From the Vineyard: The Impact of Scorching Heat on the 2018 Harvest

10th Aug 2018 @ 13:20 by matt@penandtellus.com


September 2018

By Penny S. Adams, winemaker and viticulturist for Wedding Oak Winery

It’s hot enough to fry an egg on the bed of a pickup truck. We’ve had another summer of record heat in Texas. What does this heat mean for our 2018 harvest at Wedding Oak Winery?

This year has certainly not been an ordinary vintage in the Texas Hill Country. We started our year with record low single digit temperatures for extended periods that had us worried about winter hardiness, and now the excessively high temperatures combined with drought conditions are creating challenges in the vineyard and cellar. Excessive heat is not in itself a bad thing in regions like Texas, Paso Robles and other regions where it is the normal. However, heat can cause a stop in photosynthesis, sunburn on the grapes, and when combined with drought conditions fruit shrivel is inevitable. That’s what we are facing.

Vineyard sites, like our Estate High Valley Vineyard, that are perched high atop the limestone hills are protected from late spring frost damage. Yet, these same sites have shallow soils which make them more susceptible to drought issues, especially when combined with scorching heat. The 30+ days of 100+ degree temperatures and drought conditions have certainly shriveled the grapes which reduces yields.

Heat and low humidity contribute to excessively high evapotranspiration rates. We combat that with aggressive irrigation practices. We also implement a thoughtful strategy to keep the leaf canopy functioning and the crop hydrated until the fruit achieves true physiological ripeness. That’s not always an easy thing to do. Most grape varieties in the vineyards we contract have experienced heat stress resulting in smaller berry sizes and berry shrivel.

Photosynthesis slows or can even cease in the high temperatures we are experiencing this year. The degree of the impact for each grape varietal is dependent on the phenological stage of development the grapes were in when the intense heat disrupted photosynthesis. Roussanne and Mourvèdre, both late varieties for us, struggled due to the skins not being ripe before the heat set in. Good early season canopy management practices limited sunburn damage in our managed vineyards. However, growers with younger blocks, less leaf canopy and more exposed fruit have been impacted. Tempranillo, Syrah and Albariño with more shaded canopies performed better than more open canopy varieties like Viognier and Mourvèdre.

There is also good news. We have excellent grape quality in 2018.

While grape growers are frustrated with the reduced yields this year from the need to hold fruit until fruit is truly ripe, our winemaking team is happy with the more concentrated flavors and aromas which will define the 2018 vintage in the years to come. In our Estate Vineyard the Syrah Block shrivel is an inherent annual characteristic that develops a concentrated sugar and desirable deep brooding fruit quality to the fruit and finished wines.

We have completed the harvest of our Hill Country white grape varieties. Our Albariño from our Wildseed Farms Vineyard, harvested very early this year on July 23, was very high quality and is looking beautiful in the cellar. We finished the white grape harvest by hand picking the Roussanne at our Estate High Valley Vineyard earlier this week. Despite the heat we were able to hold the crop with the protected canopy until ripe. It is a beautiful crop with intense aromatics.

The red grape varieties from our Estate Syrah and Grenache came into the cellar with exceptional quality; high brix and good varietal character. Our first crop of Tempranillo at Wildseed Farms Vineyard was harvested this week with high yields and good chemistry. It is looking nice in the cellar. Another standout for us this year is Negro Amaro from Hye Top Vineyard, that reached its true ripeness, holding its acid until harvest, producing a rich, rustic and highly tannic wine. We’re awaiting harvest of Aglianico and Carignane in the next several weeks.

The 2018 vintage in the Texas Hill Country is light in yield, meaning less wine in the 2018 vintage. The good news is the wines will have highly concentrated flavors. Most importantly, grape varietal response to the heat and drought will help our region better define varieties best suited to our unique growing conditions in the Texas Hill Country. It has been a great growing season.



From the Vineyard: Spring Growth is a Crystal Ball to the Fall Harvest

19th Apr 2018 @ 08:37 by matt@penandtellus.com


By Penny S. Adams, winemaker and viticulturist for Wedding Oak Winery

If I had a crystal ball, I’d use it to check the weather every day. Instead, like all grape growers in Texas during later winter and early spring, I obsessively check the weather forecasts from all the usual, and less certain, sources.

Even though I don’t have a crystal ball to show me what Mother Nature has instore, the effects of the weather on the grapevines during the winter and spring give us a little bit of a glimpse into what we can expect from the vineyards at harvest.

For the 2018 vintage, my assessment is so far, so good.

