Jul 252013

Jeff Cope – TXwineLover

It’s the Right Time for Texas Roussanne

Several years ago, in 2010, I experienced what I referred to back then as the breakout year for Texas Tempranillo. Texas wineries went from offering maybe only four or five Tempranillo wines statewide the previous year to over 30 Tempranillo wines and blends in 2010 – See my blog: Texas Tempranillo – It’s Coming on Strong; Consumers, You Better Get Ready http://vintagetexas.com/blog/?p=2400.

Well, a couple weeks ago on a Saturday night, Jeff Cope (@TXwineLover) organized a tasting at Nice Winery in Houston, Texas. He called it, “The Battle of the Texas Roussannes”. Details of the tasting and how it was assembled and his analysis of the blind tasting results are on his website at: http://txwinelover.com/2013/07/battle-of-the-texas-roussannes.

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If you need to take a step back and ask, “What’s Roussanne anyway?” Check out the following link to get more details on this grape that hails from the south of France (a place the really doesn’t look much different than parts of the hill country or west Texas. It’s one of several white blending grapes used to make white Rhone blends: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roussanne.

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What I found interesting at Jeff’s tasting event were two things…

First, Jeff was actually able to round up 15 Texas Roussannes and I contributed two more to make it and “even” 17 Texas Roussannes. They varied in vintage date from 2009 through 2012. Most were single varietal wines but some were blends. Most were vintage dated, but at least one was multi-vintage. More details on the wines and a complete listing are available on Jeff’s blog cited above.

The notable point is that the tasting actually involved 17 Texas Roussanne wines and I know that there some notable missing wines like those from Perissos Vineyards that has offered a dry Roussanne and a Roussanne blend, their semi-sweet “Sweet Lucy” composed of Roussanne (44%), Viognier (44%), and Muscat (12%).  This qualifies 2013 as the breakout year for Texas Roussanne.

Secondly, when I looked at my tasting sheet after the evening’s festivities were finished, by far, the lion’s share of the Texas Roussannes and blends were very respectable and palatable wines. When I reported the good results to Texas high plains viticultural consultant Bobby Cox from Lubbock, he didn’t really seem to surprised.


Bobby Cox – Texas Viticultural Consultant

Bobby said, “It was part of our plan all along to spread our Roussanne around to as many Texas wineries as possible. It buds later than most white grapes and should produce a good crop in most years. It’s also a grape that can be easily made into a decent wine even in rudimentary winery operations. It just doesn’t take a lot of special technique or equipment like some grapes do. After all, if you’ve seen how they make their wines in southern France, you shouldn’t be surprised that we can do a decent job of it here in Texas.”

What Bobby talked about is something I’ve actually experienced from my trips to small, family-run Rhone valley wineries…generation’s old concrete fermenting vats and all. I understood him completely.

According to my notes, I rated six of the 17 wines at 90 points or better on a typical 100-point wine judging scale. These were wines from McPherson Cellars, Calais Winery, Brennan Vineyards and Becker Vineyards. Another six were rated above 80 and 89, and these were respectable wines. Three of my lower rated wines were from one winery that appears to need some help (and I was told it usually makes red wines). Two others appeared to have issues related to the cork or possibly storage conditions.

One of the Roussannes that I took to Jeff’s tasting was a 2009 Reserve Roussanne made by a hill country winery from Texas high plains fruit. It was significantly French oak aged, and frankly, when first released I didn’t really care for it. However, after several years of bottle age, it showed very well at this tasting, and it was my second highest scoring wine. This suggests that Roussanne made in Texas has similar characteristics as the French have noted. Chardonnay drinkers, please listen-up! That is, Roussanne can be a very age worthy white wine (like Chardonnay) and gains depth and complexity with bottle age.

The only thing that appears could  hold up Roussanne from further gains in Texas in the coming years is the bad to horrendous spring weather the Texas high plains has seen this year. According to Bobby, “Good God! This year, the best I can say is that we WILL have a Roussanne harvest, and that’s more than I can say for Viognier that got hit severely this spring. Roussanne that buds later than most whites still took a hit by the late 2013 freezes but not like the early budding Viognier.”

Great job Jeff. What do you have ready for the next tasting? Texas Tempranillo, Aglianico, Montepulciano or Mourvedre? Texas has lots of what most wine drinkers might consider “new” or “unusual” or perhaps “no-name” varieties of grapes from which you can chose.

Line-up of Texas Roussanne

Line-up of Texas Roussanne

 Posted by at 4:01 pm
Jul 192013

Texas IS the Mediterranean of the USA!

