On today’s episode, I’m looking for Texas wine in Grapevine and talking about the 2020 harvest that's getting underway in the Texas High Plains. There's news about a harvest investor opportunity at Kerrville Hills Winery, award winning Texas wines from the Finger Lake International Wine Competition, and the sale of Haak Winery. Texas wine women are joining forces to amplify Black women's voices next week in #ShareTheMicNowTX, and I’m drinking the 2018 Cloudburst from Bingham Family Vineyards.
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Mentioned in this Episode
Texas Wine In the News
Harvest Update from Texas Fine Wine
Texas Wine in Grapevine, Texas
I mentioned on the last episode that coronavirus has forced the cancellation of the 34th annual Grapefest, the largest wine festival in the Southwest. It was scheduled to take place along the historic Main Street in Grapevine September 17-20th. 45 Texas wineries would have been on hand for the festival that attracts more than 260,000 visitors. You can just imagine the economic impact that this cancellation has on the businesses that usually participate.
Although I just live about 20 miles away to Grapevine, I go wine tasting in the Texas Hill Country more frequently than I go to Grapevine. I suspect I’m not the only one.I thought the cancellation of GrapeFest was a good reason to take a fresh look the Texas wine culture in Grapevine. After all, Grapevine’s Convention and Visitors Bureau says Grapevine has been a hub for wineries and wine culture for 25 years.
I found some bright spots that I’m excited to share with you. And I’ve got a feeling Grapevine might be a place to watch in the years to come.
Although its population is only 54,000 residents, Grapevine lives like a bigger city. Grapevine’s proximity to DFW airport, 21 hotels and 11,000 hotels rooms makes Grapevine a popular spot for conventions. Tourism is huge here. There are plenty of activities for families including Nash Farm, SEA LIFE Grapevine, and Great Wolf Lodge.
There’s a lot of development on the horizon for Grapevine. This summer, a huge public-private partnership will be completed downtown. It includes a commuter rail line that will connect to DFW airport and downtown Fort Worth. On September 3, the Hotel Vin will open its doors. That’s a 120-bed boutique hotel that’s part of the Marriott family. It will brings with it new dining options including a signature fine dining restaurant and a food hall that features 7 kitchens and 2 bars.
So big things are happening in Grapevine, but where does the Texas wine fit in? Do they even grow grapes in Grapevine? Surely with a name like Grapevine, there’s wine to be had! Well indeed there is!
The town got its name from the wild mustang grapes that grew rampant in the area. Now the main vineyard of note is the 10-acre vineyard owned by Delaney Vineyards. It was planted in 1993 to Cynthiana grapes, otherwise known as Norton, the hybrid variety that’s the cornerstone of the Missouri wine industry. I visited last week, and I’ll tell you more about that shortly.
Did you know that Grapevine is the home of the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association?
“The city of Grapevine and the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau have always been extremely supportive of the Texas wine industry AND the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association.
There are several times throughout the year in which they fundraise for us and support the industry with non-monetary resources.
Grapefest is the largest purchaser and reseller of Texas wine! There are some synergies that occur because our office is in the same market as that event.” - TWGGA Executive Director Dacota Haselwood
Texas Wine & Grape Growers Association
While you're on the TWGGA website, submit your wines for entry in the Lone Star International Wine Competition. It will take place in late October in Grapevine.
Today I’m going to give you a couple of your best bests for visiting Grapevine. Attending a festival may be what has brought you to Grapevine before, but Grapevine also has winery tasting rooms, restaurants with Texas wines on the lists, and a wine shop a solid Texas wine selection. I’ll touch on your best bests in each of these categories and comment on where Grapevine gets it right and how Grapevine can improve to convert even more Texas wine lovers.
Grapevine is all about wine festivals. GrapeFest is the largest, but it’s just one of many. In fact, there’s another big wine festival coming up in October. It is currently still on the calendar. It’s the 28th annual New Vintage Wine & Gallery Trail & Blessing of the Vines. It was originally in April and has been pushed back.
Find out more here: New Vintage Wine & Gallery Trail
FACT: The first winery tasting room to open up in Grapevine was La Buena Vida Vineyards in 1995. Delaney Vineyards followed in 1996.
Once you’re able to visit tasting rooms again, you’ll be happy to know that my top two recommendations in Grapevine are both on Main Street. While you’re downtown, be sure to check out the bronze grapevine sculptures outside the Convention and Visitors Bureau. This public art display shows the life cycle of a grapevine and was purchased with donations secured by the Grapevine Wine Pouring Society.
