Re(de)fining Texas Wine- #Thesip

Refine (v)

: to remove the unwanted substances in (something)

: to improve (something) by making small changes

Define (v)

: to explain the meaning of (a word, phrase, etc.)

: to show or describe (someone or something) clearly and completely

Last night was about defining, refining, and redefining Texas wine.  It was about what we’ve learned in the last ten years and where we are going in the next ten. It was about challenging the preconceptions, the misconceptions. And it was about good wines. Very good wines.

Maya Angelou suggested that we should do the best we can until we know better, then when we know better, we should do better. After years of trial and error, of heeding advice that turned out to be incorrect, of battling elements and reputation, Texas is making the changes and improving the quality of wines we can produce. And those in the know are noticing.

If you have opened a magazine or read anything about the industry, you know that it is truly an exciting time in Texas wine. International accolades, competing (and winning) against some of the more reputable regions. It is expanding in breadth, indeed, but that was not the focus of the event at Spicewood Vineyards.  It was not about making more wine. It was about making better wine.

We’ve learned that grapes not only can grow here, they can thrive. We’ve learned that better vineyard management yields better wine. Fewer tons per acre allows for more concentrated flavors. Less is more. We’ve learned which varieties work best in our soils and conditions. In the last few years, we have been able to attract some truly talented winemakers to come alongside the veterans and the results are exciting.

We heard from Ron Yates of Spicewood Vineyards, Dan Gatlin of Inwood Estates Vineyards, Sergio Cuadra and Susan Auler of Fall Creek Vineyards, and Gina Ross of Stone House Vineyards.  We sampled juice from grapes harvested two weeks ago and bottles just released from 2010. We tasted a range from Sauvignon Blanc to Cabernet Sauvignon, even a Norton.

One thing was consistent. These wines were made with great passion. Each winemaker is committed to making the best possible wine, wine that can compete internationally but can only be made here. They are making wines that speak of Texas terroir, made with Texas spirit. Texas winemakers are continually striving to know more, do better. And the resulting wines are refined, helping to redefine Texas wine.

Here are some highlights:

Spicewood Vineyards 2014 Sauvignon Blanc– green pear, balanced acidity, citrus notes, clean and coying

Spicewood Vineyards 2014 Mourvedre Rosé– color of vin gris, fruit, floral, and dust. Savory and balanced, a favorite.

Spicewood Vineyards 2012 Estate Tempranillo– Intoxicating nose, Bing cherry, cinnamon stick, violet, grippy tannins and toasted brown sugar

Fall Creek GSM Salt Lick Vineyards– A chatty little number with red and black fruit, white pepper and cocoa, perfumed and balanced.

Fall Creek Vineyards 2012 Vintner Selection Series– Cab, Merlot, and Sangio make quite the trio (no more rhyming now, I mean it…). bold and elegant, balanced, blue fruit, smoky, chewy, spicy and green woodsy notes.

Inwood Estates Mericana-Incredibly integrated, balanced, Bing cherry, green leaves and stems, baking spice. Sturdy and steady.

Inwood Estates 2013 Magdelena-Enornously complex, Bing and red cherry, wildberries, perfumed violet, baking spice, aromatic

Stone House Vineyards Norton– In Texas? Yes, indeed. Super thick-skinned, deep purple almost opaque. Blueberry and clove, tart and chewy, a fun wine to try.


Many thanks to Matt McGinnis of Pen & Tell Us for organizing this event and inviting me to participate as media.

I received no other compensation.




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Being a stay- at-home mom can leave one thirsting for a taste of the outside world, a world in which sentences are composed of more than three words. Being an educator means one is always seeking an opportunity to explore and learn. Being a woman with a need to connect can be a challenge when adult conversations are rare. In wine, I find the marriage of art and science, agriculture and storytelling provides limitless areas to explore. But it is the people that keep me engaged. The tenacity needed to keep the family dream alive, the risk to start anew, the trials and principles. I love the history of the vine, the impact of a season, the sentiment in the bottle. That is why I write. I write to tell their stories, to share a piece of mine. I write to learn as I teach others. I write to connect with new friends, to disconnect from the world. I write to celebrate what makes each of us unique, and that which ties us together.

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