Jun 202014


Is It the Last Pour for Cap*Rock Winery?

It has been confirmed that the winemaking equipment from Cap*Rock Winery in Lubbock, Texas, has been purchased by up and coming Texas Custom Wine Works of Brownfield, Texas. This may be the last line in the history of the winery that started in the 1980s as Teysha Cellars with the hopes and hard work of winemakers Dr. Roy Mitchell and Michael Vorauer. Or, perhaps it’s the last pour…

Cap*Rock Winery arose from the ashes of Teysha Cellars which was started in 1988. In four short years, the ownership changed along with winery’s name . However, within a decade Cap*Rock”s fight to gain a foothold in the Texas wine marketplace brought still more bankruptcies and reorganizations. In 2010, Cap*Rock Winery was purchased at bankruptcy auction by Laurent Gruet (of New Mexico Sparkling Wine fame) who defaulted on the purchase despite that fact that he was the highest bidder and only needed 10% to continue the sale (click here). When this purchase didn’t take place, a second auction was held and Cathy and Jim Bodenstedt from San Antonio stepped in to purchased the winery (click here).

However, despite releasing many new Texas appellation wines, things were still not stable at Cap*Rock Winery. In 2013, Gary Sowder and Matt Hess, owners of VineyardAgent.com, purchased early in 2013 (click here). Since that purchase, there has been speculation as to what was going on at Cap*Rock Winery.

Well, today it was confirmed that the winery equipment at Cap*Rock was purchased by Texas Custom Wine Works and will be relocated to their facility in Brownfield, Texas. When called, the general manager confirmed that they, in fact, were able to help their friends at Cap*Rock Winery out by purchasing the equipment. Texas Custom Wine Works is a wine making facility and offers a comprehensive list of viticultural and winemaking services as the main line of their business (click here).

According to Dusty Timmons at Texas Custom Wine Works, they are bringing the equipment to their facility and have plans to expand the building. They also plan to be making wines for Cap*Rock. This means that, at least for the time being, there will be Cap*Rock wines in the marketplace.

We will just have to wait and see what’s next for the Cap*Rock building. It was a state-of-the-art destination winery when built. However, neither the young Texas wine industry of the 1980-2000s or it’s location in Lubbock far away from the wine tourist centers in Texas could sustain it. It is still a heck of nice place for parties and weddings and will provide someone a great venue.


from www.txwinelover.com

 Posted by at 6:57 pm
Jun 182014


Want to Learn How to Grow Grapes and Manage a Vineyard?

The Texas Viticulture Certificate Program, produced by Texas Tech University, is pleased to announce that applications are being accepted for the fifth cohort of students to begin the viticulture program this fall. Many of our graduates have gone on to start their own vineyards and wineries, or have secured employment in the Texas wine industry. See the program webpage link below for a few examples of what our graduates are doing, and for complete details about the Viticulture Certificate Program. The application form can be downloaded from the webpage:

Texas Viticulture Certificate Program: http://winegrapes.ttu.edu/viticulturecertificate.html

Consider enrolling in this highly successful educational program or pass along the information to your employees or others you think might be interested in this opportunity. This applications period runs from June 1 through July 31, 2014. The program is produced by the Department of Plant & Soil Sciences at Texas Tech University and is headquartered at the Hill Country University Center in Fredericksburg, Texas. Class size is limited so act soon to enroll.

According to Marilyn Fovel from Fovel Family Vineyards (Fredericksburg, TX), “My son will join me in the vineyard in a few years.  We both are firm believers in the wine industry potential in Fredericksburg.  The Texas Tech Certificate Program is a solid base for moving forward.” Her son Craig was in the 2013 cohort of Viticulture Certificate students.

The Viticulture Certificate Program is designed for wine industry entrepreneurs and prospective vineyard managers seeking comprehensive knowledge of viticultural principles and commercial grape production practices. The program is headquartered at the Hill Country University Center in Fredericksburg, Texas. It is conveniently delivered through a combination of online courses and hands-on training in our own teaching vineyard.

