John Rivenburgh: Texas ‘Gipsy Winemaker’ Considers Opportune Times & Real Texas Wines
Sitting in the shady spot just off Fredericksburg’s busy Main Street with John Rivenburgh sharing some Texas wine, he said, “One day I knew I needed a change. Bending Branch Winery was a good place for me. But, I want to explore some new opportunities. Bending Branch’s Bob Young and I are still on good terms and we still plan to collaborate on some projects going forward. ”
The new opportunities that Rivenburgh now sees revolve around the changing paradigm in the Texas wine industry. We are coming on a time when many new vineyards are being planted in the hill country and many are entering their production phase that add substantial new acreage. As a result, there will be a lot more vines and grapes to work with, and in turn, a lot more Real Texas wines to be made.
“Where are we today?” John asked in a rhetorical tone. “We need more Texas wine. Sometime very soon, there will be a time like we have not yet seen. There will be so many Texas grapes available that wineries should not have to buy out-of-state of make their wines.”
I’m hoping that Rivenburgh is right. That will mean that the days of “For Sale in Texas Only” wines here will be a thing of the past. You think?
Rivenburgh wants to be the person with what he refers to as “the important combination of experience and reputation” that can assist anyone that is really serious about making hill country wines. Over the years at Bending Branch, Rivenburgh showed that he had a knack for exploring new grape varieties like Tannat that meet the demands of our Texas climate. Also, he has literally had his “hands in the mix” making gold medal winning wines from both established and “innovative” grape varieties.
“Some might be calling me a ‘Gipsy winemaker’ because I believe that I can help a number of hill country wineries up their winemaking game”, said Rivenburgh.” He even wants to make some wines that will carry his own “Rivenburgh Wines” brand, as well.
But, it’s not all about making wine for Rivenburgh. He said, “There are so many new growers that they need somebody with my viticultural expertise. With my background, I’m able to help new growers avoid costly mistakes in their vineyards. I can also work the other direction to help new wineries source their fruit specifically for the wines they want to make. In some cases, I might be bringing together both growers and wineries for their mutual benefit. That’s actually one business model that I’d prefer.”
An example of Rivenburgh’s ambitions is the relationship he has already established with John and Dabs Hollimon at 1851 Vineyards located south of Fredericksburg on Highway 16. He has provided assistance in all aspects of vineyard and winery operations down to varietal selection working under a multi-year contract.
Let’s wish Rivenburgh, one of our most favored ‘Gipsy Winemakers’, the best of success in his new business venture.