Fortunately, winter in the Hill Country brought us little heartbreak this year. Temperatures remained consistently chilly, rather than swinging from one extreme to another. This allowed the grapes to stay dormant until a normal bud break schedule. Our Viognier was first to emerge from dormancy, while the Mourvèdre peeked out last, true to form. Despite the relatively calm winter, a few of our weaker vines experienced cordon (aka permanent wood) loss because temperatures plummeted to the single digits for a few days. However, we had little total vine loss this season.

The advent of spring brings its own unique stresses in the vineyard. As the weather warms to about 55 degrees Fahrenheit consistently, the vines emerge from slumber and use carbohydrate stores to synthesize new shoots laden with potential fruit clusters. A sudden cold snap can kill these shoots — even the whole vine — causing massive fruit loss. What’s more, Texan storms, usually accompanied by strong winds, can result in shoot breakage and irregular cluster pollination. While a little rain is welcome, particularly because we need to irrigate to replace depleted moisture levels soil levels, too much water causes grape growth to get out of hand. That is something we don’t want.

The period after bud break is referred to as the "Grand Period of Growth," a time when many factors come together to determine size of clusters, fruit quality, and wine quality potential. It may seem counterintuitive, however limiting excessive shoot and leaf growth is necessary during the growing season. Pruning shoots and leaves allows the sugars created by the plant to localize mostly in the fruit. It also helps the plant to focus on ripening the berries rather than diverting energy to overall growth. Riper grapes=more sugars=more alcohol, which helps enhances the expression of desirable flavor and aroma compounds. Picking at the right acidity and sugar levels helps us build an exquisite flavor profile. A win for a winemaker.

Some grape varieties, like our Viognier, are naturally predisposed to produce too many buds, and thereby more fruit than the variety can fully ripen. Consequently, we must work harder to remove excessive shoots to achieve a highly-coveted, perfect “fruit-to-leaf ratio” that will ultimately result in superior grape quality.

While surveying newer vineyards planted in 2016, I happily sense the potential for fairly high yields and wine quality. With these vines, there is sufficient light penetration into the vine canopy to ripen this first crop to perfection. In their youth, we place specific importance in training these new vines, promoting the formation of trunks, cordons and spurs so that they can withstand Texas weather conditions.

In the older vineyards, we are removing unwanted shoots and spacing them to encourage sufficient airflow, which helps prevent fungal infections. Two rainy years have resulted in more insect vectors of Pierce's Disease, a devastating sharpshooter-spread disease that is prominent in the southern U.S.

In addition to managing our existing vineyards, we're also working with growers to plant additional acreage.

We plan up to two years in advance for this planting time, ordering vines, preparing the site and carefully planting the vines before the arrival of our Texas heat. At Wildseed Farms, we are planting another 8 acres of Vermentino, Montepulciano, and Aglianico, all central/southern Italian grape varieties adept at withstanding Texas heat. At Fire Oak Vineyard, we are planting 8 acres of Mourvèdre, Roussanne, Grenache, and Sangiovese; most of these are native Rhone varieties except for the latter, an indigenous Tuscan grape.

So far in this growing season, the conditions in our vineyards is right where we want it to be. My prognosis is that we will have a great crop at harvest. We are excited about the potential of the 2018 vintage and can’t wait to bring you more great Texas wine.



Wedding Oak Winery Recognized for Outstanding Wine at TEXSOM International Wine Awards

13th Mar 2018 @ 17:30 by matt@penandtellus.com


Wedding Oak Winery won four medals at the 2018 TEXSOM International Wine Awards (IWA) which took place on February 12-14, 2018 at the Grapevine Convention Center, Grapevine, Texas. Wedding Oak Winery received two silver medals for its 2016 Marsanne and 2015 Tempranillo Reserva, as we as Bronze medals for it 2015 Tioja and Sangiovese 2015. All Wedding Oak wines submitted to the competition are made using 100 percent Texas grown grapes.

In its first bottling, the single vineyard, single variety 2016 Marsanne is gaining high praise. In addition to this Silver Medal at TEXSOM IWA, the Rhone-style wine, made with grapes grown in the estate High Valley Vineyard in San Saba County, was recently recognized with a Double Gold, Class Champion and Texas Class Champion at the 2018 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo International Wine Competition. It also won awards at the 2017 San Francisco International Wine Competition and the 2017 Lone Star International Wine Competition earlier this year. The versatile and food-friendly Marsanne has lively Meyer lemon and roasted almonds flavors, rich, mineral texture and creamy vanilla finish.