John Rivenburgh said, ” For me, the most valuable part of the program was the baseline in viticultural practices, especially vine biology and physiology, that it gave me. It was a foundation that I used to move forward in handling the challenges of growing grapes in the Texas climate. It’s also a program that some winemakers need to consider taking, as well. It will help them communicate better with their growers to increase wine quality.”

Mike Batek from Hye Meadow Winery said, “Foremost in the program is the contacts you make.  I met people like John Rivenburgh from Bending Branch Winery in class and countless others in the program that welcomed me into the community.  From that forum, I have made friendships and learned much on what not to do when starting a vineyard.  For starting out, avoiding the inherent pitfalls of a rookie grower is priceless!”

Program graduates include this list of people making inroads into Texas viticulture:

  • Don Strickler, Owner: Round Mountain Vineyard, Round Mountain, TX
  • Todd Webster, Winemaker: Brennan Vineyards, Comanche, TX
  • Chris Lloyd, Owner: True Vine Vineyard and Farm, Tyler, TX
  • Galin Morgan, Owner: Saddlehorn Winery, Burton, TX
  • Susan Ramp, Owner: Eperon Vineyard, Canadian, TX
  • John Rivenburgh, Owner: Bending Branch Winery, Comfort, TX
  • Mike Batek, Owner: Hye Meadow Winery, Hye, TX
  • Patrick Gibson, Owner: Grohmann Farms Vineyard, Weimar, TX
  • Sheryl Montgomery, Vineyard Consultant and Manager, East TX
  • Bill Day, Owner: Bueno Suerte Vineyard, Meadow, TX
  • Paul Fovel, Owner: Fovel Family Vineyard, Fredericksburg, TX
  • Joshua Fritsche, Cellarmaster: William Chris Vineyards, Hye, TX
  • Diane Maycotte, Winemaker: Dos Buhos Winery/Rancho Santa Gloria, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
  • Bruce Brundrett, Owner: Brundrett Estate Vineyard, San Angelo, TX
  • Lynne Majek, Owner: Majek Vineyard and Winery, Moravia, TX
 Posted by at 10:31 am
Jun 042014

David Cole – WST, Julie Kuhlken – Pedernales Cellars, Jennifer Beckman – Bending Branch Winery, Ed Dent – WST

WST Greater Houston Chapter Presents Some Mighty Fine, ‘Texas Fine Wine” at Reef

Guest Blog by Ed Dent, The Wine Society of Texas Greater Houston Chapter

The May 31st Greater Houston Chapter of The Wine Society of Texas food and wine event at REEF Restaurant featuring Texas Fine Wines in Houston for the first time was a huge success. The event was sold out by Thursday, with a waiting list. The wines served were Duchman Winery Vermentino, Brennan Vineyards Viognier, Pedernales Cellars Tempranillo and Bending Branch Winery Tannat. Some attendees were treated to Bending Branch’s new Tannat Port. Representing the wineries at this event were Duchman Winery owner Stan Duchman, Julie Kuhlken co-owner of Pedernales Cellars, and Jennifer Beckman,  Sommelier and Director of Marketing at Bending Branch Winery.


Herbert Mitchell, John Adams and Helena Cheng (WST), Dr. Stan Duchman – Duchman Winery

Each winery representative spoke about their wines and winery. There was a question and answer period which included such questions as the future of the Texas wine industry and why was there not enough storage capacity so more wine can be made in the good years and held for the leaner years. Stan Duchman expressed the importance of asking for Texas Wines at your favorite restaurants. Jennifer Beckman indicated that Texas wineries were doing some great things and were winning awards both nationally and internationally. Julie commented how wonderful it was to see how engaged the members of the Texas Wine Society were with Texas wine.

At the end of the evening, a raffle was held for the Wine Society of Texas’s scholarship fund. The wines which were raffled was 2012 GSM from Pedernales Cellars, 2012 Tempranillo from Brennan, 2011 Vermintino from Duchman, and Bending Branch’s 2011 Tannat as well as their sold out Tannat Port.


Greg Frisby, JoAnn Miller, Karie Gulley, Norine Stein and Jan Frisby – WST members

As an added bonus Dr. Duchman donated two tours and tastings for 10 people. In keeping with the spirit of the evening, Jennifer donated a tour and tasting for 10, too. To say the least, the raffle was also successful.