My first tasting room recommendation is Bingham Family Vineyards. Bingham is first and foremost a farming family. They’re a multi-generational family that’s all about 100% Texas grown and produced estate wines from the Texas High Plains. They’ve got a tasting room in Fredericksburg and one in Meadow in addition to the one in Grapevine. You won’t find their wines in distribution because they barely make enough wine to keep their own wine club satisfied. If you want Bingham made wines, get them through the tasting rooms or online.
The Binghams own or manage around 250 acres of grapes in the Texas High Plains, and they’ve been growing grapes since 2003. They also grow grapes for over 20 other Texas wineries. In addition to grapes, the Binghams grow around 2000 acres of other organic crops including cotton and peanuts. The fact that they’re an estate winery is pretty unique among Texas wineries. They decided to start making some of their own wines in 2014 and opened the Grapevine tasting room in 2015. Production is approximately 5000 cases.
If you live within 10 miles of the tasting room, they’ll deliver your order and waive the $10 fee if you spend over $50.
Betty Bingham keeps an active blog with great recipes, wine pairings, and updates from the farm. I found an entry from back in May that gives the Bingham family’s impressions on the 2020 harvest. Betty writes, “It doesn’t look good for the 2020 grape crop at Bingham Family Vineyards. We are estimating 170 tons rather than our original expectation of 900 tons.” She has photos of several different varieties and how they fared. She writes, “they show that we are concerned not only this year’s crop, but also for the vines themselves. We will be spending extra time training many of the vines to prepare for fruit next year or in some blocks for fruit two years from now. On the whole it appears that the older the vines, the less fruit. The younger vines, except for some of those just planted last year, are actually faring better.”
Next, just down the street you’ll find Messina Hof - Grapevine. This is one of Messina Hof’s three locations. The others are in Bryan/College Station and Fredericksburg. The fourth location is under development in the greater Houston area.
Messina Hof was the 4th winery established in TX (1977) by the Bonarrigio family. It’s is a large Texas winery with about 84,000 cases produced. You’ll find the wines in wide distribution. They’ve got over 70 wines in distribution to 40 states. They work with over 20 growers statewide to produce their Texas wines.
Messina Hof Opened the Grapevine location in 2014 in the old Wallis Hotel which was built in 1891. At Messina Hof - Grapevine you’ll find multiple tasting areas, and many, many styles of wine. In fact, Messina Hof makes wines from over 25 grape varieties. There’s something for everyone here: wine on tap, wine in cans, wines by the glass, shopping, premium flights of wines that are only available at this location and more. They host lots of events too. If you’re looking for something special for a group or special event, there’s an opportunity for a private seated tasting that food.
Umbra sells Texas wine and in fact grows grapes at the sister property in Springtown. The Grapevine tasting room has made some changes to better meet the demands of current business environment. Right now Umbra is focused on a lot of gourmet food items, gift baskets, wine glasses and prepared food to go. There’s not as much seating for tastings as there used to be.
If you stop in, be sure to check out the Estrella de Vida, named for the late Dr Bobby Smith, the previous owner of La Buena Vida Vineyards, The owners of Umbra bought La Buena Vida from Dr. Smith, and he was their mentor until his death earlier this year. The wine is a Texas orange muscat, and it has a photo of Dr. Bobby on the label. The back label pays tribute to their mentor and friend and invites us to join in celebrating his life with the commemorative wine.
NOTE: Just after this recording was complete, Umbra Winery announced the consolidation of its operations to its vineyard in Springtown. The Umbra tasting room in Grapevine is closing.
Cross Timbers Winery is about half a mile off Main Street. It has a lovely outdoor patio space where you’ll often find live music. A two-story barn can be rented for parties. They only make a few hundred cases of wine, just enough to use for events at the barn and to pour in the tasting room and at the various events that happen throughout the year in Grapevine. They don’t ship wine or operate a wine club. Kim McPherson makes the wine.
Grapevine’s sister city is Parras de la Fuente, Mexico. That’s the site of Casa Madero, the oldest winery in the Americans. The late founder of Cross Timbers was friends with the folks at Casa Madero. That’s why you can taste 4 Casa Madero wines at Cross Timbers. If you go, plan to sit outside on a nice day when there’s live music. I haven’t tasted the wine, but the outdoor space could definitely be fun.
Jerry Delaney owns the 10 acre vineyard and winery in Grapevine, and also a 115 acre vineyard in Lamesa which is in the Texas High Plains AVA. The winery in Grapevine is an 8,000 square foot French chateau inspired building. It was completed in 1996, and the first bottling production was in the summer of 1997. The vineyard of Norton grapes was planted in 1993.
Delaney calls the wine produced from the Grapevine vineyard Cynthiana which is a synonym for Norton according to UC Davis Grape Registry. Norton is a hybrid variety, and it’s also the cornerstone of the Missouri wine industry. Grapevine is outside of any of the 8 AVAs in Texas, so this wine is just labeled Texas. The Texoma AVA starts well north of Grapevine.
