Sun on the Skins

Cap*Rock Winery Entrance 

The morning call came a little later today. The smiling faces of the delegation members appeared a little rosier than they were yesterday – A byproduct of our Texas high plains vineyard experience on the previous day.

We should have expected this as Bobby Cox, Lubbock area vineyard consultant mentioned, “The elevation here on the Texas high plains is between 3400 and 3800 feet. The strong rays of the sun at these elevations result in a noticeable deeper coloration in the grape skins than in many other grape growing regions around the world. We also think that this could be manifested in higher levels of resveratrol in our wines, as well.”

Resveratrol is the compound found in red wine that has been linked to many of its health benefits. If Bobby’s words proves to be true, this could bring a new meaning to the phrase….”Have a Glass of Texas Sunshine”.

Just on the outskirts of Lubbock, our first stop this morning was Cap*Rock Winery, a Texas winery with all of the modern attributes you would find in any major winery; from tasting room and event center to high capacity tanks for handling both red and white winemaking and facility-side piping and automation that can move large quantities of juice around in a matter of minutes.

The capacity of Cap*Rock’s facilities is sized for future growth of up to 40-80,000 cases of wine per year with current production at about 15,000 cases. Today, some of this capacity is used to process wine for the newer wineries that do not yet have their own winemaking facilities. These capabilities have also even been used to process and bottle wine for some of their competitors.

The one thing that impressed the delegation members on this Texas high plains tour was the spirit of cooperation that seems to permeate the Texas wine industry. It was stated yesterday that the growers often share equipment and facilities to help reduce the initial capital investment for new and existing growers.

Cap*Rock Barrel Room

Phillip Anderson, general manager of Cap*Rock confirmed that this same spirit exists in his winery, as well. He said, “We have really learned to be nice to everybody, as we will likely need to work together on some aspect of grape sourcing or winemaking in the future.”

It is the same cooperation that Phillip Anderson indicated that has led to the formation and ongoing support for the Texas Department of Agriculture initiatives for statewide viticulture, oenology and marketing programs for Texas’ rapidly developing wine industry.

Cap*Rock offers a wide range of wines that include both Cap*Rock’s Texas-made wine and Italian wines under the Fumanelli label. Their winemaker is Italian, Flavio Peroni, who has received international acclaim for pioneering the cultivation and production of new grape varietals in Europe. He adds a new dimension and global perspectives to Texas winemaking.

A list of Texas wines offered from Cap*Rock can be obtained online at:

http://www.caprockwinery.com/html/wines.htm

Our final stop was Pheasant Ridge winery, a 60 acre estate winery in the Lubbock area. The vineyard, planted in 1979 by Bobby Cox, is one of the oldest in Texas and contains sixty acres of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, and Semillon.  The fruit is hand-picked and the winery’s production is approximately 5,000+ cases per year.

TDA\'s Bobby Champion in Pheasant Ridge Tasting Room

The tasting room and winery may seem a bit minimalist for most winery goers based on their experiences with major brand wineries. However, Pheasant Ridge is in keeping with the style and tradition of many European, family-run estate wineries. In 2003, I visited Yves Gras the owner and fourth generation winemaker at Domaine Santa Duc in the southern French appellation of Gigondas (http://vintagetexas.com/blog/?p=3). While an accomplished and award winning winery, Domaine Santa Duc had much the same look and feel as I found at Pheasant Ridge.

The wines of Pheasant Ridge include varietal wines and blends made only from the grapes grown on the winery grounds. They are available for tasting and purchase at the winery, but also widely distributed around the state of Texas. For more information go to: http://www.pheasantridgewinery.com/History.htm 

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4 Comments

  1. I have visited Pheasant Ridge twice and have plans to go back… when you go to all the Big name wineries in Lubbock (llano and Caprock) and then finally visit this place you see who really is passionate about their product. I have been blown away by the quality and the price that these guys offer…. Their 06 Chenin Blanc is the Best I have ever had in Texas and can stand up to any California Chenin Blanc or Vouvray!
    While I was there I also got a special treat as I was able to talk to the winemaker for a bit who went into the back room and came out with a 1990 Chardonay Vinters reserve…. He opened it and allowed me to have what was left of the wine it was amazing still good and had really smoothed out… I did not think that any Texas wine especially whites could last that long! It just goes to show you what this place can do! Pheasant Ridge is absolutely amazing and wish I lived closer! I am looking forward to when they release their 08 vintages I was able to sample them when they were only a few weeks old and their Chenin blanc and Chardonnay/Semillon were spectacular!

  2. Pheasant Ridge is an interesting place. It is the definition of an estate winery in the classic sense. Not big and fansy. Using their own grapes and making wine the way they like it.

    Russ

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