The members of the Greater Houston Chapter of the Wine Society of Texas thank each of the wineries, Bill Floyd, co-owner of REEF, and his staff, as well as all the attendees for such an enjoyable and successful evening.


VintageTexas – Unfortunately, I was out of town the weekend of the WST Texas Fine Wine dinner event and was unable to attend. But, I did manage to get back in time for a Texas Fine Wine trade tasting that was also held at REEF the following Monday afternoon. Under the watchful eye and guitar of Willie Nelson (see below), and appetizers provided by Chef Brian Caswell, I had a chance to taste wines from all four wineries (Duchman, Bending Branch, Brennan and Pedernales Cellars). The tasting was commendable both for its quality and breadth of grape varieties and styles. Keep in mind, Texas is just about the same size as France and France offers quite a wide range of wines and styles, too. Texas Fine Wine is truly a diverse group, too. Remember, what brings them together is the desire to promote Texas wines from the standpoint of their quality, which I am glad to say is very competitive to well-accepted brands in the marketplace.


 Posted by at 2:08 pm
May 222014

Portal to Austin’s Red Room Lounge

The Sip – Season One Shows Its Time to Go Texan or Go Thirsty

I exited the bright afternoon Austin street scene through a ruddy red door under a black awning. Not much else other than the 306A address on the door told me I was in the right place. As my eyes fought to handle the low light inside, I was met face-to-face by Ed Auler’s familiar face of Fall Creek Vineyard exiting followed by a voice inside that said, “Watch your step going down the stairs.”

The event was “The Sip: Season One” organized by Austin drinks blogger, media contributor and all around good PR guy Matt McGinnis and hosted at the Red Room Lounge while the tents and fences from the recent Austin Food & Wine Festival were still being disassembled. In The Sip, Matt organized a tasting of Texas wines from some of the best hill country wineries: Fall Creek Vineyards, Inwood Estates Vineyards, Perissos Vineyards, Pontotoc Vineyard, Sandstone Cellars, Spicewood Vineyards and Stone House Vineyards.


The Sip, Season One at Red Room Lounge

Inside the Red Room Lounge, the dim ambient light and red walls were background for an impressive array of glassware aligned in place settings on a long wooden table with crisp halogen lights directed down from above. The goal of the event was a blind tasting of Texas wines and similar non-Texas wines and to try to define the characteristics of those from Texas or other places around the world unencumbered by their labels. Joining the tasters were winemakers from each winery that included: Ed and Susan Auler and their winemaker Sergio Cuadra (Fall Creek), Dan Gatlin (Inwood Estates), Seth Martin (Perissos), Angela Moench (Stone House), Ron Yates (Spicewood) and Don Pullum (Sandstone Cellars and Pontotoc). Continue reading »

 Posted by at 2:02 pm
May 212014

Texas Fine Wines – Cooperation of Four Fine Texas Wineries

Texas Fine Wine: Four of Texas’s Most Distinguished Wineries in Houston at WST Dinner May 31

Boo! I’m not in town the weekend of May 31st, but hopefully you will be. You can attend an amazing wine dinner at James Beard nominated Chef Brian Caswell’s REEF.

At this event, wine enthusiasts can taste wines from four national and international award-winning Texas wineries at the first-ever Texas Fine Wine pairing dinner on Saturday, May 31 at REEF in Houston.  Hosted by the Greater Houston Chapter of the Wine Society of Texas, the dinner features new vintages from the four Texas Fine Wine wineries:  Bending Branch Winery, Brennan Vineyards, Duchman Family Winery and Pedernales Cellars.

Texas Fine Wine was founded in early 2014 to promote this distinctive group of highly respected wineries dedicated to producing quality wines sourced from Texas appellation vineyards.

Brian Caswell – One of F&W Best New Chefs

“We appreciate the enthusiasm of the Houston Wine Society and REEF to feature wines from Texas Fine Wine for this May dinner,” says Dr. Stan Duchman, Houston-based owner of Duchman Family Winery in Driftwood.  “This is a terrific opportunity to taste four wine varieties that show great promise in Texas.”