The Wedding Oak Winery 2015 Tempranillo Reserva is made with grapes were grown at Mirasol Vineyard in Lampasas County, managed by viticulturist and winemaker Penny Adams. It is a Rioja style wine, made with a blend of 81 percent Tempranillo, 18 percent Garnacha, and a touch of Viognier, that is barrel aged in neutral French oak for 14 months. A rich and aromatic wine, the Tempranillo Reserva has full cherry, cedar and tobacco box, scents, tart black cherry flavors, vibrant acidity, soft tannins and a lingering finish. This wine pairs incredibly well with Texas BBQ.

“TEXSOM IWA has emerged as one of the most influential wine competitions in the world,” says Penny Adams, winemaker. “Any medal received at TEXSOM IWA is a high accomplishment. We’re incredibly honored to have our wines recognized among some of the best wine made in the world. This is a resounding confirmation that wine made in Texas is made with the utmost quality.”

The TEXSOM International Wine Awards is the preeminent wine competition in the United States. The Journal of Wine Economics recently recognized TEXSOM IWA as the most selective wine competition in the U.S. and praised it for the competition’s ability to differentiate quality. The recognition was based on the high level of its judges, their broad experience and global perspective, which leads to a more selective, and more meaningful, medal distribution. The 2018 TEXSOM IWA evaluated more than 3,600 entries in a blind tasting conducted by a panel of 64 judges that included industry leaders, Master Sommeliers and Masters of Wine judges.

Our 2018 TEXSOM International Wine Award Winning Wines

  • Wedding Oak Winery Marsanne 2016, High Valley Estate Vineyards, Texas Hill Country — Silver
  • Wedding Oak Winery, Tempranillo Reserva 2015, Mirasol Vineyards, Texas Hill Country — Silver
  • Wedding Oak Winery, Tioja 2015, Mirasol Vineyards, Texas Hill Country — Bronze
  • Wedding Oak Winery, Sangiovese 2015, Texas Hill Country — Bronze

    Wedding Oak Winery Hires Seth Urbanek as Assistant Winemaker

    10th Jan 2018 @ 09:21 by matt@penandtellus.com


    We have hired Seth Urbanek as assistant winemaker. Seth, a Texas native, is responsible for cellar management and assisting with all aspects of production working with head winemaker and viticulturist, Penny Adams, and her winemaking team.

    Seth brings extensive research skills and winemaking talent to Wedding Oak Winery. He has experience in making both new world and old world wines, with stints at Sheldrake Point Winery, Ovid, NY, MollyDooker Winery in McLaren Vale, South Australia, and Champagne Bollinger, Aÿ, France.

    “I was bitten by the wine bug at an early age,” says Seth Seth. “After I graduated from Texas A&M with a degree in International Relations, I spent a semester in France. While there, I fell in love with wine and knew I wanted to work in the wine industry. I temporarily put my winemaking aspirations on hold while serving a term in the U.S. Army.”

    Seth was commissioned as second lieutenant, serving two tours in Afghanistan, and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal in recognition of his service contributions to the U.S. Army. He concluded his service as a Captain at Fort Drum, NY.

    During his time at Fort Drum, he began to engage with several of the up and coming producers in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. After his tenure in the service, he was able to parlay those relationships into a job as part of the vineyard management team at Sheldrake Point Winery.

    That experience led to a thirst for deeper understanding of the science behind wine. Seth pursued a Master of Science degree in Food Science and Technology, with concentration in Enology, at Cornell University. In that program he conducted research that explores advances in yeast metabolism during fermentation.

    He pursued additional hands-on winemaking experience by taking a semester off from Cornell to work at MollyDooker Winery in South Australia as a laboratory technician and cellar hand. Most recently, Seth worked a three-month internship through the champagne harvest at Champagne Bollinger in France. A perk to the job was to take advantage of this expert palate to evaluate wines from a portion of the 3,500 barrels that make up the 2017 vintage.

    “As the winery continues to grow and mature, we have made important hires to strengthen our team in essential areas of the business,” says Mike McHenry, managing partner. “Hiring Seth to support Penny is part of our strategic plan to continue to produce high-quality wines with Texas grown grapes. We look forward to integrating his talents into the team.”

    Seth says, “I had not considered my home state of Texas as part of my winemaking career, but I was amazed at the quality of Texas wines when I was exposed to them at an industry conference. After a short conversation with Penny Adams, the winemaker at Wedding Oak Winery, I knew that we would be able to work together to produce quality wines from Texas fruit. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to work with Wedding Oak Winery to make stellar wines here in the Lone Star State.”

    “We’re thrilled to have Seth on the Wedding Oak winemaking team,” says Penny Adams. “We both see winemaking as a two-fold approach of art and science. Seth’s scientific background is a great complement to my own academically influenced style.”