First Ever “Taste Texas Wines” Hospitality Suite At Texsom: Somms, Ethusiasts, Get Your Taste of Texas

Sponsored by Texas Monthly, Suite to Feature Four Premier Wineries Pouring Award-Winning Wines and Consumer Favorites

News Release – For the first time ever, four of the Lone Star State’s most distinguished wineries have joined together to host a “Taste Texas Wines” hospitality suite at the 9th annual TEXSOM, a two-day educational and tasting conference for sommeliers and wine buyers, enthusiasts and educators. Featuring only Texas appellation wines, the Taste Texas Wines hospitality suite is Sunday, August 11 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. for registered TEXSOM conference attendees.

Sponsored by Texas Monthly, the Taste Texas Wines hospitality suite features wines that were recognized as “Best Texas Wines of 2012,” which included 10 red and 10 white wines from Texas appellations.

Brennan Vineyards, Duchman Family Winery, McPherson Cellars and Pedernales Cellars will share some of their finest wines, all of which have received national and international acclaim at prestigious wine competitions, and represent some of the best wines produced in Texas. The owners of these wineries will be available at the suite to discuss their wines and the growing Texas wine industry. The list of wines to be tasted is given at the bottom of this release.

VintageTexas note: Notice that there is almost not a Texas Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet or Pinot to be had. FINALLY! Texas IS the Mediterranean of the USA! Something that I’ve said before is “Texas is not Bordeaux and  it sure as hell ain’t Burgundy!”  It’s about time that we embrace what our wine country can deliver: grapes that stand up to the heat and make wonderful wines in the style of the Mediterranean.

“We are happy that these four wineries have banded together to promote not only the individual wineries, but also the dynamic Texas wine industry as a whole,” says James Tidwell, MS, TEXSOM co-founder. “While TEXSOM is an international conference, Texas wineries have a significant presence at the various events and activities, including the Grand Tasting and Awards Reception and educational seminars. The Taste Texas Wines Hospitality Suite is a natural extension that allows even more wine professionals from around the world to experience Texas wines and winemakers.”

Tidwell notes that Brennan Vineyards 2011 Lily as well as the Pedernales Cellars 2012 Viognier and 2010 High Plains Tempranillo won gold medals at the 2013 Dallas Morning News and TEXSOM Wine Competition.

In addition, at the 2013 Lyon France International Wine Competition, Pedernales Cellars received grand gold for its 2012 Viognier Reserve. At the 2013 Pacific Rim Wine Competition, McPherson Cellars was awarded gold and best in class for its 2012 Dry Chenin and Brennan Vineyards received gold for its 2011 Tempranillo. Brennan Vineyards also won the chairman’s award (unanimous gold) for its 2011 Dark Horse at the 2013 Riverside International Wine Competition.

At the 2013 San Francisco International Wine Competition, McPherson Cellars and Pedernales Cellars both earned gold medals for their 2011 La Herencia and 2011 Tempranillo Reserve, respectively. Taking home silver at the competition was Pedernales for its 2011 GSM; Duchman Family Winery for its 2011 Trebbiano and 2011 Dolcetto, as well as bronze for its Tempranillo; and Brennan Vineyards earned silver for its 2012 Viognier, as well as bronze for its 2012 White Rhône Blend and 2011 Tempranillo.

At the 2013 Lone Star International Wine Competition, the Brennan Vineyards won gold and grand star award for its 2012 Lily; Pedernales Cellars won double gold for both its 2010 High Plains Tempranillo and 2010 Tempranillo Reserve and gold for its 2011 GSM ; and McPherson Cellars received gold for its 2012 Les Copains.

At the 2013 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo International Wine Competition, Pedernales Cellars won double gold, Top Texas Wine, Class Champion and Texas Class Champion awards for its 2012 Texas Viognier, as well as gold for its 2010 Texas Tempranillo.

TEXSOM attendees will enjoy many of these award-winning wines and others at the Taste Texas Wines Hospitality Suite. Here is a complete list of wines that will be poured:

Brennan Vineyards


  • 2012 Viognier
  • 2012 Lily
  • 2011 Dark Horse
  • 2011 Tempranillo
  • 2010 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

Duchman Family Winery


  • 2011 Trebbiano
  • 2011 Viognier
  • 2011 Dolcetto
  • 2011 Tempranillo

McPherson Cellars


  • 2012 Les Copains
  • 2011 La Herencia
  • 2012 Dry Rosé Vin Gris
  • 2012 Dry Chenin
  • 2010 Sangiovese

Pedernales Cellars


  • 2012 Viognier
  • 2012 Viognier Reserve
  • 2011 Texas Tempranillo
  • 2010 Texas High Plains Tempranillo
  • 2011 GSM

For more information about the Taste Texas Wines hospitality suite and the Texas wine industry go to www.TasteTexasWines.com.

