By Penny S. Adams, winemaker and viticulturist for Wedding Oak Winery
This gorgeous spring weather in Texas calls for a picnic. Why wait for Memorial Day when you can pack a basket of delicious food and Texas wine to drink with it. Here are three food friendly wines that will feel right at home on a picnic blanket, paired with excellent recipes from the United Tastes of Texas cookbook by Jessica Dupuy.
There is no better wine to serve at a picnic than a dry rosé. The crisp, acidic qualities of rosé makes it versatile and the perfect match with a wide range of flavors in picnic dishes. Our rosé is made with Dolcetto grapes grown in the Diamante Doble Vineyard in Tokio, Texas. It is a party in a bottle with fresh scents of red berry fruit with peppery undertones. It has vibrant flavors of raspberry, cranberry and fresh-picked strawberry with a touch of lemon zest. I recommend pairing it with a hearty potato salad.
Hill Country Potato Salad (Page 14 of United Tastes of Texas)
- Bring potatoes, salt, and water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook 10 to 15 minutes or until tender, drain and rinse under cold water 1 minute. Drain well.
- Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium-low heat 8 minutes or until crisp; remove bacon, and drain on paper towels, reserving 2 Tsbsp. Drippings. Crumble bacon.
- Peel potatoes, and cut into 1-inch pieces. Combine potatoes, bacon, reserved 2 Tbsp. warm drippings, eggs, next 5 ingredients, and pickles, if desired, in a large bowl. Add salt and black pepper to taste. Serve warm or at room temperature.
A chilled, bright white wine is always a fantastic choice for a picnic. Our Baby’s Breath is a festive wine that is perfect on a sunny day. And, it is packaged in a twist top, so no corkscrew is necessary. It has wonderful floral aromas from Riesling grown in the Texas High Plains, and rich honeyed pear flavors from the Roussanne grape. It is complex without being fussy with fresh citrus, candied lemon peel, baked apples with cinnamon, and firm minerals with a clean finish. It has just a hint of sweetness balanced with a slight tartness that pairs gorgeously with fried chicken.
Honey-friend Chicken with White Wine Cream Sauce (Page 84 of United Tastes of Texas)
- Combine first 4 ingredients in a large glass or ceramic bowl; add chicken. Cover and chill 4 to 8 hours, turning occasionally.
- Remove chicken from marinade; drain on paper towels. Pour marinade through a wire-mesh strainer into a bowl, reserving 2 Tbsp. marinade. Discard remaining marinade.
- Place flour in a shallow dish. Whisk eggs with buttermilk in a separate shallow dish. Dip chicken in egg mixture; dredge in flour, shaking off excess.
- Pour oil to depth of 1 inch into a large cast-iron skillet; heat to 275 F. Fry chicken, in batches, turning occasionally, 15 to 20 minutes or until evenly browned and done. Drain on a wire rack over paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste while hot.
- Remove and discard oil from skillet. Reserving drippings in skillet. Add wine, and cook 2 minutes, stirring to loosen browned bits from bottom of skillet. Add broth, and simmer 8 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half. Add cream and reserved 2 Tbsp. marinade. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 6 minutes or until mixture thickens and coats a spoon.
- Pour sauce through a wire-mesh strainer into a serving bowl. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Serve with fried chicken.
For you red wine lovers, we have a fantastic wine to sip under the Texas sky. Texedo Red made with a blend of Dolcetto, Montepulciano, Sangiovese and Tannat grapes is a lush wine full of raspberry, strawberry, blackberry, plum and concentrated dried berries mingled with tobacco and vanilla. It has a velvety mouth feel with just a touch of sweetness wrapped around a core of grippy tannins. Serve it lightly chilled with a variety of spicy and tangy dishes. I love it with tortilla chips and Texas Caviar.
Texas Caviar (Page 204 of United Tastes of Texas)
Stir together all ingredients in a serving bowl. Cover and chill, stirring occasionally, 8 hours.
No matter what food you choose to pair with our wines, we want to make it easy for you to plan. We have packaged these three wines in a convenient “Summer Picnic Basket” special. Just click here to order our “Summer Picnic Basket.”
By Penny S. Adams, winemaker and viticulturist for Wedding Oak Winery
You know that sickening feeling you get when a storm is barreling down on you, and your car is left out in the elements? You just know that it is going to be pummeled by hail, resulting in a costly trip to the body shop.
Now imagine how you would feel if your entire livelihood was in the path of that same storm? That is exactly the situation Texas winemakers face each spring when extreme weather threatens the fresh growth of grape vines left helpless to the elements in the vineyard. If not a late frost, it is hail, severe winds, or a deluge of flooding rain that threaten our vines.
