Archives for category: Wineries

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

www.flaniganswineandspirits.com

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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!

IMAG3784 - Wines of Dotson-Cervantes

www.dotsoncervanteswines.com

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.

IMAG3551 - Zero 815

zero815winery.com

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!

imag3367-ron-yates

www.yateswines.com

Well, you’re in for a treat with a totally different wine tasting experience!  Owners Craig Mayer, Daniel Kelada, Travis Graves, and Allen Lucarelli have kicked started a new and refreshing way for customers to enjoy their tasting sessions.  Vinovium Partners has actually been around since 2012 offering services and products to the industry.  Their tasting room along Hwy 290 started soft openings back in early July.  What you’ll first notice about this place when you’re in the tasting room are the taps for pouring wine.   Yes, how cool is that? Vinovium (and yes, the name does reference the roman fort in England) uses a keg solution for pouring wine and selling to customers. Besides reducing cost, this also helps promote to customers that their wine is ready to drink now and drink well.  After your tasting session in the Growler Lounge, all you do is select what wine you like and they bottle it for you in a growler.  Bring it back when it’s empty, and you can enjoy more great wines from their selection.  (Nice way to recycle the bottles!) Once you get the hang of how it works, you’ll walk away and come back a satisfied wine lover and customer.  They try to use Texas grapes when the can for their wines, but they also have a great selection of wines made from grapes from around the world.  On the tasting menu, you’ll also get to see who the wine maker was for each wine.  Some of you may notice some familiar names from the Texas wine industry!  We got to try a great selection that included bubbly, whites, Rose’, reds, and then some using their “Old World style” glasses.  They happened to have a great Prosecco to try that was quite delicious.  We’ll save that bottle for a special celebration posting in the future.  The 2015 Texas Rose’ is made by Llano Estacado.  This blend of Cinsault, Zinfandel, Carignan, and Grenache has nice melon notes. The 2013 American Lot 37 is made by Tim Drake from Flat Creek.  There is nothing Tim touches that won’t turn out great!  This white mixture of Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Pinot Grigio has refreshing lemon flavors and some hints of avocado.   The California 2014 Chardonnay is very smoky, with a creamy texture. The 2014 Oregon Pinot Noir greets you with ripe bright berry flavor with some earthiness to it. The second Tim Drake creation is the Texas lot 83 NV blend.  Think of this Sangiovese, Syrah, Tempranillo blend as the Super Texan NV. Yes, it is quite good and does Super Texan proud!  The California 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon is pretty on the nose with some light herbal notes.  Next, was the Two Worlds NV blend.  Made from many different wine makers of old and new world grapes (Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Carignan, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay), you’ll get a complex meld of licorice notes with some nuttiness.  The 2012 Montsant is made by the famous former Becker winemaker Russel Smith.  The Master made a fantastic red blend of Grenache and Carignan.  It’s leathery rich and dark texture only adds to that full body experience and makes you want to linger over this glass. We also tried the Italian Moscato on hand made from the same place as the Prosecco.  It was sweet, dripping with a honeysuckle nose and pure joy on the palate. A great way to end the tasting session!  Did we mention that have espresso, too? How many times have you been on 290 and craved a shot of espresso or some great coffee and agonized that you have to drive all the way back to Fredericksburg or Marble Falls to get your fix?  Wine tasting or not, you can now stop here for an espresso shot too.  Vinovium plans on holding wine education classes.  These are a great educational opportunity to enhance and appreciate wine even more.  The great location and nice hill country scenery in the back makes for a great new place to sip and relax.  Staying open till 9pm just adds another spot to extend your day as you hang out with friends enjoying your trek into the Hill country wine region. They have definitely raised the bar on what’s trending with Texas wineries.  We look forward to many more visits and new wine offerings coming in the future. Because they produce small lots, they can turn over wine faster and provide broader options on their tasting menu, leaving you more opportunities to check out new things with every visit. Looking forward to seeing how their vision unfolds in the future. A bright new beginning on the 290 Hill Country wine trail. Cheers!

