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Touring Texas Wineries


Kevin72
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This past Saturday, my wife and I took off and began what will hopefully be a series of pleasant daytrips or weekend sojourns investigating Texas wines and wineries. We’ve always been suckers for the Texas wine scene: timing our trip to Fredericksburg last fall to coincide with their wine tasting, attending the Grapevine wine festival in the punishing late summer heat, and even holding our wedding reception at Delaney Vineyards in Grapevine.

Our reference book was The Wine Roads of Texas, by Wes Marshall. He details chief wineries, reviews and recommends their stock, profiles the winemakers (all have interesting stories to tell, it seems). Best of all he arranges the book by regions with suggested itineraries for day trips or long weekends, even including places to stay and eat in the vicinity.

So, Saturday morning, with a belly full of Einstein’s bagels, camera, notebook, and Marshall’s book in tow, we headed off north of Dallas, the new Beck album blaring. Following Marshall’s suggestion, we would go north on 35, to just past Sanger, then east along the back country roads, hitting Lone Oak Vineyards, then cut over to Tioga for lunch, and back down again, hitting Cross Roads Vineyards on the way back.

From 3040 and I35 in Lewisville, it took about 40 minutes (traffic included) to get to our first stop, Lone Oak Vineyards.

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>>On the road to Lone Oak Vineyards

We got there earlier than the posted opening time of noon but the gates were open. Owner Robert Wolf was out in the already sweltering sun, clearing some underbrush. He led us into the tasting room and we quickly got underway.

Robert’s an interesting, easygoing guy, bearing a passing resemblance to actor Billy Bob Thornton in mannerisms. Over an hour blew by talking to him over wine samples. He related one of their biggest problems in the past few years is wild hogs which have a knack for finding the grapes just as they reach full ripeness. In 2004 they reduced the Cabernet Sauvignon crop by nearly 80 percent (what remained is outstanding, he adds). He also operates the Rudy’s Barbecue franchises in North Texas, so he couldn’t fully endorse our lunch plans at Clark’s Outpost in Tioga. It’s hard not to catch his enthusiasm though; he’s really excited about their first batch of Port due to be released close to the Holidays this year, and he’s positively giddy about this year’s wine crop with the near-perfect weather for it.

We sampled the 2002 Merlot (save it, Sideways freaks), the 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2003 Merlot, and Dolce Rouge, a sweet red that they had only recently started producing.

I have to say both my wife and I had agreed to completely write off Texas red wines after tasting far too many samples that were all oak or sugar and little or no depth. They all seem to have a faint taste almost like leather, but just no complexity. Still, Wes Marshall gives Lone Oaks’ Merlots top ranks, and I was intrigued. Furthermore, unlike many Texas wineries, the grapes were grown on-site, and the Wolfs use French oak (Marshall says this is more subtle than American oak) for their barrels. In fact, the Wolfs modeled their winery after the French Bordeaux style, which is why they don’t offer any white wines in their stock.

All this is to say that the 2002 Merlot was very impressive, the 2003 even more so. Very full-flavored, complex. At the time I thought the Cabernet we sampled did have a tinge of that tell-tale “leathery” taste to it, but it still had much more body than most Texas Reds we sampled. Even the Dolce Rouge, the sweet red wine, wasn’t as headache-inducingly sugary as many other samples we’d tried over the years.

After we were done with our samples, Robert took us in back to the barrel room, where we tried, straight from the barrel, 100 percent Merlot (the 2002 is 88%, the 2003 is 90%) which was even more suave and fruity. We also sampled some port that they will be releasing later this fall for the first time. My wife said she couldn’t wait for the Holidays if this is what we had to drink then!

We purchased a bottle of the 2002 and 2003 Merlots. Robert recommends letting the 2003 Merlot sit for about a year (though again, he and I agreed it’s enjoyably full-flavored now), up to a maximum of four years. Robert told us that S&K in Plano sells some of the wines, but for a broader selection, it’s best just to go to the winery itself. Robert’s point of pride is that they have no plans to expand their winery size for a larger distribution. More chatting while purchasing the wines, and Robert wrote down a few wineries to check out in the Hill Country, hopefully an upcoming trip for us this fall.

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>>Vineyards at the entrance of Lone Oak.

We headed off for Tioga and lunch at Clark’s Outpost barbecue.