 Posted by at 12:57 pm
Jun 172013


Texas Viognier Is Rocking the Wine World Against Big Names in California and France

Yesterday, I received this media release from Andrew Chalk, who you’ve known as a wine writer and blogger at D Magazine and currently editor of CraveDFW. It is another arrow in the quiver for the still fledgling but rapidly rising Texas wine movement.  See Andrew’s comments below…

This weekend, sixteen Texas Viognier wines went head to head competing with each other, two California Viognier wines and a Viognier from the modern home of the grape, Condrieu, France in a blind taste test judged by seven professional sommeliers.  The result, Texas wines took the top six spots.

The full results are here:

RANK (1 is highest) WINE NAME
1 2012 Pedernales Cellars Reserve ($40)
2 2011 Brennan Vineyards ($17.50)
3 2012 Becker Vineyards ($15)
4 2012 McPherson Cellars ($14)
5 2012 Lost Oak Winery ($21)
6 2012 Pedernales Cellars ($18)
7 2011 Melville ‘Verna’s”, Santa Barbara County, CA ($25)
8 2012 Flat Creek Estate
8 2012 Perissos Vineyard and Winery
10 2010 Calera, Mt. Harlan CA ($34)
10 2011 Cross Timbers Winery
12 2010 LightCatcher Winery
13 2012 Llano Estacado Winery, TX Raider
14 2011 Landon Winery
15 2011 Saint Cosme Condrieu, France ($65)
16 2012 Landon Winery
17 2010/11 Blue Ostrich Winery & Vineyard
18 2012 Kiepersol Estates Winery
19 2010 Llano Estacado Winery, ‘Mont. Sec Vineyards’

Notes: All the wines from Texas wineries are designated “Texas Viognier” on the label. Texas wine prices are from the winery web site for a single bottle purchase. Case discounts usually apply. Prices for the other wines are single bottle prices that I paid at retail stores in Dallas.

Why The Tasting?

The organizer of the event, Andrew Chalk, an editor at CraveDFW, said “I put together this tasting because, after four years touring over 80 Texas wineries, I concluded that Viognier was the white grape that was most successful in the state. In fact, I felt it was reaching a level comparable with California Viognier (although maybe not that of France). I was baffled that the national media did not include Texas wines when they evaluated Viognier. Clearly, this was a matter that only the facts would settle: a blind tasting of French, California and Texas Viognier by expert palates to determine where the wines stood.”

Choosing The Wines

Chalk contacted every Texas winery and asked them to supply two bottles of each Viognier they made that was currently available for resale. The wineries came through with 13 wineries supplying 16 wines. As a result this was not just a sample, but every Viognier made in Texas (the only known absentee was Cap Rock Winery).

Next, he needed a strong California benchmark for comparison. He asked Sigel’s wine buyer, Jasper Russo, to pick three, and Chalk would buy the first two that he found at retail in Dallas.  Russo suggested: Miner Family Vineyard, Calera, and Melville. Chalk found the 2010 Calera, Mt. Harlan, $34 (91 points, Wine Advocate) and the 2011 Melville Estate Viognier “Verna’s”, $25 (91 points, International Wine Cellar) and purchased them.

“Finally”, said Chalk,” I needed a wine from the modern home of the Viognier grape, and the place that is still regarded as the benchmark. I chose the 2011 Saint Cosme, Condrieu because this $65 wine scored over 94 points out of 100 in web reviews and is made by maybe the most decorated producer in the Rhône over the past two years. I expected this wine to win hands down, the compensation being that it was over twice the price of most of the Texas entrants.”

Choosing The Judges

Chalk said “I figured that if I did the judging the results would be about as credible as Paris Hilton challenging Newton’s Laws of Motion. So I emailed every professional sommelier in town and invited them to be a judge.  On the day, seven sommeliers came to The WinePoste.com and spent two hours in silence comparing nineteen wines and passing written judgment. “

Chalk excluded himself from the scores reported above as he was involved in the packaging and preparation for the tasting. He also knew the identity of the non-Texas wines and any of this could be conceived as biasing the result.

The Results

The results are a stunning endorsement of Texas Viognier. Chalk had hoped Texas would be close behind the Californians and the Condrieu. In fact, no fewer than six Texas wines beat the first non-Texas wine (the Melville from California), and the expensive Condrieu was beaten by 12 Texas wines. The top three were all experienced Texas producers: Pedernales Cellars in Stonewall in the southern Hill Country, Brennan Vineyards in Comanche, a scant 90 minutes drive from Dallas, and Becker Vineyards, probably the best known of these three producers, also in Stonewall .  Two relatively new producers: McPherson Cellars out of Lubbock in The High Plains, and Lost Oak Winery, in Burleson, just south of Fort Worth, placed fourth and fifth.