Wine enthusiasts are invited to attend the five-course dinner paired with these Texas wines:

  • Pickled shrimp, smoky remoulade with Duchman Vermentino
  • Roasted beet, goat cheese, country ham, arugula salad with Brennan Viognier
  • Grilled cobia, bulgogi potato, snow peas, Asian pear salad with Pedernales Tempranillo
  • Roasted pork loin, cherry mustard with Bending Branch Tannat
  • Dark chocolate terrine, balsamic strawberries

Winery representatives will attend and speak at the dinner, which starts at 7 p.m. at REEF, 2600

Travis (at McGowen).  The cost is $75 per person, all inclusive. Reservations can be made by calling 713.526.8282.


The Wine Society of Texas is a 501c3 non-profit educational organization dedicated to:

  • Enhance the appreciation of wine, especially Texas wines
  • Educate the experienced as well as the beginning wine taster,
  • Promote the wine makers, and grape growers,
  • Foster the knowledge of oenology and viticulture,
  • Help in charitable activities throughout the state of Texas, and
  • Promote the responsible consumption of wine.

Media Contacts:

Texas Fine Wine: Denise Clarke, denise@deniseclarkePR.com; 512.899.0004

Greater Houston Wine Society of Texas: Ed Dent, EDENT24@aol.com, 713.705.8574


 Posted by at 9:40 am
May 122014

Newsom Vineyards – High Plains Site of 2014 Newsom Grape Day

Newsom Grape Day & Tempranillo Symposium: Five Things I Leaned About Texas Wine

Last Friday was the annual gathering of grape growers and winemakers from around the state in Neal Newsom’s “Barn-atorium” surrounded by his Newsom family vineyards near Plains, Texas. The big white metal structure was filled nearly to capacity with what Neal described as likely to be “a record-breaking attendance”. The only question remaining was only the total attendance which had already acceded the RSVPs, filled the available seats, and left standing room only for the remainder of the attendees.

While the prior evening’s drive from Lubbock was made a bit made exciting by clouds of red sand blow up by the 35 mph wind on FM2196, the morning of the meeting was still and crisp at 49 F. The sun cast long day-break shadows down the rows of grapevines in the adjacent vineyard blocks.


The Newsom Grape Day events were summarized by Jeff Cope on his Texas Wine Lover blog. Presentations focused on Texas high plains grape growing and factors that contribute to bringing quality and value to Texas wines. I’ve tried to boil down what I learned to five major points that need to be conveyed to all Texas wineries, vineyards and interested consumers after listening to the presentations and from discussions of the attendees:

  • Number 1 – Texans Should Look to Spain for Knowing What to Look for in Texas Wines.  According to Dr. Ed Hellman at Texas Tech, Tempranillo is well positioned for Texas wine. It the most heavily planted red grape in the wine regions of Spain, a country that has similar latitude and elevation to many places in the Texas Hill Country and Texas High Plains viticultural areas. The overlap in latitude comes at 36 degrees north latitude with Texas being somewhat lower with higher average temperatures. However, western Texas generally has higher elevations that bring cool night time temperatures that helps to produce high quality grapes. Continue reading »
 Posted by at 2:08 pm
May 052014

Grape Creek Vineyards Owner, Brian Heath, launching a cork from his newly released Euphoria sparkling wine!

Grape Creek Vineyards Releases Euphoria: Texas Sparkling Wine

A long time ago, I mused in the blog about Texans and their love for sparkling wines (click here). However, there have been darn few sparklers actually made right here in the Lone Star state. That’s why I was so excited when to herd about Grape Creek Vineyards release of their new sparkling wine, “Euphoria”.

In celebration of this event, Owners Brian & Jennifer Heath and Winemaker Jason Englert held a premier release and tasting of Grape Creek Vineyard’s FIRST sparkling wine.  They billed it as Experience Euphoria!  


I came early to get a sip with Brian Heath. Before I knew it, Brian grabbed a bottle of Euphoria and a couple of glasses and asked me to follow him out on the winery’s well wooded grounds. There, he unfastened the wire closure on the bottle and launched a cork. Brian said, “You know, I really love doing this! It’s the fun part of owning a winery.” While the power of the carbonation only powered the cork about 15 feet, the wine that flowed forth was worthy of attention. Continue reading »

 Posted by at 11:01 am
Apr 302014

Ol’ Gabe’s Homestead Winery Malbec

Malbec World Day: Some Great Texas Malbecs, too!