To make matters a bit more precarious than usual, the warmer than average January temperatures led to the growing season starting out much earlier than normal in vineyards across the state. Having bud break this early always puts growers on edge. The delicate buds are exposed to the risk of late spring frost that can decimate a crop. Additionally, spring storms rife with hail can be particularly devastating in young vineyards where vine trunks and cordons are developing. The earlier in the season when a hail event occurs, the more catastrophic it can be, as the more exposed newly developing buds are likely to be damaged.
Most varieties in the Hill Country are at bloom in their phenological calendar now, and factors like extreme rainfall and wind during this time can impact fruit set, and ultimately yield. In most grape variety blocks, we are in growth phases that range from pre-bloom to just post fruit-set. We are now in mid-season, and the fruit is better protected by larger leaf area acting as umbrellas of sorts.
In spite of the risks, the growing season is going well so far. Several storms have moved through our Hill Country vineyards recently causing limited hail damage to upper canopies and wind damage to canes. I've seen limited damage to Viognier clusters that are just beyond fruit set, so I expect no impact on yield. The storms last week fell in line with our normal "Easter Freeze" events that often plague Texas winegrape production. Several contracted vineyards in the Texas High Plains suffered severe loss of fruit for this season, but fortunately most have been spared.
Spring Planting and Vineyard Management
We continue to plant to vineyard acreage, and diligently maintain our existing vineyards. It’s a busy time in the vineyards.
We have completed spring planting of seventeen acres in our various contracted Hill Country vineyards with Viognier, Trebbiano, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, Dolcetto, Graciano, Mourvèdre, Syrah and Tannat to bolster our production levels for our growing markets. I'm particularly excited about the Graciano and Carignan plantings because these varieties will contribute important complexities to our lineup, especially in our Rioja-style red wines. The nice spring rainfall created a little bit of a dance of sorts regarding getting into the vineyards to plant.
In vineyards planted last year, we are training young vines, which includes developing trunks, cordons and spurs, with frequent vineyard passes during the vines "grand period of growth." During this approximately six-week period of rapid vine growth, they can grow more than an inch per day. As you can probably guess these tender new shoots are especially vulnerable to damage during this critical vine development stage. If damaged by weather, they may need to be retrained from the ground up: a devastating additional expense for vineyard owners.
In our older vineyards we are finishing up shoot removal along the cordons, opening up the canopies to more sunlight and allowing leaves to dry after spring rain. This also allows fungicide sprays to better penetrate the canopies and protect the fruit from the many fungal pressures we have here in the Hill Country during this critical time of the season.
With the early bud break, I predict we will have a slightly earlier harvest here in our Hill Country varieties, particularly Viognier. Despite the vines jumping out of their dormancy early this season, and the minor weather impacts on fruit crop, this 2017 vintage is looking better than ever!
Spring is here! We’re celebrating the First Day of Spring and the Vernal Equinox this week, which is a perfect opportunity for us to try different food and wine pairings. Spring is a perfect time to break out refreshing white and rosé wines. We have a few highly acclaimed recommendations for you with top wines from the Texas Wine Journal, and a medal winner from the TEXSOM International Wine Awards.
In its recently published review of white wine blends, the Texas Wine Journal evaluated 17 wines submitted by 12 producers in Texas. Seven wine professionals evaluated the wines in a blind tasting format using a specific scoring system. In a state as large as Texas, it’s easy to understand that several white grape varieties were used in the blends. What’s interesting is that The Top 5 all contain Roussanne and all Top 10 contain Rhone Varietals. We are thrilled to have both our 2015 Bridal Veil and 2015 Terre Blanc selected in the Top 10.
The TEXSOM International Wine Awards continues to grow in its importance, and attracted a record 3,581 entries from 29 countries and 19 U.S. States this year. All wines were blind-tasted and judged by 71 internationally renowned industry influencers from 5 countries. Texas wines fared well with several awards. Our 2015 Rosé de Dolcetto won a Bronze Medal in the prestigious competition.
Pairing Top Rated Wines with Grilled Food
Spring is a perfect time to grill food outside in the beautiful Texas weather. Wine is a fantastic accompaniment with grilled food as the naturally occurring sugar, acidity and alcohol in wine complement almost anything cooked with flames.
Here are my recommendations for Spring wine and grilled food pairings with our wines:
Wedding Oak Winery Bridal Veil 2015, Texas High Plains with Grilled Veggies
Whether grilled veggies like asparagus, mushrooms, zucchini, eggplant and corn are your main course or a side dish, picking the right wine can turn it into the star of the show. The fire-roasted char and caramelization of grilled vegetables beg for fuller-bodied whites with a hint of residual sugar.
