by Leanne Holley, Editor Texas Wine and Trail
In Moravia, Texas….wait. Where? MORAVIA mor-ah-vee-ya. You know! East of Seguin, between Flatonia and Shulenburg…ok never mind. Texas is a huge state but we already know that don’t we? If you’ve ever zoomed in to Google Maps, and I mean realllllly zoom, you’ve probably been humbled by our size from staring at the thousands of little communities you’ve never heard of. Communities like Weimar, St. Jo and Moravia. As Texans, we also know if we want to get out and see our incredible state and the wonderful people in it, it’s going to involve several stops for gas and food, and maybe a hotel stay (or two).
As the wine industry in Texas starts to stretch its legs, more and more wineries are popping up along the countryside. Adventurous entrepreneurs taking on the enormous uphill challenge of starting a vineyard and winery in Texas are supported by solid industry organizations like the state sponsored GoTexan program, The Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association (TWGGA) and in Central Texas, The Texas Hill Country Wineries group which is now up to 42 member wineries. But this growing group of winery owners depend on Lone Star wine lovers to justify all their back breaking efforts that keep the wine flowing down the bottling line and into glasses around the state. In return, we enthusiastically support these ambitious few by trying their wines, sharing their stories on our social timelines, and most importantly we support them with our winery visits. Believe it or not, your smiling face at their tasting bar makes it all worth it. Texas wine drinkers won’t shy away from a road trip, but the challenge is finding those far out wineries to make the excursion well worth the travel.
Here is our list of 10 Texas wineries tucked away and worth the drive:
1. Bar Z Winery
Panhandle Region Now in its fifth year located at the tip of the Palo Duro Canyon, Bar Z Winery continues to be one of the top spots in the Panhandle to enjoy a sunset or host an event. The setting at Bar Z is particularly unique with its sweeping views of the prairie paired with the deep crevasses of the canyon. “We don’t have our own landscaping-we left God’s landscaping alone,” says Vintner Monty Dixon.Though grapes are not grown on the property, the facility provides the romance and richness of wine-making as a backdrop. All Bar Z wines are made entirely with Texas grapes grown in the Texas High Plains AVA (American Viticultural Area).
Located at: 19290 FM 1541,Canyon, Texas 79015
Phone: (806) 488-2214
2. Tara Vineyard and Winery
North Region Tara Vineyard & Winery is the oldest winery in Henderson County, and is owned and operated by the Pierce family. Nestled in among the vineyard is the beautiful TARA INN a bed and breakfast housed in the historic Murchison home. The home was constructed in the 1880′s and relocated from downtown Athens, Texas.
The winery building and Cellar Door restaurant are on the second hilltop on the estate, with a lovely covered pavilion/patio/lawn and flagstone fire pits. The patio/pavilion overlooks the Blanc Du Bois vineyard and the rolling panoramic hills of East Texas. Located approximately 75 miles southeast of Dallas and 5 miles NW of downtown Athens, TARA is the perfect setting to relax and feel like you are in another world, “the TARA world”.
Located at: 8603 County Road 3914, Athens, Texas 75752
Phone: (903) 675-7023
3. Barking Rocks Vineyard and Winery
Central Region Small batches of premium wines are handcrafted in an old stone cattle barn located between historic Granbury and Thorp Springs, Texas. Owner and winemaker Lawrence Tiberia has created a tasting room atmosphere true to the region’s roots. Texas folk art adorns the rustic walls so visitors can sip, shop and be entertained with live music when scheduled. The winery is open for tastings, talks and sales every Friday and Saturday afternoon, also by appointment (or by chance). The winery mission is clear, “making wine, friends and events happen!” If you’re looking to learn more about the wine making process or just enjoy good conversation over great Texas wines, Barking Rocks is an excellent place to visit.
Located at: 1919 Allen Court, Granbury, Texas 76048
Phone: (817) 579-0007
4. Lewis Wines
Central Region This modern Hill Country winery is situated on a 100 acre estate just west of Johnson City, in the heart of the Texas Hill Country AVA. Conveniently located on Wine Road 290, 60 minutes west of Austin, 60 minutes north of San Antonio and 30 minutes east of Fredericksburg, the small winery has BIG views of the famous Texas Hill Country landscape and memory making sunsets. Lewis Wines specializes in Mediterranean varieties with a focus on Spanish and Portuguese. Owner Doug Lewis is committed to making wines that are a unique and intriguing expression of Texas terroir, using low impact methods of sustainable farming and minimal manipulation in the cellar. Lewis Wines may be young, but they have already made Texas Monthly’s “Wine of the Month” pick more than once. They offer tastings by appointment only in the barrel room or outside when weather permits.
Located at: 3209 Hwy. 290 West, Johnson City, Texas 78636
Phone: (512) 987-0660
5. The Weimary
South Central Region Grohmann Farms in Weimar, TX is the location of The Weimary, a casual wine tasting room and Grohmann Haus (the event venue at the Vineyard). Grohmann Farms is in the Gulf Coast region of Texas and works hard to produce Blanc du Bois and Lenoir grape varietals, but seeking variety, additional grapes are sourced from across the United States. The Weimary hosts their own unique ‘market day’ fairs and music events throughout the year and is also one of 8 Texas wineries on the Texas Independence Wine Trail which hosts seasonal trails in the South Texas wine region.
The Weimary at Grohmann Farms is surrounded by beautiful green vineyards, and their patio/pavillion sets the stage for a lovely tasting experience. Open Thursday through Sunday, the winery offers seasonal snacking trays and a chocolate cravings tray to accompany their growing list of wines, which run the full gamut from sweet table whites to traditional reds and several wonderful blends.