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I was a little disappointed, particularly in the ribs, which were dry. None of the meat had that big, smoky flavor and was even a little underseasoned. It’s changed ownership in the past few years and has consolidated with the catfish restaurant in town (forget the name) so there may be some growing pains. Should’ve listened to Robert and headed back to Denton for Rudy’s.

On the way out of Tioga, within about five miles south of town on 377, is Hidden Springs Winery. We were on a time crunch that day so Hidden Springs lost out, but it’s an easy stop on the way for three wineries in one day trip just north of Dallas.

Next stop was Cross Roads Vineyards. Robert had warned us that it has since changed hands and moved from the location in Marshall’s book, but we went to the original location anyways, figuring it might still have the tasting room up. Well, we arrived and found it completely abandoned. Luckily, Robert had furnished us with a number for the new location, and we were able to call and get directions.

It’s not the most appealing location right now: located in a complex of large, green, commercial sheds. The winery has also changed hands, to a youngish couple John and Monica (neglected to get their last name). John has had experience with wineries in Oregon so it will be interesting to see where he takes Cross Roads. The wine available for sale now is under the old label and producer. John proudly showed us the new label for the wines that they have begun producing. Their grapes come in from West Texas.

We tasted the Fume Blanc, then the Texas Rojo, the Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and the Reserve Cabernet Sauv. All the reds were 2001 vintage and again, unfortunately lacked much depth and complexity. But we both did like the Cabernet Franc, which had an interesting floral but not sweet note to it. We bought a bottle of the Sauvignon Blanc (conversely, we both do think that Texas does dry whites quite well) and headed back home. Cross Roads has distribution in Dallas from Whole Foods on Preston and Connoisseur in the same shopping center as Zorba’s, Luna de Noche, Red Hot and Blue, etc on Preston and Plano Parkway.

We wanted to have the Lone Oaks 2002 Merlot with dinner that night. It was then we realized that we had gotten the Cabernet Sauvignon by mistake, and I was a little disappointed since I wasn’t as big on that as I was on the Merlots. Still we opened it anyways and I was surprised how well it went along with the meal, changing flavors with the dishes (bruschetta, pasta with ricotta, roasted lamb) and as it sat as well. Its harsher notes softened, either from breathing or with the food, so that by the end of the meal I was well-pleased. Sunday night we had the Sauvignon Blanc with our dinner and it fit in effortlessly, no heavy oak or sugars intruding.

So from this trip we’ve learned to rekindle hope in Texas reds. Lone Oak is really doing them well and it’s worth a little day trip to head out there and meet the Wolfs and chat over some wine samples. Cross Roads is a short hop from Frisco if you’re in the area, and hopefully with more support they can move to a more appealing locale and really open up their distribution.

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Lone Oak Vineyards

4781 E. Lone Oak ( east F.M 3002), Valley View, TX 76272. (940) 637-2612. Tasting room hours: Thurs-Sat. noon-5pm or call for appointment.

Cross Roads Vineyards:

**Has moved locations from the one listed in The Wine Roads of Texas.

15222 King Road, #1001 Frisco, TX 75034. (972) 294-4144

[From Main Street in Frisco, take it west to 423. When it crosses 423, it becomes King Road. Go about a mile and start looking for a complex of large, green metal sheds on the right. Turn in and Cross Roads is all the way in the back row.]

Marshall, Wes. The Wine Roads of Texas: an Essential Guide to Texas Wines and Wineries. San Antonio: Maverick Publishing, 2002.

Big thanks to Richard Kilgore for advice, guidance and suggestions on researching Texas wineries as well as creating this thread.

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Oh my goodness. I just got back from a two day lavendar picking excursion to Blanco and was wondering about the wineries in the area. I think I am going to have to put the Willie Nelson CDs back in the changer and make another trip.

I am not a wine freak but I could get into Texas wines. I have done the festival at Messina Hoff and the "port" is quite good.

Thanks for the tour.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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Forgot to add: certainly, any experiences with touring Texas wineries, opinions on Texas wines or the Texas wine scene, are welcome to be discussed here.

My husband and I just got back from a trip to Fredricksburg and Stonewall. We stayed at the Rose Hill Manor outside Stonewall. The place is fabulous... out of the way but quiet, peaceful and very romantic rooms. The food is spectacular. The chef is Ned Elliott. He has quite a pedigree... worked with Alain Ducais and Thomas Keller <sic>. The rooms are a good value (IMHO) for what you get which includes a wonderful breakfast and a very relaxing weekend.