Our 2015 Bridal Veil, made with a blend of Trebbiano and Vermentino has enticing tropical aromas of pineapple and mango that bring out the fragrance of charred vegetables. These vibrant fruity flavors carry through to the finish, with crisp acidity that makes it versatile with a wide selection of veggies.
Wedding Oak Winery Terre Blanc 2015, Texas Hill Country and Grilled Chicken
Grilled chicken always makes me think of carefree days and picnics by the lake. The hot coals bring out the best in the bird. The sweet caramelization and bitter char from the grill make it an excellent partner with buoyant white wines. Well textured Marsanne, aromatic peachy Viognier and tart, Trebbiano are all excellent choices to pair with grilled chicken.
Our Terre Blanc 2015 is an amazing wine with a fruitiness and lively tanginess that goes great with almost any style of grilled chicken. It’s made with estate -grown Marsanne, Viognier and Roussanne grapes. It has a rich texture, honeysuckle fragrance, scents of tea, with spiced apricot, ripe pear and white peach flavors and a bit of spice.
Wedding Oak Winery 2015 Rosé de Dolcetto, Texas High Plains, Diamante Doble Vineyard and Grilled Fish
Selecting the right wine to pair well with grilled seafood is probably easier than grilling the fish itself. A range of wines with high acid are great with grilled seafood. Think of the kind of wines that make you pucker a little bit like tart, minerally dry rosé. These types of wines go well with any type of seafood that you would normally squeeze a little lemon onto.
Our Rosé De Dolcetto 2015 is delicate enough that it won’t overpower lighter fish, but fruity and vibrant enough for fattier fish like trout or salmon. It was made using the Saignée method, separating out the juice just after crushing the fruit with slight amount of skin contact time, giving it a delightful watermelon color. This wine has fresh aromas and flavors of red berry fruit, including red currant, raspberry, cranberry and fresh picked strawberry with a touch of lemon zest. The mouth feel is bright in the front with a warm clove-like spiciness in the mid to end palate.
Spring doesn't last long in Texas so no matter what you choose to grill, take this opportunity to try a variety of award winning Wedding Oak wine pairings to discover which ones you like most.
We love seeing how our wines compare to other great wines in similar categories. We’re thrilled to be awarded 11 medals — including a Best of Class award — at the revered San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, the largest wine contest of solely American wines in the world.
Our wines made with 100 percent Texas-grown fruit were certainly put through their paces at the competition. A panel of sixty wine experts from the media, education, trade, and hospitality judged 7,100 submissions from small boutique wineries and large-scale suppliers from across the country.
An amazing thing happened this year: seven Texas wineries won Best of Class awards with their categories. That’s a huge accomplishment for one state to get that many awards, and second only to California. Best of Class Awards were also awarded to American wines recognized for extraordinary quality. The Texas wineries Best in Class award winners in 2017 are:
- Brennan Vineyards – Viognier 2015 (Viognier – $25.00 and above)
- Haak Vineyards & Winery – Tempranillo 2015 (Tempranillo – $0.00 – $24.99)
- Los Pinos Ranch Vineyards – Sweet Blush Colibri (Dry Rose/Blush – RS >.25)
- Messina Hof Winery – Merlot 2015 (Merlot – $15.00 – $18.99)
- Perissos Vineyards and Winery – Dolcetto 2015 (Dolcetto)
- Trilogy Cellars – Malbec 2015 (Malbec – $25.00 and above)
- Wedding Oak Winery – Sweet Alyssum 2015 (White Blends – $20.00 and above)
We’re honored to win a “Best in Class” award for our Sweet Alyssum, which was just introduced last Spring as part of our Wildseed Farms Series. This slightly sweet wine has been a crowd pleaser. It’s incredibly fragrant with pear, orange peel, and dried flowers scents that set a cheery tone. A blend of primarily Muscat Canelli and Riesling gives this wine fresh flavors of ripe pear, navel orange, honey dew melon and a floral finish that fills the mouth with abandon.
Want to taste what the San Francisco judges loved? Try it with spicy foods like Thai noodles, pasta arrabiata, and shrimp diablo.
If you want to try our other 2017 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition medal winners, here is a full list:
- Wedding Oak Winery Sweet Alyssum 2015— Best of Class
- Wedding Oak Winery Baby's Breath 2015— Silver
- Wedding Oak Winery Bridal Bliss 2015 — Silver
- Wedding Oak Winery Bridal Blush 2014—Silver
- Wedding Oak Winery Bridal Veil 2015— Silver
- Wedding Oak Winery Sangiovese 2014— Silver
- Wedding Oak Winery Tempranillo Reserva 2014 — Silver
- Wedding Oak Winery Rosé de Dolcetto 2015 — Bronze
- Wedding Oak Winery Tioja 2014— Bronze
- Wedding Oak Winery Viognier 2015 — Bronze
- Wedding Oak Winery Wine Cup 2015— Bronze
December is stuffed with a myriad of opportunities to open a bottle of wine with friends and family. The last thing you need is the extra stress of figuring out what kind of wine to buy for parties, festive meals and holiday get-togethers. We’ve got you covered with a few holiday wine shopping recommendations.