Feedback From The Judges

Writing about the winning wine, 2012 Pedernales Cellars Reserve, Russell Burkett  (wine director at Sēr at The Hilton Anatole) commented that it had “ripe stone fruits, long finish, notes of honeysuckle and white flowers and light minerality”. Aaron Benson, sommelier at the Dallas Country Club, described it as “classic Viognier…an underlying minerality balances the redolent ripe fruit” and gave it a commanding 92/100 point rating.

Regarding the second-placed 2011 Brennan Vineyards, Hunter Hammett, sommelier of The Fairmont Hotel, Dallas gave some advice to the winemaker that it was “a bit thin to be excellent but a great example of this classic Rhône varietal”. Simon Holguin, general manager at the forthcoming Kitchen LTO, said that it “finishes delicately”.

Benson and Hammett, two judges who work the floor each night trying to deliver the most suitable wine to their customers, when asked about selling Texas Viognier said that selling a Texas Viognier is no harder than selling any other Viognier. The problem is selling Viognier. It is a “hand sale”, meaning that it is up to the sommelier to make the case to the customer, who typically has over 100 choices on the wine list. Hammett suggested wineries provide more guidance as to what food was intended to go with the grape. He pointed out that the choice of compatible food is not as broad as with Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay.

The Implications

Texas Viognier has come of age. Chalk said “For the customer, next time you shop for a white wine, consider purchasing one. Next time you are looking for a white wine on a restaurant wine list, ask for a Texas Viognier. Even if there isn’t one on the list at the time, sommeliers choose based on customer feedback. If you are a sommelier, check the results of this tasting for the quality and value most suitable for your list. If you are a publication that reviews wines, Texas Viognier has now shown that it deserves a place at the table for your next Viognier review

To order these wines: Some wines are available at retail stores in Texas. Others are available direct from the winery (all can ship to consumers in Texas and more widely dependent on state and Federal wine shipping rules).

The Judges

Karla Barber – International Sommelier Guild

Aaron Benson – Dallas Country Club

Russell Burkett – SER, Hilton Anatole Hotel, Dallas

Hunter Hammett – The Pyramid Restaurant and Bar

Simon Holguin – GM, Kitchen LTO

Jeremy King – Gaylord Texan Resort

Steve Murphey – Mid-West Wine

Contact: Andrew Chalk, Editor CraveDFW. +1 (214) 597-4659

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For those of you that may not have seen the following release before. The first place wine from Andrew’s competition also has some major international accolades to it’s name gained in Lyon France at the 2013 Concours International des Vins à Lyon (Lyon International Wine Competition).


Pedernales Cellars is proud to announce that its 2012 Viognier Reserve won the prestigious Grand Gold award – the French version of the Double Gold at American wine competitions – at the 2013 Concours International des Vins à Lyon (Lyon International Wine Competition), held earlier this year.

Pedernales Cellars was the only American winery to win the Grand Gold – this year, a select group of 201 wines won the competition’s highest honor, from a record pool of more than 3200 entrants. The majority of winning wines in this year’s competition were French, though two other Texas wineries (Becker and Flat Creek) won silver and bronze medals respectively for their Viognier entries.

According to Pedernales Cellars co-owner, Dr. Julie Kuhlken, the winery was encouraged to enter the competition at the urging of Melba Allen, a French wine consultant with Oeno-com, who felt that Pedernales Cellars’ signature white varietal compared favorably to French versions of the wine. Pedernales Cellars then coordinated with Becker and Flat Creek to send the trio of Texas Viogniers across the Atlantic for consideration.

“It’s absolutely an honor to be awarded with a double gold in a major French wine competition,” said David Kuhlken, winemaker at Pedernales Cellars. “It speaks well to the evolution of Texas wine that a Texas-grown Viognier can be awarded at this level, at a competition held in the heart of the Rhone region where Viognier thrives.”

The 2012 Viognier Reserve will be available for sale starting on May 17; bottles and cases can be ordered by calling or visiting the winery’s tasting room. Visitors to the winery can also sample the brand-new Spring 2013 nine-varietial tasting, highlighting white, red, and dessert wines that flourish in the Texas terroir, including the winery’s latest takes on Albarino, Tempranillo, and Moscato Giallo.

Pedernales Cellars will participate in two of the premier food festivals in Texas later this month — the Buffalo Gap Wine & Food Summit, April 19-21, and the Austin Food & Wine Festival, April 26-28.

For more information about Pedernales Cellars, including tasting room hours, events, and wines available for online purchase, please revisit the newly-redesigned and relaunched website at pedernalescellars.com.