I must admit to being behind the curve. I didn’t acknowledging the worldwide celebration of Malbec wines (Malbec World Day) held on April 17th. I really have no excuse; but I’d like caught up on this. I’m a great fan of wines made from the Malbec grape. They generally are dark and purple, friendly to firm, and incredibly fine paired with food, especially meat…grilled meat as I’ve experienced in Argentina.

As very nicely summarized, “Malbec is a purple grape variety used in making red wine. The grapes tend to have an inky dark color and robust tannins, and are known as one of the six grapes allowed in the blend of red Bordeaux wine. The French plantations of Malbec are now found primarily in Cahors in South West France. It is increasingly celebrated as an Argentine varietal wine and is being grown around the world.” Click for more.


Let me say that late last year and especially during the past month, I’ve had the pleasure to have some mighty fine Malbec wines. I started with Clos Siguier, a French Cahors. It was dark, fruity and with a firm tannic grip. It paired well with mixed outdoor grill on a fine fall Houston evening. Starting with France and moving on to other places like Argentina and, even Texas, shows the legacy and adaptability of the Malbec grape. Continue reading »

 Posted by at 9:11 pm
Apr 272014

Guy Stout, Master Sommelier, at Buffalo Gap Tasting

Buffalo Gap W&F Summit: Guy Stout’s Tasting Spectacular

Yesterday morning at 10 am, we were presented with a 21 wine rapid fire tasting prepared and presented by Guy Stout, Certified Master Sommelier, Corporate Director of Beverage Education for The Glazer’s Family of Companies and the only self-proclaimed “Cowboy Sommelier” that I know. It was a mash up of wines from Argentina, Texas and California, but well organized generally in order of light an bright to thick and chewy.


Of the 21 wines, 9 were well chosen examples of the wines from Texas. Guy led-off with a white wine from his own lone star state, Duchman Family Winery Vermentino with lemon lime notes and an underlying minerally character. My friend Alfonzo, please noticed that I didn’t use the no-no word – “minerality” anywhere in that wine description.  Winemaker Todd Webster presented Brennan Vineyards Viognier is perhaps a classic example of today’s Texas wine; clean and crisp with medium body and notes of peach and a hint of jasmine. Gary McKibben presented his Red Caboose Winery Lenoir-Tempranillo blend. Lenior (aka Black Spanish, Jacquez) that showed how Lenoir can be integrated into an excellent table wine as a partner with Tempranillo, the leading contender for the leading red grape in Texas.

About midway through the tasting four Texas wines were presented back-to-back. These included the Bending Branch Winery Tempranillo (Texas High Plains) that was whole berry fermented to provide a mouthful of black cherry characteristics, and the always fun and pleasing McPherson Cellars Tre Colore, a blend of red grapes (Carignan and Mourvedre) along with a white grape (Viognier). It is a great red wine for warm Texas summers particularly if served slightly chilled.

Then came one of my favorite wines in Guy’s tasting. It was  Pedernales Cellars GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre blend). As indicated by Perdenales’s President, Fredrik Osterberg, it was a classic blend with a “Texas twist”. This GSM was clean and crisp with red and black fruit characteristics and a delightful and lively nose with both fruit notes and vanilla and spice from barrel aging. The four-set of Texas wines was completed by Llano Estacado Winery Cellar Reserve Merlot (Newsom Vineyards – Texas High Plains). Llano VP and executive winemaker, Greg Bruni, presented the wine and described is medium body and plum fruit notes. This wine should remind us that Merlot, while not always in the spotlight in Texas, is a versatile grape for Texas.


Another show stopper was a pre-release tasting of the Lost Oak Winery Gold Label Shiraz presented by winemaker Jim Evans. This wine was rich with sweet blackberry fruit mixed with smoky and minerals, qualities that makes this wine equally at home as a sipper or when enjoyed in combination with a grilled rare steak.