Holiday parties are fun, and buying the wine for them can be almost as enjoyable. To help take the stress out of planning the wine for your party we’ve put together these simple tips. Let’s just say we were inspired not only by the holidays, but also by winning several noteworthy awards at prominent competitions.
Get the Right Amount
Figuring out how much wine to buy is as simple as understanding how many servings are in a bottle, how much your guests will drink and the number of guests you expect.
Step 1: Serving size
One 750-milileter bottle = five 5-ounce servings One case (12 750-milileter bottles) = 60 servings
Step 2: Consumption average
Assume guests at a holiday party will consume up to two glasses of wine per hour.
Step 3: Simple equation
One hour at two glasses per person x 10 guests = four bottles of wine. Extrapolate from there.
Get the Right MixIf your party begins before 5 p.m., get a mix that includes 20 percent sparkling wine, 20 percent rosé, 30 percent white wine and 30 percent red wine. If your party starts after 5 p.m., your mix should include 30 percent sparkling wine, 10 percent rosé, 10 percent white wine and 50 percent red wine.
Get the Right WinesIt’s always nice to pick crowd-pleaser wines that are both versatile with food and recognizable. One way to ensure a wine is recognizable is by choosing wines that have won awards at prestigious competitions. We have you covered with recommendations of some of our wines that just won significant awards.
Award Winning Holiday Choices
Serving holiday dinner without a white wine is like starting the day without coffee. You just wouldn’t do it. Put our food-friendly Wedding Oak Winery Albariño on your shopping list. This versatile wine pairs well with a wide variety of holiday fare, with flavors of crushed pineapple, ruby red grapefruit and red apple, with a lingering finish of lemon zest. Wedding Oak Winery Albariño, Texas High Plains, 2015 just won a Gold Medal at the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo 2017 International Wine Competition, and it won a Silver medal and Texas Class Champion at the 2017 Houston Rodeo Uncorked! International Wine Competition. Grab a bottle or two for $27 https://weddingoakwinery.com/product/albario-2015.
Beyond being incredibly beautiful to serve on a holiday table, rosé is a fantastic light, refreshing style of wine tailor made for complex menus. Our Bridal Blush has the acidity and fruit to make it a great wine to drink with Christmas dinner. It’s as festive as the holidays with fresh apricots and cherry scents and juicy strawberry flavor. Impress your guests with telling them the Wedding Oak Winery Bridal Blush, Texas High Plains, 2014 Rosé won Double Gold, and was a Class Champion and a Texas Class Champion at the 2017 Houston Rodeo Uncorked! International Wine Competition. It is a bargain for $21. https://weddingoakwinery.com/product/bridal-blush-2014
That shimmering Christmas goose might make you crave white wine, but our 2014 Tempranillo Reserva will give it wings. Its invigorating acidity, sumptuous fruit and soft tannins make it the perfect bedfellow with not only fowl, but also just about anything. It is elegant and complex without being fussy. Our recently released Wedding Oak Winery Tempranillo Reserva, Texas Hill Country, 2014 recently won a Silver Medal at the 2017 Houston Rodeo Uncorked! International Wine Competition. This impressive wine is available to our club members only for $35 (join the club!). https://weddingoakwinery.com/product/tempranillo-reserva-2014
An alternate red wine for those of you who like a hint of sweetness is our newest release, our 2015 Texedo Red. Be one of the first people in Texas to taste this complex wine full of raspberry, strawberry, cranberry, blackberry, stewed plum and concentrated currants mingled with tobacco and vanilla. It has a velvety mouth feel with a hint of sweetness wrapped around a core of grippy tannins. It will be a perfect pair with Beef Wellington for the holidays and sells for $27. https://weddingoakwinery.com/product/texedo-red-2015
Wedding Oak Winery Award Winners
We are thrilled to receive several medals at both the recent at the 2017 Houston Rodeo Uncorked! International Wine Competition and the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo 2017 International Wine Competition. It is excellent validation that the wines we make for you are of the utmost quantity.
Including the wines above, Wedding Oak Winery has been recognized with three Class Champion awards, four Texas Class Champion awards, a Double Gold, two Golds, five Silvers, and several Bronze medals. We’re humbled by the recognition, and all the more committed to continuing to strive for excellence in our winemaking.
