re looking forward to the next outing here and hope we’ve inspired you to make the journey as well!  Cheers!

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Hye is becoming a popular location along the HWY 290 wine corridor in Texas.  Zero 815 is one more winery to add to your next visit in the Hye area.  The husband and wife team, Karl and Laura Hogsett, just opened their tasting room a little more than a week before Christmas.  Just in time for the holidays! The winery name comes from their anniversary date, 08/15.  How cool is that!  With their passions now in full gear, you’ll get to try some great Texas wines.  Bending Branch and McPherson are helping this new winery get off on the right sip with their initial batch of wines.  The grapes for their wines are sourced from some quality vineyards, like Newsom, Reddy, and Lepard.  There are five wines to try out.  The first is a 2015 Muscat (50/50 Muscat Blanc/Muscat Canneli) that has that nice dry citrus feel you expect from a Muscat.  The 2015 Blush is a light and tropical white blend that’s easy drinking for many occasions.  The 2014 Mourvedre has a nice long finish and an enticing cranberry color. The 2015 Rilassato is a Malbec/Mourvedre/Petite Sirah Blend (50/25/25) made in French and American oak. The tannins are balanced and the berry flavors are a delight.  The 2015 Hyeland Blend is a “tweaked” version of the Rilassato with (37.5/37.5/25) Malbec/Mourvedre/Petite Sirah. The Hyeland Blend has as similar tasting profile as the Rilassato but with a bigger mouth feel and a longer finish. Planned for future releases are a Zinfandel, a white blend of just about everything, and a Tempranillo Rose’.  The Hogsetts have plenty of acreage (14) on their estate.  You’ll get some really nice views looking down the Pedernales Valley.  Karl plans to plant Picpoul Blanc out on the front of the estate and an undecided red in the back.  This place will look fabulous driving in when those future vines mature.  Stop in on your next trip through Hye and spend some time with Karl and Laura as they share their love for wine with you.

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Ron Yates, co-owner of Spicewood Vineyards, has opened this fantastic 16-acre scenic winery along the fast-growing US HWY 290 winery corridor.  Upon driving onto the property, you’ll notice off to the right the majestic field of four acres of Tempranillo vines to greet you.  Pull up to the large 6,000 square foot production building and you’ll have a nice patio view out front to enjoy your tasting session.   They’ve had their “soft” opening since September and have been taking appointments for you to enjoy your tasting sessions.

If you’ve loved the wines from Spicewood, then you’re going to be in for a treat at Yates!  The same great winemaker, Todd Crowell, is making the wines here as well.  In addition to Texas wines, you’ll also get to try some great tasting wines made from high quality fruit from some fantastic vineyards along the west coast.  Yates wines has allowed the winemaker to expand and branch out into making some different types of high quality creations.

There are currently nine wines for you to try on their tasting menu.  The first three are whites.  The 2015 Sauvignon Blanc has a lovely crisp taste for those days when it’s summer in December in Texas.  Next is the 2015 Viognier.  Yates does Texas proud with this fine wine that does well for the state.  The last white is a 2015 Albarino sourced from Bingham Family Vineyards.  This is another up and coming Texas white varietal that has some intense peachy aromas only to be complimented by its crisp texture.  The 2014 Pinot Noir is a very super (and we mean “super-duper”) fine one to taste.  Sourced from the Russian River Valley, this dry and full mouth feel red leaves you longing to savor many more bottles no matter the price!  You can pick up some of that great Texas dirtiness in the 2014 Tempranillo.  Yes, this is what earthy is all about!   The 2014 Mourvedre, sourced from Bingham Family Vineyards, is a light and smooth red wine to enjoy on a lazy afternoon.  Sourced from Washington, the 2014 Garnacha has beautiful strawberry notes.  The 2014 Zinfandel is sourced from Dry Creek in Sonoma.  This red wine is light and dry and an easy drinking red for everyone to enjoy.  Other future wines in the making will be a Carignan (oh yeah!) as well as a possible Touriga blend.

The current vineyard is in its second leaf with plans to add about 10 acres of more vines.  It will be one fabulous entrance once these vines are lush and mature.  You’ll see next to the vineyard another future tasting room being constructed.  And there are plans to include yet another large tasting room for visitors to enjoy these wonderful wines.  Did we mention a salt water pool, as well?  Now that will add a unique twist that no other winery currently offers!

You’ll be very pleased with your visit here and will be eager to see how the place expands and grows over time.  Mark this spot on your list for a visit and a repeat visit in the future!