When you’re ready for a meal, perhaps you want to try a nearby restaurant where you can try other Texas wines.
Sloan & Williams is a winery but also has a large tapas menu. Stop in there for lunch and the Texas tasting. They’ve got 5 Texas wines that they bottle under their own Sloan and Williams label from grapes grown on the Texas High Plains. Try the Texas wine flight!
If you’re craving seafood, Big Fish Seafood Grill & Bar has several Texas wines on the menu both by the bottle and by the glass.
The couple that owns Main Street Bakery, Chez Fabien, and the newer Piaf Kitchen and Wine Bar have done a good job at putting Texas wines on those wines lists. The Mediterranean themed Piaf has the most Texas wines of any restaurants in Grapevine according to my research. If you know of others that have more, please let me know! Piaf has 4 Texas wines by the glass and 6 by the bottles. They’re from the Texas wine producers that you’d expect to see: Messina Hof, McPherson, and Duchman. Piaf has a good looking upstairs patio and a wine room for private events.
The new Hotel Vin will also bring a new fine dining option to Grapevine. It’s called Bacchus Kitchen and Bar. Of course Bacchus is the Roman God of wine. The big question is, will they have Texas wine on their list? The website talks more about handcrafted cocktails and craft beer, but I’m still hopeful. I hope they’ll take a page from the Pyramid Room playbook and have not just a nice selection of Texas wines, but dedicate a little space to some Texas wine education too. I bet a lot of out of town business travelers who will likely dine here don’t even know Texas grows grapes but would be interested in trying Texas wine.
There’s an independent Wine shop on Main Street that’s worth a mention too. Off the Vine has been around for 27 years and has featured Texas wines with in store tastings. Owner Holly Donnelly has definitely seen a lot of changes in the Texas wine industry in her long tenure on Main Street. She currently features wines from Lost Draw, Reddy Vineyards, Kuhlman Cellars and several other top Texas producers. Pick up something from there and head to one of Grapevine’s BYOB spots. The one I’ve visited and loved is Café Italia. Holly also suggests Amore’s or Mason & Dixie.
Things to Do:
A lot of the things to do in Grapevine center around wine. One is the Grapevine Vintage Railroad. The railroad runs several special events each year that are adults only and focus on wine. There are Jazz Wine Trains, Halloween Wine Trains and more. The Grapevine tasting rooms supply the wine. Members of the Grapevine Wine Pouring Society pour the wine. This society meets regularly for wine education and fellowship. They’re wine ambassadors for the town of Grapevine and some of the friendliest folks you will meet. I enjoyed being a guest at their meeting in 2017 when I wrote an article about the wine pouring society for Texas Wine Lover website.
My article on the Grapevine Wine Pouring Society for Texas Wine Lover
Passengers on the wine trains travel on authentic 1920's-era Victorian train coaches along the historic Cotton Belt Route. I haven’t been on a wine train ride myself, so I don’t have a personal recommendation.
Another option Grapevine offers is a guided winery tours. Contact Grapevine Wine Tours for an outing that also includes lunch or dinner. If you want to make sure you get nothing but Texas wine, schedule a private tour for your party. The regularly scheduled tours may also include stops at a couple of the wineries I’ve mentioned, but the private tours will also include Bingham and Off the Vine which are not on the public tours.
The 8 wineries on the Urban Winery trail are part of many holiday events throughout the year. Tickets always go quickly! Grapevine is also known as the Christmas Capital of Texas, so that’s a fun time to go wine tasting, shopping and dining around the historic main street.
Some of the wrap around events planned for GrapeFest are still happening. The tennis classic and the Texas Wine Tribute, a black-tie event that recognizes leaders in Texas wine, are still on the calendar, at least for now. Check the website for more details.
So, yes, there is good Texas wine in Grapevine, you just need to know where to find it. The Texas wine culture isn’t as prevalent in Grapevine as it should be. Considering the number of visitors that come to Grapevine, both from in-state, from other states, and from around the world, showcasing Texas wine should be a priority here.
I would love to see more wineries on Main Street, and I wish they all sold Texas wine. I wish every Grapevine restaurant had a section of its wine list dedicated to Texas wine, and I wish there was more variety in the wines on wine lists.
Grapevine has the perfect infrastructure for creating more Texas wine lovers, and the city has already done so much for the industry.
A huge thank you to those Texas wineries, restaurants, wine shops, TWGGA, and other businesses that support Texas wine in Grapevine. I support you and encourage all my listeners to get to Grapevine to check out the new developments, dine in the new restaurants, and buy some Texas wine! When Texas tasting rooms reopen, don’t forget about the ones in Grapevine. Cheers!
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