Closing out the Texas representatives on this international wine panel was Dr. Richard Becker (co-founder of the Buffalo Gap Wine & Food Summit) and owner of Becker Vineyards. He presented his proprietary red blend – Raven. Normally, this wine is a blend of Malbec and Petite Verdot, but in 2009, he lost his Malbec to a late spring freeze and decided to pair what he thought was some pretty darn good PV with Texas Hill Country Cabernet Sauvignon. It is a premium red blend and brought both the deep color and chewiness of the PV with a delightful tannic structure and aromas from the Cabernet.

I’d be remiss not to highlight the two wines from Argentina that included Alamos Malbec and the Don Migel Gascon Malbec both from the Argentine Mendoza region (very much like our own Texas High Plains) that has brought this grape to the international forefront and defined its character. These were both thick, dark and well extracted wines with a vibrant purple color and blackberry, blueberry and cherry notes with a hint of mocha.


By noon, we were finished with Guy’s 21 wine tasting and exited the tent to seek out lunch prepared by Stephen Pyles with a menu derived from his Stamplede66 restaurant offerings. Honey Fried chicken and Texas grass fed Wagyu beef brisket were accompanied by chopped salad, German potato salad all served under the live oak trees on the Perini Ranch with a wonderful bottle of bright red Malbec Rose’ from Brennan Vineyards [I love that color].


I finished off lunch with a seasonal berry cobbler and a Dr. Pepper float with Snickers ice cream. Now, for the nap!



 Posted by at 9:50 am
Apr 262014

Picadas of Lamb around the fire

2014 Buffalo Gap Wine & Food Summit: A Celebration of the Favors of Argentina

At Perini Ranch in Buffalo Gap, it was an experience of primary colors. The foundation was of dusty red west Texas soil. Immediately overhead was a silky sea of lime green mesquite leaves cast against the azure blue sky. All around was pungent white smoke that arose from the culinary seven fires of Argentine Chef Francis Mallmann. The question in my mind as I entered the grounds was, would it be as I experienced in Argentina in past years. Well, it was that, and more!

The fires were started at 7 am to slow cook lamb splayed on classic picadas. Grass fed beef ribeyes were roasting on metal grates. Vegetables were buried to cook underground, and chickens tucked into balls hanging on hooks. Walking among the seven fires was a pre-dinner treat while sipping on Argentine Torrontes or Texas Merlot as nothing would be served until 7 pm. Tom Perini from Buffalo Gap’s Perini Steakhouse  and Chef Mallmann worked in the pit stopping for an occasional rest and chat, perhaps to share cowboy and gaucho cooking tips.


Buffalo Gap’s Tom Perini and Argentina’s Chef Mallmann overseeing the pit.

This year’s Buffalo Gap Wine & Food Summit was a 10th anniversary affair billed as “a taste of Argentina in Texas”. It brought the meat-based cuisine and wines of Argentina together with wines from Argentina, Texas and California. The dinner on Friday evening was everything we had watched earlier that day served in four family style courses along side 16 wines. Featured Texas wines included:

With Argentina as the feature of this year’s Summit, there were several wines presented made from the signature grape of that country, Malbec; featuring Argentina’s Don Miguel Gascon Malbec Reserva, Ramian Estate Malbec (Napa), Truchard Vineyards Malbec (Carneros Napa), and Meeker Vineyards (Sonoma County) Malbec.


Friday Dinner Gathering at the Buffalo Gap Wine and Food Summit with Chef Mallmann speaking.

Malbec is an intensely purple grape used in making red wine with an Argentine style with an inky dark color and robust flavor of blackberries.  This grape originated in the area of Cahors in South West France. However, it is increasingly distinguished as an Argentine varietal wine with it distinctive style. One of the interesting similarities discussed is that between the Argentine Mendoza wine growing region and that of the Texas High Plains around Lubbock. Both regions are high altitude arid areas backed by evening higher mountains. Whereas the Mendoza averages around 2400 ft in elevation, the Texas High Plains starts at about 3200 feet and goes up to 4000 ft. Both share intense sunny dry conditions.


A sip of Alamos Torrontes under the shade of a Live Oak tree at Buffalo Gap.

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 Posted by at 4:52 pm