img_8772-vinovium

www.vinoviumpartners.com

You may have seen some of these wine brands at some local wine stores before.  Armadillo Leap is a sister winery of Pedernales Cellars with more focus on experimenting with non-Texas grapes.  Founded by the Kuhlken-Osterberg family, they opened last December on the popular US. HWY 290 wine road.  They are located where the Pink Pig restaurant used to be. It’s a nice and spacious building with a back deck that has great views looking west towards Fredericksburg.  Back during our visit in January, they had six Armadillo Leap wines, two Chlo-Jack wines from Bending Branch and a Glogg.  The first Armadillo Leap wine on the list is a Sparkling Moscato.  Sourced with grapes from New Mexico, it has citrus aromas and pleasant semi-sweet feel that would pair well with appetizers and snacks. The 2013 Viognier/Roussanne blend is a good balance of these two varietals.  The 2013 Viognier single varietal is pretty smooth and would pair well with some local spicy dishes.  The ‘Red’ is a Tempranillo from Lubbock that is fairly smooth with a long finish.  The ‘BFF’ is a lovely Italian style blend.  The “secret blend” (perhaps some Sangiovese, Montepulciano, and Dolcetto?) has very nice soft tannins and a pleasant long finish.  The last Armadillo Leap wine, Muscat, is a sweet dessert wine with strong citrus flavors.  The Chlo-Jack Rose’ is made from Servadou grapes.  It’s a good warm afternoon sipping treat.  The Chlo-Jack Red is a bold Petite Syrah for the dedicated red wine lover.  The Stonewall Glogg is one of the winery’s seasonal products that is fortified with 18% brandy.  It’s a great traditional spiced wine for winter and the holiday season.  Come check out this new place when you’re nearby and share a sip or two.

IMG_8324 - Armadillo Leap Winery

www.armadillosleap.com

It is as though a piece of Mediterranean winery architecture has materialized along the 290 wine corridor.  The look and feel of the Hill Country’s newest winery is quite breathtaking.  In addition to the main tasting rooms, are fantastic villas for overnight stays.  The interior of the tasting room is quite astonishing.  There are large vaulted ceilings, a spacious tasting room area, and smaller semi private tasting rooms. We think you’ll feel quite comfortable during your wine sipping session.  It certainly sets the mood for a great experience.  The Chase brothers (Mike, Chris, and Marc) opened their business in December 2015.  Just in time for the holidays!  Long time Texas wine fans are probably familiar with their winemaker, Russell Smith, who was also the winemaker at Becker Vineyards from 1999 – 2012.  Barons Creek is definitely in good winemaking hands!  Some of the wines are made on site and some are made in California.  Grapes are sourced from California and Washington.  You’ll have two flights to pick from for tasting.  So, if you come as a couple, that would be the best opportunity to try all of them.  Between the two flights, you’ll have about a dozen wines to sample.  Since we could write at length about each one, let’s focus on a few that will definitely peak your interest.  The 2014 Chardonnay from Sonoma is a nice buttery and not too oaky white. Quite refreshing!  You’ll be astonished by the neon-pink 2014 Rose! It’s got come crispness and it’s dry for when it gets 80+ degrees in January.  The 2013 Hippo is a co-fermented blend of Grenache and Syrah.  You’ll be very pleased with the smooth and pleasant finish on this one. It’s a more than one bottle choice!  Now let’s talk Zin!  While Texas Zinfandel grapes may currently be a challenge for winemakers, look no further than Dry Creek Valley for this 2012 Zinfandel wine. It has great acids, good dark fruit flavors and just dances across your taste buds. Consider it another multiple bottle buy, so don’t walk out the door second guessing yourself. The best red has to be the 2012 Le Baron.  It has everything you ever wanted to enjoy in a red blend. Mixed with Cabernet, Malbec, Syrah, Barbera, you’ll savor the toasted oak aromas, appreciate its complex flavors, gasp at its full bodied texture and best of all you’ll want to repeat the everlasting long smooth finish.  Yes, it is that good. Walk out with a case of this one.  But wait…there’s more! One red wine surprise is in store from winemaker Smith. His very own Montsant from Spain!  This 60/40 blend of Carignan and Grenache is why great wine deserves to be savored. You’ll pick out nutmeg, jam, and chocolate…oh my! With great body and a nice lingering finish, you’ll pack away more bottles than you thought you would.  The lone Texas wine is Sweet Dreams which is a port-style wine with good cherry and chocolate flavors.  You’ll be quite pleased with your wine tasting experience.  The staff is quite knowledgeable, very friendly, and easy to sip and chat with during your visit.  Do stroll around the grounds and admire the scenery.  If you get a chance, check out the tower that has great views of the property as well as the Pedernales Valley. Cheers!

2016-01-17 15.01.54 - Barrons Creek Vineyards

www.baronscreekvineyards.com