Archives for posts with tag: wineries

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

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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!

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www.newsomvineyards.com

Argentina has come to Texas!  Did someone say Malbec, Malbec, and more Malbec?  This place is ground zero for the Malbec lovers.  Owners Bennett Sewell and Eugenia planted their winery roots on this property back in 2014 and opened their winery in 2015.  Bennett spent several years in the Mendoza region of Argentina and absorbed all things that made wine great there.  Eugenia is an established sommelier from Argentina and she knows her stuff!  The couple has two vineyards in the Mendoza region on the east side of the Andes.  The dry climate plus the meticulous viticulture practices only leads to some great tasting red wines from the region.  There are three tasting flights to choose from.  The first one, which are the lightest wine options available, includes whites with a Torrontes!  The second fight is the Estado Natura Malbecs and the third flight are the Reserve wines.  The Grand Reserva is also available and represent the quality work being done by this winery.  The 2010 Malbec Reserva has a nice smokiness that you like to savor in a rich red wine.  The 2013 Malbec Reserva has a good nuttiness.  Their 2014 Cabernet Reserva is not for the light hearted.  It’s a well-rounded mouth feel with great lasting finish that makes you realize why this varietal has a second home in Argentina.  Do try the 50/50 Malbec/Cab blend and be enticed by its spices and clove notes.  If you really want to taste the lands of the Andes, try the Estado Natura 2013 Malbec.  It’s has a pleasant earthiness that you expect and desire from these vineyards.  If available, ask to sample the 2009 Grand Reserva Malbec!  This wine has been aged for about two years, with some barrels set aside for an extra year.  The quality and texture of this wine is unbelievable! Everything that is in a good quality Malbec is exemplified in this wine.  They have not made this one since 2009, simply because the fruit has yet to meet their high standards for this wine.  Several bottles of these are worth your cellar space!  All throughout the tastings, don’t be surprised if visions of meat pairings start coming to mind. Do take the winding road off HWY 71 on your next wine trek and drive up the hill to this destination.  The surrounding views are spectacular, there is a lovely outdoor courtyard to enjoy, and the tasting room is very cozy and swanky with beautiful wooden tables and Argentinian décor, making you feel very comfortable as you enjoy the wine and great hospitality!

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www.elgauchowinery.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!

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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!

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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!

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www.baronscreekvineyards.com