We wish you and yours the happiest holiday season filled with wine and cheer.
By Penny Adams, winemaker
I love Thanksgiving. It’s a fantastic day to enjoy the company of family and friends, reflect on the best parts of our lives and to break out a few bottles of delicious wine. It may seem daunting to pick the perfect wine for Thanksgiving dinner. A complex menu like those serve at traditional Thanksgiving begs for versatile wines. A sure fire key to success is selecting more than one type of wine to pair with different dishes and to please a plenitude of palates.
Whether you are cooking at home or attending dinner at a friend’s house, plan to have one bottle of each wine for every two people in attendance. As a guest, you might not need to supply all the wine, but you should always bring a bottle of something to augment the host’s supply. It’s a nice gift if it isn’t served.
I’m a traditionalist and wouldn’t consider serving anything but a domestic wine on a truly American holiday like Thanksgiving. And being a Texan, I can’t help but reach for Texas wines to pour for this important celebration of thankfulness. Here are a couple of my recommendations for your feast.
The Right White
In general, white wines tend to be food friendly with bright acidity that brings various flavors of food to life. They typically don’t overpower a meal either.
2014 Terre Blanc
French Rhone blends, like our Terre Blanc, are excellent for the Thanksgiving table. It’s fruitiness and lively tanginess makes it versatile to pair well with a wide variety of food on the Thanksgiving table. The 2014 vintage is a blend of Marsanne, Viognier and Roussanne grapes, with a dash of Trebbiano grapes grown in the Texas Hill Country. The dominance of Marsanne grapes gives it a rich texture, honeysuckle fragrance, with pear and white peach flavors and a bit of spice. The Roussanne brings scents of tea, and spiced apricot flavors. They are a great match for the stone fruit, ripe pear, and lemon zest flavors of the Viognier.
Together the grapes make a lovely wine with the weight, bright finish and complexity to go with anything Thanksgiving can throw at it.
Don’t Forget the Red Wine
The table is loaded with an incredible array of foods from tart cranberries and creamy green bean casserole to buttery mashed potatoes and savory stuffing to the luscious pièce de résistance, the turkey. You might not think of red wine when you gaze at that succulent turkey breast, but lighter style reds deserve a seat at your table. Wines with lush fruit, mild alcohol and soft tannins give it the versatility to pairs well with not only Turkey, but also with red meats and just about any dish.
Our salute to the Spanish Rioja region, Tioja is made predominantly with the Tempranillo grape from Mirasol Vineyard and Tio Pancho Vineyard, in the Texas Hill Country AVA. It’s an elegant, fruity red wine with fresh acidity that loves the rich fat of the turkey dark meat and the gravy. Unlike some of your relatives, these wines won’t dominate the conversation — or the food. Better yet, this earthy, spicy wine with sweet tobacco, blackberry, and plum flavors won’t get lost in the cacophony of flavors in the feast.
Like its sister Spanish wines, our Tioja has a backbone of dusty tannins. I recommend decanting this wine an hour before serving to really see it shine.
We’ve Made Ordering Wine for Thanksgiving Easy
To help take the hassle holiday planning, we’ve prepared a Thanksgiving and Holiday Special with both wines for only $48 with discounted shipping.
Get yours today: https://weddingoakwinery.com/product/thanksgiving-holiday-special
By Penny S. Adams, winemaker and viticulturist
Wedding Oak Winery welcomes the Wine Tourism Conference to Fredericksburg, Texas. We’re glad you are here!
The bucolic beauty, rolling landscape striped by rows of grapevines, and concentration of wineries has made the Texas Hill Country a tourist destination. In fact, Wine Enthusiast recently rated the Texas Hill Country as the fourth Best Wine Travel Destination in the world. Not bad!
Earlier this year, we opened a second location in a picturesque setting at Wildseed Farms, among 200 acres of lush wildflowers in Fredericksburg, Texas. The gorgeous facilities and vineyards are an excellent wine destination in the heart of Texas’ wine tourism on the Wine Road 290. Wildseed Farms has long been a popular tourist destination with its sprawling outdoor marketplace, gardens, gift shop and café. The concentration of tourists thirsty for a taste of quality Texas wine was certainly an important factor in our selection of Fredericksburg as a site for our second winery location.
But tourism isn’t the only reason we are expanding in the Hill Country. As both the viticulturist and winemaker, I see distinct advantages to investing in vineyard growth in the Texas Hill Country.