 Posted by at 10:18 am
May 282013


Wicked Weather in the Vineyard: An Open Letter 5/22/2013

VintageTexas Note: I received this message in an email last week from Julie Whitehead at Blue Ostrich Winery and I asked her to share it in an open letter. I believe that her statements typify the grit and gumption of our Texas winegrowers in their yearly battle with the elements of Mother Nature. Please keep in mind that Texas is but one state that is working to discover its terroir.

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The unparalleled force of nature is never taken for granted in our part of the country. Growing grapes and making wine in a region where we experience frost in April, followed by violent storms in May, would be enough to make anyone scratch their head and wonder, “why do we do this?” Nevertheless, we persevere, as this is what we love to do.

Although we have been on a high state of alert, this week’s storms had minimal direct impact on our facility. Our hearts and minds go out to our Oklahoma neighbors. Like many of you, Patrick, John and I have many friends and relatives in these affected Oklahoma communities, including several of our Blue Ostrich family of guests.

This weekend our vineyard and countryside will serve as a reminder that nature also has a beautiful and nurturing side as well. Come see how the rain has beautified our valley and our vines.

Julie Fredrick Whitehead

Blue Ostrich Winery & Vineyard

Hours: Thurs 12pm – 6pm | Fri & Sat 12pm – 7pm | Sunday 12pm – 5pm

Location: 5611 FM 2382 | Saint Jo, TX 76265

Contact Us: 940-995-3100




 Posted by at 8:17 am
May 222013

Paul Mitchell Bonarrigo (Photo from Messina Hof Winery)

News: Paul Mitchell Bonarrigo Receives UC Davis Winemaking Certificate

The credentials and winemaking accolades of Paul Mitchell Bonarrigo, son of Paul V. and Merrill Bonarrigo and heir-apparent at Messina Hof Winery, continue to grow.

As reported in a recent Messina Hof Winery Newsletter, Paul Mitchell has just received a Winemaking Certificate from the University of California, Davis extension program. Paul began apprenticing under his father, Paul V. Bonarrigo, as a child and teenager, and he grew up working in all of the areas of the winery.

For the past three years, Paul V. and Paul M. have been collaborating on winemaking duties here at Messina Hof all while Paul M. and their knowledge and expertise have grown that much stronger. An example of their combined winemaking ability is the recently awarded Messina Hof (Texas Appellation) Tribute to Heritage, Father and Son Cuvee, Naturally Sweet, Riesling 2012. This wine garnered a gold medal in the 2013 Dallas Morning News – Texsom Wine Competition (click here for more information)

The wines of Messina Hof appear to be in good hands now and for a long time into the future! Congrats to Paul Mitchell.

 Posted by at 7:42 pm
Apr 252013

Texas Viticultural Consultant Bobby Cox (left) and his flappy hat during the 2009 Spring Freeze

2013 Late Spring Frosts Texas: But, Winegrowers Live and Learn

“Hi there Bobby, How y’all doing up there?”

That’s how I started my conversation with Texas high plains viticultural consultant Bobby Cox this week. I already knew that Texas winegrowers were having a time of it with the “cold flashes” since mid-March.

Bobby said, “Well, where I’m sitting this morning, I’m looking at my iPad and its 32 degrees in Brownfield and wondering how much lower its going to go around here. We’ve been fighting it hard this spring. This year has already brought back memories of 1994. That was the year of the ‘double whammy’.”

What Bobby was referring to was the shock of two freezes that came in two episodes after the vines started to bud out. For grape growers and their vines, it was like double barreled shot gun blasts that left many vines wilted along with their tenders.

I asked Bobby for a comparison between this year’s spring freezes and those in 1994.

He said, “This year, we’ve already had the double whammy. We had double freeze events about 10 days apart; one at the end of March and the second in early April. And, if it freezes again tomorrow it will be a ‘triple whammy’. But, you know, I think that the growers in Texas are in much better shape in 2013 than they were after the late freezes of 1994.”

Here’s the deal, the way I understand it from Bobby’s description.

After Texas’s Llano Estacado Winery won a gold medal in California way back in 1984 for their Chardonnay, lots of people planted all around Texas said, “Let’s plant Chardonnay”. By 1994, about 30 percent of the acreage of Texas grapes was Chardonnay – the darling grape of the Burgundy region of France and California’s Napa Valley, and apparently with lots of starry-eyed Texans, back then.


Gold Medal Winning Llano Chardonnay

Bobby said, “Chardonnay just doesn’t handle the kind of weather we have in Texas at all. First, it wakes up far too early in the spring and starts to push buds and send out shoots. Well, it’s primary buds get frosted and its secondary buds are just not fruitful.”

Well, according to Bobby, there is not much Chardonnay planted in Texas anymore and for good reason…it just doesn’t do well here. It’s working itself out of Texas vineyards as people learn. Texas winegrowers are starting doing a better job now of what he calls “varietal selection”. That is, choosing grape varieties that start to bud later and “site selection” that basically means, don’t plant in low lying locations where the coldest air tends to hang out.

