Make Wine? It's Time for the Austin County Fair, Non-Commercial Wine Show

Make Wine? It’s Time for the Austin County Fair, Non-Commercial Wine Show

As I’ve traveled rural and urban Texas over the past couple years, one thing that has amazed me is the number of people that make wine in this state. Most of these people aren’t professionals. They are non-commercial and therefore get the moniker “amateurs” that make wine as a hobby and for the shear love of  the grape. They may be amateurs, but that doesn’t mean that they make wines that are hard to swallow. Most of the non-commercial wines that I have tasted are actually quite palatable.

The source materials used in non-commercial wines can vary from conventional to outright unusual. Some use grapes from local wineries and vineyards while others use kits and grape concentrate, others still employ wild grapes found on their property, along a nearby road or rail easement. Still others, like Jack Keller, aren’t bounded by the normal morays and makes wine and archives winemaking recipes made from a wide variety of biological materials such as tomatoes, dandelions and even bananas.  Shawn Bruno at Bruno and George Winery, known for his fruit wines, once told me, “You can make wine out of literally anything that rots!” Not a particularly appealing thought, but likely true.

Interestingly, there are several outstanding amateur winemakers in Texas. Jerry Watson who is a long time Texas grape grower sets the bar high for amateur winemaking. Several winemakers now operating Texas wineries started as amateur winemakers. Two that come to mind are Raymond Haak at Haak Vineyards and Winery (Santa Fe, Texas) and Seth Martin at Perissos Vineyards (Burnet, Texas). See previous VintageTexas blogs on these noteworthy winemakers:

Perissos Vineyards:

Haak Vineyards and Winery:

Well, if you are a non-commercial winemaker please make a note that this Saturday, October 9, 2010, the Austin County, Non-Commercial Wine Show will be held 2:30 – 8:00 pm at the Austin County Fairgrounds (Conventional and Exposition Center), Hwy 159 East, Bellville, Texas 77418. It will involve a critically evaluated by a panel of five judges including: Vicki Parker, Ron Sailowski (wine writer), Luis Acosta (Owner of Rioja Restaurant), Dr. Bosse (a Bellville doctor), and yours truly, Russ Kane (VintageTexas writer and Texas wine aficionado). Most of the wines will be available for tasting after the results of the competition are announced at 5:00 pm.

Last year, I could not make the event due to a scheduling conflict, but I did get a chance to taste several of the gold medal winning wines. I must admit that they were worthy of their medal status.

For those that want to submit their wines or participate in the tasting, more information on the Austin County Non-Commerical Wine Show is available at:

To submit your non-commercial wine into the wine show, go to the online information for Rules and Application.

I hope to see you there and hope to taste your wine.

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1 Comment

  1. I have tried many times to make wine at home but it did not taste well. I guess it’s a work in progress. Thanks for sharing the information. I will take all teh advice I can get and try try again.

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