The majority of wine grapes in Texas are grown in the High Plains. The demand for these grapes by wineries around the state has been greater than the supply. Until recently, grape growers have been sitting in the proverbial “catbird seat,” controlling destination and pricing of their fruit. In fact, many new wineries have had to go out of state to secure grapes for wine production.
In the past few years, plantings of vineyards throughout Texas have increased to thousands of acres, providing plenty of fruit to all Texas wineries. This addition of much more vineyard acreage is creating a competitive marketplace is helping to stabilize the pricing of fruit and increase quality of fruit.
The Texas Hill Country is seeing growth in vineyard planting. It’s the home to many of the state’s wineries, making it the destination for most of the grapes grown in the High Plains. Now the Texas Hill Country is producing some of the finest quality fruit ever grown in Texas. Growers are choosing better sites and planting varieties that grow best, creating better wines than ever before. In the past, growers avoided planting white grape varieties which generally begin to grow earlier than red grape varieties, thereby making them more susceptible to frost damage. With the advent of frost abatement technologies, many larger growers in the Hill Country have been more apt to plant white grapes knowing they are able to mediate the temperatures enough to save a crop even in an occasional frost.
The Texas Hill Country is the largest viticultural area in the state and the second largest in the U.S., comprising 58 different soil associations distributed over approximately 9 million acres. It is a great location for growing wine grapes with its karst topography with thin layers of soil atop limestone or granite underpinnings. Water is generally available in sufficient quantity and quality to irrigate all vineyards in the Texas Hill Country. Winemakers understand these advantages and are now teasing out the intricacies of each terroir throughout the region.
At Wedding Oak Winery, we certainly see distinct advantages to have deep relationships with quality growers in the High Plains, as well as maintaining vineyards in the Hill Country. We are at the mercy of the weather to grow premium quality fruit each year. Diversifying our vineyard locations in different regions of the state reduces our susceptibility to being wiped out by winter freeze, late spring frost, and hail that inevitably have tremendous impact on the grape crop each year. While we may have a great crop set in one vineyard, another just a few miles down the road may have poor fruit set or no fruit set at all. Imagine the variance in weather we see with vineyards 350 miles apart.
In addition, there is a huge advantage to having Hill Country vineyards planted close to our production facility in San Saba, Texas. The availability of premium quality grapes planted closer to the winery creates a more streamlined production process. Grapes harvested locally suffer less stress than those that have to be transported long distances to the winery, thereby eliminating oxidation and other potential maladies in the finished wines.
To augment wine grape production from our estate vineyards in the Hill Country, we are well underway with vineyard plantings at our new location at Wildseed Farms in Fredericksburg. We currently have planted two acres of Alvarinho, six acres of Tempranillo, and three acres of Mourvèdre. We’re ready for more and have plenty of room to grow. The 2017 planting will include two acres of Viognier, two acres of Trebbiano, and three acres of Dolcetto grapes. The 2018 planting will include two acres of Vermentino, three acres of Montepulciano, and three acres of Aglianico, providing us with an abundance of grapes to continue to increase the amount of wine we make with 100 percent Texas grown grapes.
Because wine education is close to my heart, and important to Wildseed Farms owner, John Thomas, we are planting a unique one-acre Demonstration Vineyard. This distinctive site will feature four different clones of Syrah, grafted on two different rootstocks, planted on five different trellis systems that will be available for public education sessions.
We are excited by the opportunity to expand our presence in the Texas Hill Country with our new vineyards and winery facility at Wildseed Farms. We welcome wine tourism and strive to provide a unique experience. We’re also thrilled by the ability to have much larger plantings of grapes that do incredibly well in the Hill Country climate. We know the Texas Hill Country is only at the start of its true potential.
2016 Harvest report from Winemaker, Penny S. Adams
Heavy rain, hail, searing arid heat, followed by more sustained heavy rain. That sounds like a recipe for disaster for a farmer. That’s what we faced this year.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: growing grapes in Texas ain’t for the faint of heart. To be able to successfully harvest a high-quality crop takes vigilant vineyard management and a healthy dose of luck.
It is well worth the effort. The best wines start in the vineyard.
Early in the growing season, we experienced dry conditions which persisted from pruning through bud break. Fortunately, frequent heavy rainfall mid-season allowed for larger grape clusters during the cell division stage. In our Hill Country vineyards, particularly at our estate High Valley Vineyard, I saw some of the largest cluster sizes ever in varieties like Roussanne and Mourvèdre. Massive and gorgeous.
The rain was great for larger clusters, but it also had its downside. That frequent rainfall throughout April and May wreaked havoc on our ability to get equipment into vineyards to actively protect each vineyard block. Each grape variety differs in their susceptibility to the various fungal pathogens most frequently seen in the Texas Hill Country, like Black Rot, Downy Mildew, and Powdery Mildew. The period of greatest susceptibility to these diseases falls between bloom and bunch closure, for all leaves, shoots and berries.