Bobby said, “The good news this year is that so far, anyway, Marsanne and Roussanne appear to have full crop potential in most vineyards, as do Trebbiano, Picpoul Blanc and Malvasia Bianca.”

I commented, “They’re not exactly household names!”

He responded, “This year’s results will add emphasis to the switch from the more common California varieties, because in general, these grape have the characteristics we need in Texas to handle the weather.”

Bobby admitted that this year’s spring freezes have been very hard on Viognier, a grape that’s had great acclaim in Texas and made some well-awarded wines.

Bobby said, “I originally planted Viognier at Cliff Bingham’s place as they were organic at the time. I knew that Viognier could handle the heat, it budded a bit early for Texas, but it is very disease resistant and does not rot. So, I figured that we could manage the frost situation. But, keep in mind that what we’ve seen with this year’s frosts, it’s been about 20 years since we’ve had spring freeze events like this. It’s not the normal situation.”

According to Bobby, some red grapevines got hurt in the freeze that occurred April 18-19 even though this is generally less of a problem since they tend to bud out later than white grape vines. He included Tempranillo in the damage, but from prior experience in Texas, Tempranillo can manage a decent crop on its secondary buds. Generally, better sited vineyards (those not planted in low spots) did substantially better than others.

One final note from Bobby was that growers are working to fight spring frost with a new version of very old vineyard technology – application of a Copper-based fungicide (copper was used on grapevines in Europe since the 1840s). But, the new twist is that it also works against ice-nucleating bacteria that reside on the vines, and the application of the fungicide depresses the freeze temperature on the vines down to about 28 F. It’s an approach used on strawberries produced in colder regions.

Bobby reflected a moment on this growing season’s hard start.  Then, with the positive attitude required for anyone that considers themselves a serious farmer and especially if they are dead-set on breaking new ground in Texas winegrowing, Bobby said, “This is a year that separated the men from the boys on vineyard techniques and varietal selection. Live and learn that’s what I say!”


Bobby Cox and his wife Jennifer


 Posted by at 2:01 pm
Apr 232013


15th Annual Lavender Festival at Becker Vineyards

Join fellow Texas wine lovers for the 15th annual and best ever Becker Vineyards Lavender Festival. Sip and swirl with live music, artisans and lavender fields in bloom.

There will be lavender products, plants, vendors, cooking demos, guest speakers, culinary delights, concessions, wine tasting & tours, vintner luncheons & dinner, music and much more.

This event is complimentary but there is a $5.00 parking fee. 

In addition, you can chose to participate in luncheons scheduled on Saturday, April 27th and Sunday, April 28th.

Saturday Luncheon

The exclusive 15th annual Lavender Festival Vintner Luncheon, featuring Rails Cuisine. This delectable menu is expertly paired with Becker Wines. Click here for details of the Saturday luncheon gourmet fare and pricing.

Sunday Luncheon 

The exclusive 15th annual Lavender Festival Vintner Luncheon, features Alfreds Catering. Imbibe on the delectable menu expertly paired with Becker Wines.  Click here for details of the Sunday luncheon gourmet fare and pricing.

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At these luncheons listen to Dr. Richard & Bunny Becker recall how the lavender fields of Provence inspired them nearly 20 years ago.

This year we are pleased to announce a portion of our net proceeds will benefit our dear friend and candidate for 2013 Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Man & Woman of the Year Blake Miller! See Blake’s campaign and journey HERE

 Posted by at 8:39 pm
Apr 192013


Write Off the Vine: Texas Wine News – Texas Wine and Festivals Expanding

Amazon Expands Wine Sales to Texas

Peter Faricy, vice president for Amazon Marketplace, said, “We’re very excited for Texas wineries to share their highly-ranked selection with our millions of customers through the Amazon Wine store. Our customers tell us they enjoy our wine-country selection combined with the convenience of finding detailed wine information in one place. We want to connect customers with wineries around the country and provide a destination where they can learn about and purchase wines directly from wineries on the platform they trust.”

More: http://www.texaswineandtrail.com/amazon-expands-wine-sales-to-texas/

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2013 Hill Country Wine & Music Festival: Texas Wine Tasting and Food Pairing Evening – April 26th

Texas Wine Tasting and Food Pairing Evening with book signing by Chef Terry Thompson Anderson and writer/author Dr. Russell Kane will raise funds for the Texas Center for Wine and Culinary Arts slated for construction in Fredericksburg, Texas.

Perhaps you’ve heard about the last year’s Hill Country Wine & Music Festivals first time wine and food pairing event (check here). It was a night of fine outdoor dining, live music and excellently paired Texas wines with Chef Terry Thompson Anderson and writer/author Dr. Russell Kane providing their interesting stories about what made the wine and food match.