We visited 2 wineries... Becker on Saturday. (I really liked the Clementine wine.. sweet dessert wine). Sister Creek on Sunday. The chardonnay is wonderful as is their reserve Muscat canelli (the man likes residual sugar in his wine).

We do hope to get back up there when the weather is cooler...

Matilda

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My husband and I just got back from a trip to Fredricksburg and Stonewall. We stayed at the Rose Hill Manor outside Stonewall. The place is fabulous... out of the way but quiet, peaceful and very romantic rooms.  The food is spectacular.  The chef is Ned Elliott. He has quite a pedigree... worked with Alain Ducais and Thomas Keller <sic>.  The rooms are a good value (IMHO) for what you get which includes a wonderful breakfast and a very relaxing weekend.

We visited 2 wineries... Becker on Saturday. (I really liked the Clementine wine.. sweet dessert wine).  Sister Creek on Sunday.  The chardonnay is wonderful as is their reserve Muscat canelli (the man likes residual sugar in his wine).

We do hope to get back up there when the weather is cooler...

We're also looking to do a fall trip to Fred. Lonely Rose sounds good, thanks for the rec. If you go in mid-late October, they have the wine festival one of those weekends and you can sample many local wineries at once.

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Oh my goodness. I just got back from a two day lavendar picking excursion to Blanco and was wondering about the wineries in the area. I think I am going to have to put the Willie Nelson CDs back in the changer and make another trip.

I am not a wine freak but I could get into Texas wines. I have done the festival at Messina Hoff and the "port" is quite good.

Thanks for the tour.

Certainly your blog a few weeks back and then the excellent Monica Pope chat got me really wanting to explore the local wine scene more. It's a natural extension of terroir and making meals of what grows around you.

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  • 2 weeks later...

If you are visiting the "central" Texas wineries, we like to make a "wine trip to Fred" about once a year.

This involves leaving for Fredricksburg (from Austin) about 9 or so, stopping for jerky in Johnson City, and on to Fred, where we have a short shopping tour and lunch. Then we go past Fred to Chism Trail, and back to Fredricksburg to visit the city winery (which is yucky, but part of the ritual). We then stop at the Grapevine winery, Beckers (with an additional glass on the porch), and end the day at Texas Hills. There we unpack the pcnic basket, and having purchased an additional bottle or 2, watch the sun set (or what we can see of it.)

Going north out of Austin, we enjoy a trip to Spicewood vineyards.

kcd

" Time and trouble will tame an advanced young woman, but an advanced old woman is uncontrollable by any earthly force."--Dorothy L. Sayers.

As someone who just turned 50, I look forward to this state-of-being.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Thanks for posting this, i especially enjoyed the imagery you included. :biggrin:

This post has inspired me to take a trip to some Texas wineries, which I have been wanting to do for some time now. Now I just need to get off my butt and do it!

Has anyone heard anything about the wineries in the Hill Country? Any recommendations? I have heard of the ones in Fredricksburg but I am not sure if that is in the Hill Country... THere is also a winery in Lago Vista that I have wanted to go to with my boyfriend, not sure of the name though.

Thanks!

Edited by BlahFace (log)

eat me.

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Fredericksburg is considered the Hill Country.

I'd strongly recommend Marshall's book to help you sift through the places to visit; probably half of it is taken up with the wineries in the Hill Country.

thanks, i'll look into :wink:

eat me.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Earlier this year, My wife and I took a day trip to Los Pinos Vineyards. It is a little south of pittsburg, Texas. They had a cool Spanish style tasting room. cured meats, olives, cheeses olive oils and breads to snack on. To taste all the wines was like $5!! We wound up buying the White Mesa blend, some Cabernet and I purchased a few bottles of some sweet white wine for my driver's wife as a gift for him to bring back to her. The winemaker's son was on hand to pour our wines and answer any questions we had about the wine.

We then traveled to Kippersol vineyards which is a little south of Tyler Texas. WHAT AN EXTRAVAGANT PROPERTY! The wine maker is a young mid 20s girl/ daughter of a farmer/dad basicly paid for the whole development since it seems he owns about all of South Africa. He has handed over to her his vast farming resources to pursue her dream of being a wine maker. She seems to be doing pretty well. They have been planting plenty of different variatals trying to find which is best for that soil. The wines were good and inexpensive. I purchased some Cabernet and Port. The only thing I didnt like was the Cabernet that had some ginger juice in it and her confessing her love for Yellowtail. But, Wow what a development. The vineyard is also a gated community with a restaurant that must have cost a couple of million to build. We did eat at the restaurant for dinner and it was good--almost very good. They did have some more obscure South African wines on the restaurant's wine list.

