A Texas Winemaker with a New Mission and Wine: Brock Estes, DANK, Johnny Rojo, a starter wine without training wheels!


A Texas Winemaker with a New Mission and Wine: Brock Estes, DANK, Johnny Rojo, a starter wine without training wheels!

If you don’t know Brock Estes, it might be hard for you to make a sentence with these three words in it: Fly Gap, Dank and wine. But, if you get to know Brock Estes and his winemaking/winegrowing associates in Mason County, you’d have no problem doing it. You’ll have the opportunity to meet-up with Brock and try some of his Fly Gap Winery DANK, Johnny Rojo (a red blend wine) this Saturday at Sandstone Cellars (details below). But, why take the trouble to travel to Mason for a wine release?

Well, according to Brock, “Johnny Rojo is a wine that I feel will get a lot of non-wine drinkers into wine; actually, excited about wine and trying other wines, as well.”

Having just tried this wine, all I can say is, Johnny Rojo’s not anything like the slightly sweet, pink and sometimes sparkling wines (think, insipid) that introduced me to wine when I first explored wine drinking in the early 1970s. Johnny Rojo, first off and with emphasis, I can say, it is a serious wine. If he considers it an introductory wine, then I’d call it a starter wine without training wheels!

Brock continued, “It’s a kitchen sink, fusion blend that is fruit forward and well balanced.  Not too complex, just really simple and really smooth and good.  It’s an easy drinking (red) wine, and should be a real crowd pleaser.”

Brock’s lingo (e.g. kitchen sink, fusion blend) is similar to Mason County winemaking brethren like Don Pullum who I’m sure has had an influence. However, Brock has reached out to Texas winemaking leader, Kim McPherson (McPherson Cellars, Lubbock Texas) to help him craft this wine and also to put together a group of wines that speak to Brock’s personal winemaking mission. According to Brock, “My goal is to steer younger or less established wine drinkers onto increasingly more serious wines by offerings beyond Johnny Rojo.”


Fly Gap DANK Johnny Rojo is a medium bodied red wine, actually a blend of six grape varieties: Mourvedre, Carignan, Cinsault, Syrah, Tempranillo and Sangiovese. If you don’t know any of these grape varieties, don’t let that intimate you. Just taste the wine and relax.

It was a hot summer day in Houston when I tried this wine and I actually chilled it in the refrigerator for about 15-20 minutes (Yes, it is OK to break the conventional rules for red wine). This yielded a refreshing mélange of aroma and tastes of red berries, nectarine, and ripe plum with a slight floral note on the nose.

In my mine, this should be a winner with Millennials looking for a wine they can really enjoy while sipping with friends or accompanying foods like tacos, BBQ or even sophisticated and spicy dishes.

But I warned Brock, not to count out established and savvy white wine drinkers looking to break into local red wine. Johnny Rojo may be fun and easy drinking, but it is seriously fulfilling without all the tannins normally associated with red wines they may have had previously.

Of his interesting (and non-conventional) labeling, Brock said, “I tried to create a label that says ‘don’t take me too seriously and just have a great time.  Let your hair down and get loose.’  DANK was created to opening the wine portal to young generational people, allowing wine drinking to be cool and not intimidating like many people try to make it.”

For more information on Fly Gap Winery, check out their website (click here), schedule a visit by appointment only or find one of their retailer sources (click here).


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The Fly Gap Winery, DANK Johnny Rojo release party is at Sandstone Cellars wine bar this Saturday the August 9th from 6-10pm. After that, Brock Estes will be doing traveling event promos: August 16th at Hye Market, August 23rd at Badu House in Llano. After that, Brock will likely be aiming at the bigger retailers in the large urban centers around Texas.

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Mason, Texas – The Texas Hill Counties Sonoma County

Mark my word, Mason County in the hill country is eventually going to be what Sonoma County (and particularly the Russian River Valley) is to Napa Valley. Mason and Sonoma are off the beaten path, a little harder to find, and have lots of smaller (boutique) wine producers doing their own thing.

According to Brock, “Lately and for some years to come, the main focus (in Mason) is to Plant, Plant, Plant.  This Spring I’ll be planting along with my best friend Adam Nelson, and my Cousin Lex Fleming (who has interned this spring under Dan McLaughlin – also a Mason County winegrower at Robert Clay Vineyards). Adam is at his amazing Spiller Mine location and Lex a little bit West of Adam.  All in Fly Gap Territory.  We might plant at some other relatives sites too, just don’t know.  It’s time to plant, plant, plant, and use what our ancestors left us…good grape growing land!  That is our greatest asset.

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Read more on Fly Gap Winery by Robin English-Bircher at: http://www.texaswineandtrail.com/building-dream-look-fly-gap-winery/

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Love to taste, talk and tweet about Texas wines and where they are in the global scheme for wines. After all that's the only way they will reach the full potential.

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