More: http://vintagetexas.com/blog/?p=9206

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Granbury Wine Walk April 26-27th

Situated in picturesque downtown Granbury, the 4th annual Wine Walk showcases Texas wine (15 wineries!), food, music and art at its finest. Stroll to outdoor booths for wine tasting and Texas cuisine; enjoy live music and a wine-themed art show and sale from the Lake Granbury Art Association (www.granburywinewalk.com).

WHEN: Wine Walk will be on Friday and Saturday, April 26-27, from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. | “Sip & Savor” VIP kick-off Eventwill be on Thursday, April 25, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

More: http://www.texaswineandtrail.com/granbury-wine-walk-april-26-27th/

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Austin Food & Wine Festival April 27, 2013: Texas Wines – Ready for the Main Stage

The 2013 Austin Food & Wine Festival is coming up fast and on Saturday morning April 27, 2013, a distinguished panel, a selection of gold medal wines and over a hundred participants will come together for a guided tasting at this year’s festival.

I will curate this tasting of Lone Star vino alongside premiere wine talent from the Lone Star state and beyond. This talent will include Austin’s advanced and master sommeliers Devon Broglie, Craig Collins and June Rodil, and FOOD & WINE Magazine’s Executive Wine Editor, Ray Isle. They will lend their expertise to this delicious discussion.

When commenting on his participation in this panel Ray Isle said, “As an expat Texan stuck in the wilds of New York City, the opportunity to come back to Austin and taste & talk about six great wines from my home state is one I look forward to pretty much all year long. The fact that I can run off with the leftover bottles and drink them with some worthwhile barbecue afterward doesn’t hurt either….Not that I’d ever break the rules and do that, of course.”

More: http://vintagetexas.com/blog/?p=9102

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From the Ground Up – Texas Wine Industry

“It’s a matter of trying to find the right varieties of grapes that really grow in the right regions of the state,” says Texas A&M Vice-Chancellor and Dean of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

“When you look at a hybrid grape variety like we have here, Blanc Du Bois, it was bred by the University of Florida, and it has resistance to Pierce’s Disease and other fungal diseases, so it grows very well. It flourishes in this area, and makes very good wine,” says Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Vitaculture Program Specialist Fritz Westover Fritz Westover.

More: http://www.kbtx.com/home/headlines/From-the-Ground-Up—Texas-Wine-Industry-203760721.html

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Jeff Siegel – The Wine Curmudgeon

Wine Curmudgeon: Texas wine — 10 years after (part II)

Much has changed in the Hill Country wine business over the past decade that little has to do with the quality of the wine. The tasting rooms are more modern, more California in style and quite sophisticated; gone is the old “Mom and Pop, welcome to our dining room and have some wine” feel that was so common then.

Also new: tasting fees, which were unheard of a decade ago. Because, frankly, no one would have paid them. Consumers are also willing to pay top dollar for Texas wine. Few of the wines in the eight wineries I visited cost less than $20, but given the crowds, no one seemed to mind.

More and link to part 1: http://www.winecurmudgeon.com/my_weblog/2013/04/texas-wine-10-years-after-part-ii.html

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2013 Lost Pines Wine Fest Preview

The inaugural 2013 Lost Pines Wine Fest is Saturday, May 11, 2013 from noon – 6:00 p.m. at the Bastrop Brewhouse in Bastrop, Texas. All proceeds from this event will go to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Bastrop County.

The festival is partnering with the Bastrop Brewhouse to establish a great event they hope will turn into an annual event. The communities of both Bastrop and Smithville have been very supportive of the event and they are encouraging people in the area and from afar to enjoy a nice afternoon tasting good wine, music, and food.

More: http://txwinelover.com/2013/04/2013-lost-pines-wine-fest-preview/

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Texas Wine Gal: Pontotoc, Texas

Ever heard of it? You will soon. Carl Money and his family, which owns Pontotoc Vineyard, have big plans to turn this small section of a beautiful Texas highway into a Texas wine destination.

Read the front-page San Antonio Express News story by Jennifer McInnis who provides a great overview of the winery, its history and what’s to come.

Our group headed to Pontotoc to see first-hand the property and hear from Carl about his plans. Carl, his wife Frances and his uncle Ronnie (who runs the vineyard with the detail of a hawk) graciously welcomed us to their place, even putting us up for the evening in their several-bedroom home on the property (which has terrific potential to be a future B&B).