All in all I was very impressed with the quality of the vineyards and their tasting rooms. I did see and purchase the Texas Wine Road Trip book that yall are talking about. This weekend Im going to San Antonio and Im bringing the book just in case a few spare hours pop up to visit a nearby winery.

Gorganzola, Provolone, Don't even get me started on this microphone.---MCA Beastie Boys

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Thanks for the post, Dave. I'm really intrigued by the Los Pinos winery now, but I'm not sure where Pittsburg even is.

Time and again, I keep hearing that where Texas wines will take off is if they use Italian and Spanish varietals instead of trying to mimic California and France.

I'm curious about the Kippersol Cabernet . . . it had actual ginger juice in it? Or just that flavor? Did the owner say why? Is that a common practice?

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I'm really intrigued by the Los Pinos winery now, but I'm not sure where Pittsburg even is.

I'm curious about the Kippersol Cabernet . . . it had actual ginger juice in it? Or just that flavor? Did the owner say why? Is that a common practice?

We drove to Marshall, TX then straight up from there to get to Los Pinos.

She never really said why she did it. Im guessing, She didnt like the way the plain cab tasted and woke up and decided to do that. They did after all make a spicy seasoning for steaks that used all the sediment dried up from the barrels. As well as a cabernet hot sauce. Those darn farmers wont throw away anything!

Also, It was the 2003 Syrah that I purchused with the Port at Kippersol. I drank a bottle last night as the Saints gave demo after demo on how not to tackle. It was very, very good---the wine not the Saints.

Gorganzola, Provolone, Don't even get me started on this microphone.---MCA Beastie Boys

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  • 4 weeks later...

Greetings to all who love and understand the Vine!

This month the e-news is coming out really late. We just have been so occupied with harvest and crush, that it has been difficult to sit for five minutes to send our salutations.

Grape harvest from west Texas has been delayed this year due to rain, and we are slated to receive the last three shipments this week, both Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese!

We are all pretty pooped out, and are looking forward to some rest.

Other items of interest are too numerous to relay here, but notably we are taking on some more distribution duties to get the wine out to more stores and ultimately to the people.

My old business partner Jim Jacoby and family are leaving California to leave here in beautiful east Texas, and Jim will be responsible for our distribution and outside wine sales activities.

We are all very excited waiting for his arrival sometime in October!

I also wanted to tell all of you about the September 24th event that we are hosting here at the winery.

The 3rd annual Taste of East Texas Wine and Food Festival will be held that day from noon to 11 pm on the winery lawn, and will feature Texas Food, Texas Wine, and almost non-stop live Texas music!

Admission this year is a modest $6 per person, and kids under 13 are free.

You can call 903-855-1769 to purchase tickets with a Visa or Mastercard and we will mail you your tickets, or you can buy them at the gate the day of the event if you prefer.

Tickets will also be available at various local merchants as we have garnered their help and will be donating $1 of each sold ticket to the Pittsburg Main Street Program in hopes of helping our downtown businesses continue to prosper and improve our community.

A bit more info will be posted on our website www.LosPinosRanchVineyards.com/The_Events.html

This will be a family friendly event, so bring a lawn chair and the kids if you’d like.

All the vendors will be offering small samples of their cuisine and wines at a nominal $1, $2, $4 type pricing structure to keep things simple, and the fare will be a very wide range of delicious goodness! J

We hope you will all come out and celebrate East Texas with us, and share some nice Texas wine and cuisine!

In the meantime;

Live Well, Love Much, laugh Often, and drink wine in moderation,,,, frequently!

Jeff Sneed

Los Pinos Ranch Vineyards

Gorganzola, Provolone, Don't even get me started on this microphone.---MCA Beastie Boys

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  • 3 weeks later...

I really loved Dry Comal Creek Vineyards. THe French Colombard was excellent, and the tour was great. The host, Jim, is great and they give a nice little tour of the place.

I also like Dry Comal Creek Vineyards. Like the new crop of Texas Vineyards, Dry Comal Creek focuses on grapes that can grow in Texas. Our favorite is the Spanish Black.

"As far as I'm concerned, bacon comes from a magical, happy place" Frank, John Doe

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