story and photos by Elyse Glickman
The southwest is making a serious play into beer and wine production. With areas like Napa, Sonoma, and Paso Robles already well-established within the industry, the state of Texas looks to follow California’s lead. Texas Hill Country and Burnet County are home to some rising stars in the Lone Star State. Here are some of the highlights.
Texas Hill Country
Roughly 90 minutes outside of Austin, Texas Hill Country is home to the now firmly established founders of the Texas Hill Country wine industry, Ed and Susan Auler. Inspired by a trip to France in the ‘70s, the couple set up a test plot on a corner of their Fall Creek Ranch when they returned home to experiment with wine growing with support from Texas A&M and Texas Tech University. The test plot, 400 acres along the west side of Lake Buchanan in Tow, Texas, grew into the Fall Creek Vineyards, established in 1980.
As the winery’s products grew in quality and popularity, the couple launched the Wine & Food Festival in 1986 to publicize Texas Hill Country as a known wine region. The various efforts paid off in 1990 when Ed’s application to the U.S. government for the Texas Hill Country appellation was granted. All grapes used in the wines are 100% Texas-grown and the couple is particularly proud of the single varietal Terroir Reflections wines and Bordeaux-inspired Meritus wines. “Our goal has evolved to not just making Texas wine that are on par with some of the best wines in Napa and elsewhere, but world-class wines that happen to be from Texas and stand on their own in competition and among discerning wine lovers,” says Susan. “We are excited that our wines are not just winning honors in Texas but in competitions in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and the U.K., reflecting that goal.”
2017 Chenin Blanc Headwaters Reserve: The refreshing, balanced, and food-friendly Chenin Blanc has a smooth mid-weight mouth feel thanks to the grapes being sourced from some of Texas’s oldest vines. The flavor is balanced, with bright citrusy top notes, middle notes of pear and quince, and a subtly sweet and herbaceous finish. Past expressions of this wine earned Gold Medal honors in the San Francisco International Wine Competition.
2016 Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre Terroir Reflection Salt Lick Vineyards: This release of the “GSM” is perhaps the richest and most velvety expression of the blend produced by the winery. The palate is alive with notes of clove, Chinese five-spice, and black cherry cordial as well as hints of chocolate-covered purple olives and pepper dust. It’s an ideal companion for beef, lamb, and stews.
For more information on Fall Creek visit fcv.com
Similar to the Auler’s, Blake and Karen DeBerry converted their ranch into a winery and vineyard after inspiration struck at a wine tour of Australia in 2012. Torr Na Lochs Vineyard & Winery was established in 2014 and their vines include the Syrah, Malbec, and Petite Sirah varietals, all cultivated with sustainable farming methods including: water wells powered by solar energy, organic and biodynamic fertilizers and compost, and spraying of ozonated water instead of fungicides and pesticides.
Karen explains that while the landscape where the winery stands has some visual similarities to wineries in Australia, the wines and drinking experience at her vineyard are consummately Texan: everything is crafted entirely from Texas-grown fruit. “The name Torr Na Lochs, which loosely translates from Gaelic to ‘Hill Over Lakes,’ perfectly fit the corner of Texas where [we] live, perched high above the Colorado River valley overlooking both Inks Lake and Buchanan Lake,” says Karen.
The young winery has won medals at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo 2017’s Rodeo Uncorked Wine Competition and recognition from the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition with gold awards for the 2015 Estate Syrah and 2016 Orange Muscat and a silver award for the 2016 Dolcetto.
2015 Tempranillo: The signature grape varietal hailing from Spain and widely planted in Chile and Argentina, gets a uniquely Texas twist with its aromas of cedar and dark blackberry, and rich notes of tart cherries, cinnamon, and leather on the palate. A lovely all-purpose wine that partners well with hard cheeses and charcuterie.
2015 Rousanne: This Texas answer to traditional Chardonnay provides an alternative to the familiar buttery mouth feel of the varietal with quenching hits of lemon, kiwi, and poppy seeds on the palate, balanced with rich banana essences. Nice with soft cheeses, fish, and seafood.
For more information on Torr Na Lochs visit torrnalochs.com
The Purpose Driven Beer
Dave and Quynh Rathkamp traded in their successful careers as doctors for brewers’ equipment and a dream. Save the World Brewing Company is America’s first 100% philanthropic production craft brewery. The excellent beers and the non-denominational charities that the brewery supports including Habitat for Humanity and Meals on Wheels means beer lovers can come into the tasting room to pause for a cause and enjoy creations running the gamut from breezy IPAs to velvety porters.
For more info visit savetheworldbrewing.com