Blanc Du Bois: Texas Grown – Gulf Coast and Now Beyond
Excerpt from Edible Houston Celebration May/June 2016 Issue story: Blanc Du Bois: Texas Grown – by Russ Kane of VintageTexas. Copies of this issue are available at local newsstands, sponsor locations, and by subscription on the Edible Houston website (click link above).
“In 2000, my wife Gladys and I opened our winery in Santa Fe, just south of Houston,” recalled Raymond Haak, owner of Haak Vineyards and Winery in Galveston County. “Immediately after opening, I invited then Houston Chronicle wine writer Michael Lonsford down to visit. After, I was surprised when he wrote a nice story on us in the paper, especially the really great things he said about our Blanc Du Bois wines.” Today, Haak cherishes a string of moments like this one garnered in Texas, California and abroad with gold medals galore.
The Texas Blanc Du Bois story started with Dr. John Mortensen, born in Texas and later a University of Florida professor, who helped developed Blanc Du Bois. In 1987, he released this hybridized wine grape especially suited for hot, humid southern climes. He named it ‘Blanc Du Bois’ (with both capital “D” and “B”) in honor of Tallahassee grape grower Emile DuBois. According to Mortensen’s 1987 release circular, “Blanc Du Bois makes a spicy white wine which was rated very good in formal wine tasting panels.”
It was around this time that two men in the greater Houston area, Haak and his soon-to-be friend Jerry Watson who started experimenting with growing it on the Texas Gulf Coast. This friendship was put to good use when the Haak’s opened their winery. Together they discovered the “Blanc Magic” of growing and winemaking with this grape that made wine judges and consumers take notice.
Now, others statewide have discovered Blanc Du Bois, too. It started close to home with Lynne Majek and her husband Randy with their vineyard and winery in Moravia near Schulenberg and the Bonarrigo family owners of Messina Hof Winery in Bryan, and now includes Chris Brundrett and co-founder Bill Blackmon of William Chris Vineyards in the hill country town of Hye and Doug Lewis at Lewis Wines just down the street from them, and Gene Estes at Lost Oak Winery in Burleson.
The story in Edible Houston includes quotes from all of these Blanc Du Bois converts who are now spreading the word about Texas Blanc Du Bois wines far and wide. It also includes comments received on my selection of eight Blanc Du Bois wines tasted by Camerata at Paulie’s with (now) Master Sommelier David Keck and his Houston Sommelier Association study group:
Lewis Wines, Swim Spot, 2014
William Chris Vineyards, Sparkling Wine, 2013
Haak Vineyards & Winery, Estate Blanc Du Bois, Dry White Wine 2015
William Chris Vineyards, Mary Ruth, 2015
Messina Hof Winery, Blanc Du Bois, Private Reserve, 2015
Majek Vineyard & Winery, Blanc Du Bois, 2014
Lost Oak Winery, Carrabba Farms, Semi-Sweet Blanc Du Bois 2014
Haak Vineyards & Winery, Madeira Blanc Du Bois, 2013
Wines are available at Spec’s, Whole Foods or directly shipped from respective wineries.