Kerrville Hills Winery: A Teroldego Ménage à Trois in a Glass

To those of you that missed my blog on a new grape grown in Texas, Teroldego, check it out for some background information (click here). I wrote that blog before actually coming in contact with a bottle of wine made from Texas-grown Teroldego grapes. As it turned out I subsequently attended a Hill Country Wineries Road Show presentation and tasting in Houston where I met up with John Rivenburgh, winemaker and owner of Kerrville Hills Winery.

Winemaker and Kerrville Hills Winery Owner, John Rivenburgh in the vineyard

At the event, Rivenburgh poured me a slim taste of his Kerrville Hills 2020 Teroldego, Pepper Jack Vineyard, Texas High Plains. I was immediately struck by its inky, near-opaque purple presence in my glass and in short order, the combination of intense ripe blackberries, tannin and crisp acidity on my palate.

Acknowledging my surprised look, Rivenburgh commented, ”Interesting, isn’t it? If Petite Sirah, Tannat, and Barbara had a baby, it would be Teroldego.” Acknowledging his comment, I responded by saying something like, ”Interesting… It’s kind of like a Ménage à Trois in a glass.”

Following this tasting, I received a bottle of this wine while I did a little more research. This gave me the opportunity to give it a better and more detailed tasting, and a chance to come up with a food pairing or two.

On my subsequent Teroldego tasting, the most amazing characteristic expressed by the Kerrville Hills Teroldego was its combination of rich dark fruit qualities, earthiness and bright acidity, which offers lively fresh fruit notes rather than the ”jamminess” often found in many dark red wines. I also found an interesting minty-spiciness lingering from mid-palate to the finish.

Kerrville Hills Winery Teroldego

The combination of fruit and acid prominence make the Kerrville Hills Teroldego potentially a very food friendly wine being able to handle more flavorful and fatty cuts of meat like pork shoulder or ribs or beef brisket. More generally, knowing my preference for wines and foods that ”grew up” together, I also suggest serving it with Trentino favorites like corner beef, salami, and a variety of aged cow’s-milk cheese.

In Teroldego’s traditional home, just north of Trento, growers often encounter some unfortunate issues with this grape. It is a slow-ripening grape that does not always reach full maturity in the local alpine climate. In humid years, bunch rot can cause problems. There is just one DOC in northern Italy for varietal Teroldego wines – The Rotaliano – a sandy plain regarded as the best site for this variety.

If I read between the lines of the previous paragraph, Teroldego may just fill some of our Texas viticulture needs. Being slow ripening, the warm conditions in the Texas high plains allow it to gain ripeness that it can’t reach in northern Italy. Secondly, the Texas high plains is typically a dry growing region, not subject to bunch rot issues. Finally, Teroldego appears to like sandy plains environments like we have in the Texas panhandle, that hopefully welcome it with a new-world home.

John Rivenburgh with partner Kelly Hagemeier at Kerrville Hills Winery

For more on John Rivenburgh’s Kerrville Hills Winery and perhaps a splash, glass or bottle of Teroldego or his other wines, see details below or click here for his website:

Kerrville Hills Winery, 3600 Fredericksburg Rd, Kerrville, TX 78028

Thursday – Saturday, 11AM – 6PM | Sunday, 12 – 5PM. Groups over 6 must have a reservation

PHONE (830) 895-4233


Photo Credit: Kerrville Hills 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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