Then came the hail. Many vineyards throughout Texas were hammered with hail in late April, reducing crop levels from 10 percent up to 30 percent. The degree of damage is dependent upon the vines age, specific stage of development in the season, along with size and duration of the hail. Young vines, during trunk and cordon development, have little canopy to protect vine tissue and are extremely vulnerable to hail damage. Often growers don’t recognize losses until harvest when they discover reduced yields. Our Mirasol Vineyard in Lampasas County was the hardest hit by hail damage with reduction of up to 10 percent of the crop in both Grenache and Tempranillo grapes. Fortunately, our High Valley Vineyard avoided significant hail damage, with Viognier even yielding higher than expected.
We had a little lull in the excitement mid-season during June and July with dry of conditions throughout the vineyards in the Hill Country. That didn’t last.
Heavy rains returned in August just before harvest. Light rains can create a washing of sugars and ultimately flavor profiles that will impact wine quality. Heavy rainfall events late in the ripening cycle can cause a rapid uptake of water and actually split berries open, causing fungal pathogens including bunch rots to set into clusters.
For the most part these late season rains didn’t create problems with ripening or fruit quality, with the exception late ripening varieties like Mourvèdre, Cinsault and Roussanne, which experienced slightly lower sugars at harvest. For the most part, fruit quality has been high in our Hill Country vineyards. Highlights this year include our beautiful estate grown Viognier, that is happily fermenting away, yielding beautiful soft tropical aromas of guava and mango.
We’ve harvested a beautiful first crop of Sangiovese and Touriga Nacional from the Phillips Vineyard in the High Plains, with intense, deeply-colored fruit and phenomenal lush cherry pie aromas. It will be interesting to compare this vibrant, young Sangiovese from the High Plains with our perennial contract of very old Hill Country Sangiovese from Anchor Oaks Vineyard, which also came in with exceptional quality. That will be a treat to taste the differences when we release both next year after barrel aging.
Unfortunately, mid- to late-season reds in the High Plains were recently hit with continuous rainfall over five days. That rain brought on bunch rot the likes of which have not been seen in that part of the state in a very long time. It’s devastating for growers that are hanging many tons of fruit, with low sugars that wineries are reticent to accept. I predict that 2016 vintage reds will be in very short supply in the market because of it.
Our Dolcetto from Diamante Doble Vineyard in Tokio, TX came in with very good quality despite the impacts from rain. We performed a delestage fermentation technique with it to create our Rosé. The initial run created a juice with an interesting watermelon and mint aroma. We can’t wait to see how it develops.
While it’s been quite a challenging growing season in Texas, we have had an outstanding harvest in both the Texas Hill Country and High Plains vineyards. All indications are we will have an exceptional 2016 vintage. What a relief.
I’ll leave you with this: the reason we call the harvest season “crush” is because we crush fresh grapes to make wine. However, over my many years of winemaking I’ve come to realize the name is fitting for another reason. Harvest also crushes our minds, spirits, and bodies! Thankfully we’ll have delicious wine to help us rejuvenate to do it all over again next year.
A mid-season view of the 2016 crop from our viticulturalist and winemaker, Penny S. Adams
Growing wine grapes in Texas is never easy. This growing season is no exception.
This vintage began much like 2015, with abundant rainfall. Just like last year, the heavy rains forced us to employ extensive vineyard management practices to keep diseases out of our vineyards. Excessive moisture often leads to mold and mildew problems in the vines.
Beyond the potential for disease, early season rains bring other vineyard management challenges. The ample rain helped to push a more even bud break across each grape varietal, which then creates more even fruit ripening within clusters and across clusters in a vine and varietal block. These phenomena are more problematic in some varieties, such as Grenache and Marsanne that tend to have a very wide window of bloom, fruit-set, and ultimately ripening. That might sound like a good thing, but the surplus grape clusters on the vines require additional hand work to drop fruit to concentrate nutrients in fewer clusters.
Adequate rainfall during the cell division stage of development results in larger cluster sizes. That is exactly what happened this year. I’m seeing larger than normal cluster sizes across many varieties, especially in Roussanne in our High Valley Vineyard.
Rainfall ceased throughout the hill country with perfect timing because most varieties are now in bunch closure phase. From now through ripening and harvest it's more difficult to get spray penetration through large leaf canopies and wrapped around clusters and berries throughout for protection. The good news is that drier conditions mean less need for spraying.