Located at: 1101 Sedan Road, Weimar, Texas
Phone: (979) 743-1211
6. Blue Ostrich Winery and Vineyards
North Region For many years this facility was one of the foremost ostrich breeding and ranching facilities in the southwest …. and yes, they still have several ostrich’s on the property that visitors can view. Blue Ostrich offers free winery tours everyday during normal business hours where you can learn the history of the property and their transition from big birds to bold wines.
Their available wine list continues to grow, and owners along with their hardworking staff recently bottled over 1800 cases of new wine styles including Viognier, Blanc du Bois, Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio. Like most Texas wineries, Blue Ostrich is open Thursday through Sunday with occasional live music and events. Blue Ostrich’s “Cielo,” their top selling sweet red, is alone worth the drive to St. Jo, but spending time with owners Patrick and Julie Whitehead will leave you inspired to repeat the trip again and again.
Located at: 5611 FM 2382, Saint Jo, TX 76265
Phone: (940) 995.3100
7. Arché Winery
North Region “Wines as Big as Texas” is the theme at Arché, a family owned and operated winery in St. Jo, Texas by Howard and Amy Davies. Son Grayson Davies, a Texas Tech graduate, is one of the youngest winemakers in Texas. The family started growing grapes under the name Oak Creek Vineyards, the first commercial winegrape vineyard in Montague County. After several years of selling grapes to other Texas wineries, the Davies established their own winery, Arché, in 2007, whose wines are and always have been 100% Texas grown.
Texas wine enthusiasts can enjoy the scenery of the vineyards while savoring wines on a leisurely walk among the vines, or enjoy a glass of wine with a picnic lunch at one of the large tables. Arché has cheese plates and smoked salmon plates available for purchase, so if you get “the snacks” after your drive or while visiting, they’ve got you taken care of. This award winning winery is just a short jump from Blue Ostrich, which makes St. Jo, Texas a great destination for a day trip.
Located at: 228 Wagner Road, Saint Jo, Texas 76265
Phone: (214) 536-6330
8. Red Caboose Winery
East Region Father and Son team, Gary and Evan McKibben, have designed Red Caboose Winery with a green philosophy and fine wine in mind. Using advanced geothermal cooling and photo-voltaic cells, they have created a winery that is energy efficient and sustainable. Wines produced by Red Caboose have been earning awards in competitions around the country, including recent selection by Wine Business Monthly for its prestigious list of “The Top Ten Hottest Brands in 2012.” Located just 90 miles southwest of Dallas, the Meridian, Texas winery is successfully achieving both goals.
A second tasting room location in Clifton, Texas has recently opened and visitors are welcome Thursday through Sunday. The Meridian winery is open Friday through Sunday and hosts Cork & Fork, an evening with live music and no cover, where guests are encouraged to bring their own picnics to enjoy along with Award Winning Red Caboose wines.
Located at: 1147 CR 1110, Meridian, TX 76665
Phone: (254) 435-9911
9. Haak Vineyards
South Central Region It all began in 1969 on the 10th wedding anniversary of Raymond and Gladys Haak. Gladys’ gifts to Raymond that year were two Concord grapevines. What began as a hobby with those two vines soon turned into a great passion for both of the novice winemakers. A few years later, Raymond read about a hybrid grape variety that was said to be resistant to Pierce’s Disease and grew well in dry, hot environments. It was called Blanc du Bois. Haak became one of the first wineries in the country to cultivate Blanc du Bois, and his foresight has proven positive as the winery has produced numerous medal-winning wines from the Blanc du Bois grapes.
Today, the winery consists of more than 25,000 sq. ft., including an 1,800 sq. ft. cellar, which is used for storing and aging wines in oak barrels. Haak Vineyards and Winery has grown into a destination for many locals and a major tourist attraction for Santa Fe, Texas as well as Galveston County.
Located at: 6310 Avenue T, Santa Fe, Texas 77510
Phone: (409) 925-1401
10. Majek Vineyard & Winery
South Central Region Lynne and Randy Majek have taken the dream of “one day owning a winery” and made it happen. They left the corporate world behind and have never looked backed. If you have the urge to plant a vineyard in Texas or start your own winery, it is highly advised to take a trip to Moravia and pay the Majeks a visit before embarking on your venture.
Majek Vineyard & Winery is a boutique Texas winery, open for wine tastings and vineyard tours, located in the scenic hills near Houston and San Antonio. Memories of special occasions featuring Czech homemade wine, and views of their neighbor’s vineyard, drew the Majeks to create this boutique central Texas winery. Their family roots are reflected in everything from their native sausage and cheese plates, to the celebration of local musicians and local artists. Their website has an entire page aptly titled, “The Saga” which is very entertaining and recounts the difficulty and hurdles the Majeks have overcome in all aspects of their business journey. Recently celebrating their 1st year Anniversary, the winery and vineyard in Moravia, Texas has accomplished a major milestone. Texas wine travelers are encouraged to visit the tasting room and sample Majek’s award-winning wines, created from 100% Texas grapes, in person. You will be delighted and maybe “catch the bug” that keeps biting Texas winery owners.
Located at: 12562 CO RD 957, Moravia, TX 78956
Phone: (210) 413-8912
Barking Rocks image: Visit Granbury; Haak Vineyards image: Local Houston Magazine; Lewis Wines image: Wine of the Moment