The Wines of Grapevine
When you think of Texas you think of Texas Longhorns (the football team and the animal), the Dallas Cowboys, oil wells, ten-gallon hats and cowboy boots but you may not think of wine. Well, you should.
According to the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association, Texas is now the 5th largest producer of wine in the United States and the number of wineries in our great state has grown from 40 to 200 in the last 8 years. When the Franciscan priests first established a vineyard in North America, circa 1662, it was right here in Texas. Today, almost 350 years later, the wine industry brings with it a more than $1.35 billion dollar economic impact on our state. With all this in mind we decided to take a look at the wineries right here in our own backyard. Grapevine is home to a number of wineries and tasting rooms and with Grapefest right around the corner starting September 16, the timing couldn’t be better to taste some Texas treasures.
La Buena Vida Vineyards began in 1972 as the vision of Dr. Bobby Smith in Springtown, Texas and came to Grapevine two decades later when the City asked Dr. Bobby to open the first tasting room in town. In January 2006, the current owner, Gina Puente, purchased the tasting room and transformed the historic limestone building in the heart of Grapevine’s historic district into a Mediterranean getaway. Aptly named, La Buena Vida means “the Good Life” in Spanish, which is exactly what you’ll be enjoying minutes after you enter. The outside facility welcomes you with beautiful Spanish-tiled fountains, inviting shady patios surrounded by luxuriant landscaping or step inside and have a seat at the turn of the century bar to sip their award-winning Texas wines. If you visit the calming oasis of La Buena Vida on any Saturday you’ll find live music mingling with the good conversation. Don’t miss trying the Red Headed Stepchild Sangria, last year’s Silver Medal Winner at Grapefest’s People’s Choice Classic, it’s hard to beat. For a perfect taste of summer pour the chilled sangria over ice and float a little fresh cut fruit in the glass. Sounds great, we’ll meet you there.
Gina Puente comes from a Texas family full of entrepreneurs and nowhere is that more evident than at the two La Bodega wineries located in DFW airport. In 1995 the Puente family was looking for a way to better utilize some of the concession space they had at the airport and Gina’s creative concept of La Bodega winery was born. La Bodega just may be the only micro winery operating in an airport in the entire world and DFW’s commuters are treated to views of the wine making process through the large display windows at certain times of the year when they are in production. In 2005 the second La Bodega opened in the international terminal and suddenly waiting for your flight becomes a whole new experience. With a knowledgeable staff and over 30 varieties of Texas Wine to choose from La Bodega shines as an ambassador to the world for the Texas wine and grape growing industry. Being “stuck” at the airport has never tasted so good.
For a taste of the French countryside without the airfare, drive over to Champagne Blvd. just off William D. Tate in Grapevine and stop by the stately French-chateau style Delaney Vineyards and Winery. Delaney’s stunningly beautiful winery sits on the edge of 10 acres of Cynthiana grapevines and was completed in 1996 about three years after the vines were planted. The main vineyard is located in Lamesa, Texas, 60 miles south of Lubbock, and consists of 120 acres of lush varietal grapes including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Chardonnay. Delaney Vineyards recently celebrated its’ twentieth anniversary and is still owned and operated by its namesake, Jerry Delaney. Stop by for a tour that shows you the age-old process of turning grape to wine and sample one of the many award-winning wines in the tasting room, like the Silver medal winner at Grapefest, Delaney’s Muscat Canelli 2007. Pass the time as you enjoy a bottle of wine out on the Crush Pad where Delaney’s offers live music on Thursday evenings from 6:00 to 9:30. J
For a more hands-on experience try Su Vino Winery right on historic Main Street in Grapevine where it’s been almost seven years since owners, David Scott and his wife, Chari opened their doors. At Su Vino the winemaking begins with crushed grapes they order from various vendors. David and his staff will be happy to help you create a custom wine for a special occasion or they can make a private label wine just for you. Tastings are available and you may want to sample one of their most popular wines, Summer Rain, which is a crisp aromatic Reisling with green apple tones. If sparkling wines tickle your fancy don’t miss the almond or raspberry champagne; bubbly deliciousness. According to David, Su Vino also has “the biggest selection of wine gifts in the area” so while you’re choosing your favorite wines to take home you can browse for that perfect gift for the wine enthusiasts in your life.
If you want to sample award-winning Texas wines without touring a production facility, the Homestead Winery tasting room in Grapevine may be just right for your palate. Homestead’s tasting room is located just off Main Street in a 1890’s Victorian-style home complete with elaborate porch detail. Inside there is a relaxed atmosphere that invites you to shop among their wide variety of wine accessories and sit a spell to sample their selection of home-grown Texas wines. If your tasting experience leaves you with a yearning to visit the source of the delicious wines just hop in your car and head out about an hour north of Dallas to Ivanhoe or Denison and visit the production facilities and tasting rooms. The Ivanhoe facility sits on the 100 year old Parker farm and the Denison production facility and wine cellar is located in the old Star movie theater with the tasting room in a 1920’s art-deco styled building. Well worth the 80 mile drive.
If you ever dreamed of creating your own “nectar of the Gods” a trip to D’Vine wine should definitely be in your future. D’Vine Wine is a great example of one of the new breeds of boutique wineries which loosely defined means they specialize in production of a smaller number of bottles of a particular wine. Instead of producing their wines from the grape D’Vine Wine starts with the finest juices which allow them to offer a much wider variety of wines. You can enjoy wine by the glass or the bottle along with light hors d’ouvres every day but Monday with live entertainment on Friday nights. Their vintners will be happy to assist you in creating your own custom wine if that’s your pleasure and you can top it off with a personalized label. While you’re there try the Decadence, a chocolate/raspberry Port that is a smooth, rich taste of heaven.
One of the oldest farmsteads in Grapevine serves as home to Cross Timbers Winery. Step back into the 1870’s with a visit to the quaint Victorian farmhouse where the barnyard smells have been replaced with the much more aromatic essence of the rich wines of Cross Timber’s tasting room. The barn, patio, crush pad, gazebo and tasting room have all served as home to special events for people from all over the area. Cross Timbers have several of their own wines available for tasting from their award-winning Blush to their delectable Evi Mi Amor Cabernet. Wine is also available from their sister cities, Parras de Fuente, Mexico, home to the over 400 year old Casa Madero winery and Krems, Austria home of Winzer Krems, a winery operated by the City of Krems and supported by grape growers from throughout the Region. At Cross Timbers you can enjoy a taste of Texas and a taste of the world.
For a fabulous wine paired with a dining experience of fine Italian food Venice is perfect, but if you want to stay closer to home head over to Farina’s Winery. If you just want to try the wine they have a welcoming bar area that begs you to stay awhile and enjoy the surroundings while sipping your wine of choice. When the mood strikes you to have a little repast they have a large selection of lunch and dinner items that promise an ambrosial Italian feast and you’ll enjoy the atmosphere complete with a huge glass grape cluster chandelier. The tasting room at Farina’s includes a European bar from the 1800’s and is chock full of marvelous antiques for you to browse through. With great live entertainment twice a week and space for special events Farina’s is truly a taste of Italy right here in Texas.
Wine has often been called the nectar of the Gods but we mere mortals have been known to enjoy a sip or two. Next time you reach for a bottle of wine make it a Texas label, you’ll be glad you did.