The Winemaker that Mark Penna Just Never Ran Off

The Winemaker that Mark Penna Just Never Ran Off

This week, in my Texas wine column in the Lubbock Avalanche Journal and on (click here), I interviewed Duchman Family Winery winemaker Dave Reilly. He is an interesting fellow particularly when he talks about how he made his transfer from construction to winemaking at Duchman Family Winery in Driftwood, TX.

Dave and I have something in common. We both made our entry onto the Texas wine scene after our wives told us that we were working too much and we needed a hobby. It might be the same for Dave that it is for me…there’s a fine line between a hobby and mental illness. I rarely do anything halfassed; it’s full-bore or nothing. I got mine genetically from my Mother, Beatrice Kane, who was a master quilter. She didn’t make just a few quilts, she made them for everyone in the family and in many cases more than once. She taught classes, worked on community quilts at church and local organizations, made bags, jackets and wall hangings to name just a few things that ended up quilted. In addition to that she tried her hand at soap making and even winemaking.

Dave told me that it all started with ten vines, then another ten vines. After that, it was a half acre and another half acre, then three. Before he knew it, he had seven acres under vine. But, Dave still wanted more.

Through a neighbor, Dave met ex-Llano Estacado winemaker Don Brady and before he knew it, he was interning with Mark Penna, the original winemaker at Duchman Family Winery. Mark was both a fine and gentle man, avid scientist and someone that readily shared what he learned and experienced about Texas winemaking from time he spent around the state at Pheasant Ridge, Llano Estacado, and CapRock and as head winemaker at Ste. Genevieve in Ft. Stockton. Click here to read more about Mark Penna.

Dave gives lots of the credit for his winemaking education and entry into the Texas wine industry to Mark and what Dave calls “The Mark Penna School of Enology”.

To read more about the story of winemaker Dave Reilly who is contributing greatly to the evolving Texas wine experience, click here.

P.S. After the story was released, Dave contacted me by email to correct one statement that I made.

He said, “Thanks for the great write up. One small thing… out of respect for Mark, I was brought on in 2006 to plant the vineyard because he didn’t have enough help. He was diagnosed [later] with cancer in the spring of 2008. Mark was a very strong man when I started here in 2006.”

Thanks for the clarification. I feel that I can speak for all that know you when I say thanks for your contribution to Texas wines. I’m glad that Mark had you to continue on with his Texas winemaking legacy.

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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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