Winners at the 2014 Austin County Wine Show
I once spoke with Texas high plains winegrower Neal Newsom about the differences in growing grapes for wine and growing other crops like hay and cotton. He looked back at me and said, “When we go to show, it’s a heck of a lot more fun when we meet-up to review and discuss wine grapes and drink wine than we have at hay meetings.”
Well, that is exactly how I feel having recently been a judge at the 2014 Austin County Wine Show Non-Commercial Competition sponsored by the Austin County Grape Growers Committee. I had far more fun tasting (and afterwards) drinking wine than I would have had chewing on a stalk of hay, that’s for dang sure.
Having been a wine judge for several years now, it was also good to see (and taste) that the wines made by amateur (non-commercial) winemakers in Texas continue to get better every year. It is good to see that Blanc Du Bois, the white grape of the Gulf Coast and post oak plains continues to be gaining acceptance by winemakers and consumers alike.
This year’s winners were:
Dry Red Wine: Gold – Scott Greene; Silver – Doug Rowlett; Bronze – Ken Krienke
Sweet Red Wine: Gold – Billy Schaffner and George Holm – Tie; Silver – Martha Tarkington; Bronze -Martha Tarkington
Dry White Wine: Gold – Barrett Rouse; Silver – Scott Greene; Bronze – Jerry Watson
Sweet White Wine: Gold – Jerry Watson; Silver Martha Tarkington; Bronze – Ken Krienke
Fruit / Berry Wine: Gold – Dave Grimme and Billy Schaffner – Tie; Silver – Dave Grimme; Bronze – Alfred Tomasek and George Holm
Dessert & Port Style Wine: Gold – Barrett Rouse; Silver – Kenneth Wuensche; Bronze – Scott Greene
Kit Wine (Non-TX) Grapes – Dry Red Wine: Gold – Alfred Tomasek; Silver – Richard Clayton
Kit Wine (Non-TX) Grapes – Dry White Wine: No awards given
Kit Wine (Non-TX) Grapes – Sweet Wine: Gold – Richard Clayton; Silver – John Martine; Bronze – Richard Clayton
Native Grape / Mustang Wine: Gold – Danny Koester; Silver – John Martine; Bronze – Alfred Tomasek
Blush Wine: Gold – Kenneth Wuensche; Silver – Kenneth Wuensche; Bronze – Barrett Rouse
Overall Winners: Grand Champion – Jerry Watson; Reserve Grand Champion – Barrett Rouse
Overall Austin County Winner: Grand Champion – Scott Greene
Jerry Watson, Overall Grand Champion from this year’s judging for his sweet Blanc Du Bois, said, “I started making wine from kits in the seventies then in the nineties, when we started growing, I moved on to fruit and then grape wines. Normally, I make dry Blanc Du Bois, but this year, I also made some sweet Blanc to keep my sweet wine drinking friends happy.”
When I asked him what it took to make good wine with Blanc Du Bois, he said, “A good slow, cold fermentation works best; something around 50-55 F that takes 2-3 weeks to complete. Then, make sure that the finished wine has a good sugar/acid balance.”
Scott Greene, this year’s Austin County Overall Grand Champion, wanted to make sure the man who grew the grapes that were in his award winning wine was acknowledged. He said, “I want to make sure that you mention Jack Palacios. The Syrah in my wine was the produced in his vineyard. Syrah is not exactly a big grape for this part of Texas and Jack and his operation are to be commended. The Palacios family have been growing vinifera grapes with some success for several years not to far from here in Brenham. I have been the beneficiary, as I made the wine, but Jack should get an award for growing the grapes.”
Then, Scott added an additional note that indicated he was looking for further winemaking challenges. He said, “I’m still trying to find the Holy Grail for making a Black Spanish red table wine.”
Scott, as you well know, many have tried, but very few have succeeded. Perhaps it will be next year for you. Maybe it will be a Black Spanish/Syrah blend. Congrats to you and all participants and winners of this year’s Austin County Wine Show.