The impact of early season hail that hit the hill country is now showing up as slightly damaged clusters. This damage is particularly evident as we begin the cell enlargement stage. Our eastern-most vineyard, Mirasol Vineyard in Lampasas County, was hit the hardest with hail in early April. However the effect of the early damage was partially mitigated as steady rainfall pushed a new flush of growth capable of ripening in time to slightly improve our expected yield here.
The good news is that frequent rainfall in early season precluded any need for irrigation practices, and in some cases vines are still soaking up that nice moisture. However, growth is slowing in blocks with more shallow soils reverting the vines energy into ripening the crop load.
Balance of the vine fruit to canopy is excellent throughout most varieties as we move into the grape ripening phase known as veraison. This time of year is critical as I perform crop estimates per each vineyard block to help determine final yields expected for this vintage.
Veraison has begun in many blocks signifying the beginning of the ripening process. Early ripening red varieties like Tempranillo are beginning to show blushing color while white varieties like Viognier are beginning to soften.
If it’s not the weather we have to contend with, it’s the pests. With veraison well under way we began our annual battle with the birds by protecting the vines with netting this week, starting with white variety blocks. Almost all Hill Country vineyards are netted to protect the grape crop from damage, or even total destruction, from Mockingbirds, Cardinals, and other grape-loving bird species.
All in all, it looks like we are in for a strong 2016 vintage. My early estimates indicate a slightly lower overall yield than the bumper crop of our 2015 harvest, but higher quality fruit is expected in most variety blocks as rain events taper off.
SAN SABA, Texas, June 8, 2016 – Wedding Oak Winery was recognized with 12 medals — including a Double Gold and Best in Varietal award — at the prestigious 33nd annual TWGGA Lone Star International Wine Competition held June 6-7, 2016 at the Grapevine Convention Center. In its four-year history, the Texas winery has been consistently award for outstanding wines in national and international competitions, including the one double gold, two gold, three silver and six bronze medals in this competition.
The Lone Star International Wine Competition, hosted by the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association, is the oldest wine competition in Texas. A panel of 25 wine experts, sommeliers, restauranteurs, and media, other from Texas, California, and New Mexico judged wines from around the world in blind tasting format in more than 30 categories. Almost 600 wines were submitted to the 2016 competition and 377 medals were awarded.
The competition selected the Wedding Oak Winery 2015 High Valley Viognier as a “Best in Varietal” wine, judged to be superior among all Gold medal winners in its category. Made with grapes grown in our High Valley estate vineyard, this wine has fresh green apple, peach, and honeysuckle aromas. It is a quintessential Viognier with a velvety texture layered with ripe peach, lemon custard, honey comb and almond flavors, with a bright citrus finish. The velvety texture and zippy acidity let it pair well with shrimp or pasta with creamy alfredo sauce.
The Wedding Oak Winery 2014 Sangiovese was awarded a Double Gold medal, the highest honor in its international category. Made with grapes sourced from Anchor Oaks Vineyard near Blanco, Texas, one of the oldest vinifera vineyards in the Texas Hill Country, this wine was aged in neutral French oak barrels for 26 months. It is a blend of 75 percent Sangiovese, 24 percent Tannat, and 1 percent Petit Verdot with big aromas and flavors of cherry, hints of chocolate, and black tea splashed with cinnamon. It is an excellent wine with grilled pork, tomato based pasta sauces, and charcuterie.
“We are thrilled that our wines made exclusively with Texas-grown fruit have received such high recognition from the Lone Star International Wine Competition,” said Mike McHenry, partner, Wedding Oak Winery. “Texas wine drinkers have come to expect only the highest quality wines to be made in this state. We are proud that our winemaking team, led by Penny Adams, continue to produce elegant wines of distinction that appeal to the sophisticated palates or Texas wine drinkers.”
2016 Lone Star International Wine Competition Awards:
- Wedding Oak Winery 2014 Sangiovese — Double Gold, International
- Wedding Oak Winery 2015 Viognier — Gold, BEST IN VARIETAL
- Wedding Oak Winery 2015 Rose' de Dolcetto — Gold, International
- Wedding Oak Winery 2014 Sangiovese — Silver, Texas
- Wedding Oak Winery 2015 Rose' de Dolcetto — Silver, Texas
- Wedding Oak Winery 2015 Bridal Veil — Silver, Texas
- Wedding Oak Winery 2015 Bridal Bliss — Bronze, Texas
- Wedding Oak Winery 2015 Albariño — Bronze, International
- Wedding Oak Winery 2015 Albariño — Bronze, Texas
- Wedding Oak Winery 2015 Viognier — Bronze, Texas
- Wedding Oak Winery 2014 Terre Blanc — Bronze, Texas
- Wedding Oak Winery 2015 Tre Vi — Bronze, International