Archives for posts with tag: 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!

IMG_0879 - Hill Country Cellars

www.hillcountrycellarswinery.com

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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.

IMAG5586 - Scimitar Hill Vineyards

www.scimitarhill.com

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

 www.southoldfarmandcellar.com

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

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

Getting overwhelmed by the number of wineries along Texas U.S. HWY 290?  Next time, just hop over to Fredericksburg and take a visit to this wonderful new winery located just south of town on highway 16.  Owners John and Dabs Brown Hollimon have started their own pioneer dreams for the estate.  It’s not often that you get to visit a new winery that sits on property with such a rich history harkening back to the pioneer days of Fredericksburg.  The site was once the location of the owner Carl Hilmar Guenther who started Pioneer Flour Mills.  The original barn building and house are still on the property and are historical landmarks.  Dab’s family acquired the property in 1964.  She has since turned a vision of something more into reality by transforming this historic location into a quality vineyards and winery with the help of her husband John. You will have great views of the older buildings, vines, and ancient trees as you drive up to the tasting room.  On the estate are planted ten acres of Albarino, Tempranillo, Cabernet, Malbec, Petite Sirah, and Tannat from 2013.  There are plans to add Mourvedre and Alicante Bouchet.  Many Texas wine fans are familiar with the winemaker, John Rivenburgh.  John has crafted some fantastic wines for the 1851 Vineyards winery. Notice on the label the JD “cattle” branding representing the family collaboration of John Hollimon and Dabs.  The first batch of wines that 1851 has are grapes sourced from the Sierra Foothills for the reds and the Texas High Plains for the whites.  There are four wines to currently taste. The first is a dry Texas white blend of Muscat Canelli and Muscat Giallo.  It has a beautiful orange aroma and a nice bright citrus flavor. The 2014 Tempranillo is just superb!  With earthy aromas and an excellent rustic finish, you’ll have no problem stashing more of these bottles in your cellar!  For the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, you’ll get lots of nice fruit and cherry notes along with a hint of leather.  The 2014 Tannat is not for the timid.  If you LOVE red wine, then this hard-core red is for you. Be prepared for rich, strong tannins with a super long finish, and you’ll be happy with the bold berry flavors that this wine offers. Only four wines to try out you say?  Not to worry.  There are some other wines currently waiting to be released hopefully within the next two months. A 2014 Alicante Bouchet will be totally worth the wait.  We got to taste this (ok, maybe more than one taste) and it is just the epidemy of awesome red wine!  John has done a fabulous job on these initial releases and we look forward to more! Small crafted and attention to detail is what this winery aims for and is what they are achieving right out of the gate in producing high quality wines. The Hollimons also know a thing or two about great hospitality. You’ll enjoy your visit here and the warmth you’ll feel from the staff in this inviting tasting room. Don’t’ be surprised if you walk out with a case.  We’re really excited about this place and will make this one of our regular stops. Enjoy!

IMAG3561 - 1851 Vineyards

www.1851vineyards.com

Just about every serious Texas wine drinker is probably familiar with Newsom Vineyards.  Established in 1986, the vineyard has over 100 acres of vines in the Texas High Plains, one of the premier grape growing regions.  There are many wineries that source their grapes there and every time you see “Newsom Vineyards” on a label as the source of the grapes, the expectations will typically rise.  Neal and Janice Newsom’s son, Nolan, has taken on the venture of opening a tasting room in Comfort along with the help of his wife, Mei.  They just opened this November. The house they have renovated for the tasting room used to be the tasting room of the former Comfort Cellars, however they have preserved this piece of history by retaining that old wineries sign inside the tasting room just above the entrance. Much of the renovation inside the tasting room involved repurposing the walls and floors back to their original wood which really looks terrific for a home originally built over 100 years ago. At the tasting bar, there are currently four wines available. Since the Newsoms have a long established working relationship with many different wineries, they have worked with different winemakers to help make their initial wine releases.  This helps exemplify their fruit and the character of each winemaker’s techniques.  Driftwood, Bending Branch, Calais Winery, Lewis Wines, Llano Estacado, Pedernales Cellars, and Flat Creek Estate are all lending their wine making skills for the initial wine releases.  The first wine to taste is a dry Orange Muscat (2015).   The citrus and honeysuckle notes might throw you off at first and make you expect a sweet wine, but it actually comes across has quite smooth and refreshing as it is dry.  The 2015 Pinot Grigio is herbal with a tad bit of acidity.  For the reds, the 2014 LaVerne’s Merlot, has fruit sourced from some of the oldest Merlot vines on the vineyard lot (1993).  The garnet colored wine has notes of plums, berries, and pepper.  Letting this bottle sit for another year or two will only improve its character.  The other red is Inception and is a Tempranillo (58%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (42%) blend and is a good example of well-balanced high plains wine.  These are all some great wines to help get this new winery off to a wonderful launch. There are at least five more wines coming out early next year and yet more on the horizon.  For the near future, you can expect a 2015 Albarino, 2015 Sangiovese, 2015 Syrah, 2015 Malbec, and 2015 Cabernet Sauvginon.  This is a great addition to Comfort and a good boost to the downtown shops and restaurants.  You’ll have a good time tasting and chatting with Nolan and Mei who are very eager to showcase and share their latest wines and talk about their history and vision for their new winery. There is also a back porch where you can sit, relax, and sip down a bottle of Orange Muscat on those warm winter days in Texas.  Come visit them and see why Comfort is worth the trip. Cheers!

2016-12-18-14-42-50-newsom-vineyards-at-comfort

www.newsomvineyards.com