More: http://texaswinegal.tumblr.com/


Denise Fraser (right) – Texas Wine Gal

 Posted by at 1:54 pm
Apr 162013

Raymond Haak displaying his award winning Blanc Du Bois grapevines

Texas Blanc Du Bois Four Ways in 2013

Haak Vineyards & Winery Blanc Du Bois Scored High at Tasting Panel Magazine

Two Blanc Du Bois wines from Haak Vineyards and Winery (Santa Fe, TX) scored high and was in the company of notable (and mainstream) white wine varieties from notable regions like Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris from Oregon’s Willamette Valley according to wine ratings from Tasting Panel Magazine: Blue Reviews EXTRA! April 2013 by Anthony Dias Blue. His ratings were:

Sauvignon Blanc and Misc. Whites

  • Haak Vineyards & Winery 2012 Blanc du Bois, Dry Table Wine, Texas ($14). Score – 88; bright and crisp with dry citrus and fresh, tangy acidity similar to Sauvignon Blanc; silky, smooth and long.
  • Haak Vineyards Winery 2011 Blanc du Bois Reserve, Palacios Vineyard, Texas ($17). Score – 89; Smooth and fresh with dry, juicy citrus flavors and some hints of oak; fresh, balanced and complex with depth, charm and style.
  • Lake Chalice 2012 Sauvignon Blanc, The Nest, Marlborough ($15). Score 88; fresh and juicy with bright peach, citrus and grass; clean, racy and nervy with long, herbal notes. TWISTY
  • Sokol Blosser Winery 2011 Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley ($18). Score – 90; bright, bracing and crisp with racy citrus and aromatics; lovely texture and balance; long, juicy and complete.

Congrats to Raymond Haak for pioneering this hybrid grape for Texas. Raymond and Jerry Watson in Cat Springs took this grape variety under their wing and nurturing it until it now had qualities and scoring ability to compare with other great growing regions and their well-identified wines.

Two Recent Blanc Du Bois Tastings

In the past week, I’ve had two tastings involving recent vintages of Texas Blanc Du Bois. The first was Lost Oak Winery Blanc Du Bois 2011 (2o12 vintage is now available). The 2011 commanded a silver medal at the2013 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and in my tastings offers a crisp punch of citrus and tropical fruit including Meyer lemon and guava.


The second Blanc Du Bois tasting was a new offering from the dynamic duo of Bill Blackmon and Chris Brundrett at William Chris Vineyards. It was their 2012 Blanc Du Bois made from grapes grown in Washington County Texas. This wine is soft and friendly with aromas of citrus blossom and fresh and crunchy Bartlett pears on the palate.


Messina Hof Winery’s New Release of Blanc Du Bois

Also, please don’t forget the new offering of 2012 Blanc Du Bois from Messina Hof Winery. I tasted this wine around the first of this year and it was a know out too. Click here to link to my review of the Messina Hof Blanc Du Bois. It was memorable both as a first for Messina Hof and as a refreshing Texas quaff accompanying a quiet moment on the deck overlooking the Texas Hill Country.


So, there a lot happening is Blanc Du Bois in Texas. It now reaching the point were it can be easy be compared to and judged comparably with mainstream white wines made from classic vinifera, and it’s also catching the interest of the larger wineries in the state. Remember, this is closest thing that we have to a quality native-Texas. It might not have been originated here, but it got here as fast as it could. Then, Texans made it into the fine wine that it’s become. No place else in the modern wine world can say that about Blanc Du Bois. It’s ours, so savor it and enjoy!








 Posted by at 12:10 pm
Apr 112013
Amazon customers can purchase directly from Texas wineries

Amazon.com, Inc. announced that customers can now place orders on Amazon Wine (amazon.com/wine) for delivery to Texas. Amazon Wine offers vast wine-country selection and allows customers to purchase directly from their favorite wineries. In addition, customers are now able to purchase directly from Texas wineries, who join the more than 350 wineries and 2,200 labels already available on Amazon Wine.

“Llano Estacado is the largest premium winery in Texas, so we’re in most stores statewide but we’re not outside the state. When customers try our wines they will be very pleasantly surprised,” said Mike Laughlin, tasting room manager for Llano Estacado, located in Lubbock, Texas. “Amazon.com is a one-stop shopping place. With Amazon Wine, we will be able to get in front of millions of new customers.”

Customers will now have access to highly-rated Texas wines and can explore prestigious selection from Messina Hof, Becker Vineyards, McPherson Cellars, Brennan Vineyards and Llano Estacado, among others.

“The opportunity for Texas wineries to reach Amazon’s huge customer base is great exposure,” said Pat Brennan, owner and president for Brennan Vineyards, located in Comanche, Texas. “We’re a smaller winery that has distribution but just within a segment of Texas. We couldn’t be in every grocery shelf in the state. Adding our selection to Amazon Wine gives new customers in Texas and outside the state the opportunity to experience our product for the first time.”For more information go to Winebusiness.com: click here.

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 Posted by at 3:57 pm