    Seth is a Houston native, a graduate of St. Thomas Episcopal High School and Texas A&M University. He holds a certified proficiency in French language from Centre Universitaire d’Etudes Francaises, Grenoble, France, and a Master of Science degree in Enology at Cornell University.



    Wedding Oak Winery Wins 3 Class Champion Awards at the 2018 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo International Wine Competition

    20th Nov 2017 @ 14:33 by matt@penandtellus.com


    Wedding Oak Winery was recognized with three Class Champion, and two Double Gold medals, among nine wines that won medals at the 15th annual Rodeo Uncorked! International Wine Competition, held Nov. 11 – 12, 2017, at NRG Center in Houston, Texas. Wedding Oak Winery received Class Champion, Class Champion and Double Gold medals for its 2016 Marsanne and 2015 Tioja and a Class Champion, Texas Class Champion, and Silver medal for its 2016 Wedding Oak Winery Bridal Veil white blend. All Wedding Oak wines submitted to the competition are made using 100 percent Texas grown grapes.

    The 2016 Marsanne is the first bottling of a single vineyard, single variety Marsanne, and it is winning strong accolades. The Rhone-style wine, made with grapes grown in the estate High Valley Vineyard in San Saba County, also won awards at the 2017 San Francisco International Wine Competition and the 2017 Lone Star International Wine Competition earlier this year. It is a fantastic wine to serve for Thanksgiving with roast turkey and the traditional sides. The Marsanne has spicy aromatics, lively Meyer lemon and roasted almonds flavors, rich, mineral texture and creamy vanilla finish that make it a food-friendly wine. It is a complex white wine, worthy of aging.

    Wedding Oak Winery’s flagship red wine, Tioja, is a salute to the Spanish Rioja region, made predominantly with the Tempranillo grape from Mirasol Vineyard and Tio Pancho Vineyard, in the Texas Hill Country AVA. Tioja is wonderful example of Hill Country terroir. It is an elegant, fruity red wine with bright fragrances of fresh red berries, plums and spicy white pepper, almost tea-like. It has tart cherry flavors, hints of tomato, a bit of spiciness, and firm tannins. Tioja is a wonderful wine for Thanksgiving, with fresh acidity that loves the rich fat of the turkey dark meat and the gravy.

    “These awards are a powerful recognition that Texas wines are competitive with wines from around the world,” says Penny Adams, winemaker. “While Texas wines make up a small percentage of the overall wines submitted for the competition, there were many among the medal winners. We are incredibly proud to have our wines recognized as Class Champions, Texas Class Champions, and Double Gold medal winners”

    Rodeo Uncorked! International Wine Competition is one of the largest international wine competitions in the United States. The 2018 International Wine Competition evaluated a record number of wine entries — 3,188 wines — from 18 different countries. Texas wineries entered 420 wines in the competition. The submissions were judged in a double-blind procedure by local and national wine experts with extensive credentials. The results are audited on site by PricewaterhouseCoopers, ensuring the highest integrity.

    2018 Houston Rodeo Uncorked! International Wine Competition

    • Wedding Oak Winery Marsanne 2016, Texas Hill Country — Double Gold, Class Champion and Texas Class Champion
    • Wedding Oak Winery Tioja 2015, Texas Hill Country — Double Gold, Class Champion and Texas Class Champion
    • Wedding Oak Winery Bridal Veil 2016, Texas High Plains — Silver, Class Champion and Texas Class Champion
    • Wedding Oak Winery Roussanne 2016, Texas High Plains — Silver
    • Wedding Oak Winery Sangiovese 2015, Texas Hill Country — Silver
    • Wedding Oak Winery Harmony Ridge 2015, Texas Hill Country —Bronze
    • Wedding Oak Winery Regency Bridge 2015, Texas Hill Country — Bronze
    • Wedding Oak Winery Terre Blanc 2015, Texas Hill Country — Bronze
    • Wedding Oak Winery Viognier, Texas Hill Country, 2016 — Bronze


    Visit Texas Hill Country Wineries for an Ideal Autumn Weekend Getaway During Texas Wine Month

    25th Sep 2017 @ 09:36 by matt@penandtellus.com


    Celebrate Texas Wine Month at Wedding Oak Winery Grape Stomp in Fredericksburg

    Recently lifestyle publication, VinePair, ranked the Texas Hill Country as one of The 7 Best Wine Regions in America for Seeing Fall Colors. For many Texans, this isn’t particularly surprising. We know the Hill Country is absolutely beautiful any time of year, and particularly in Autumn. In addition, October is Texas Wine Month, making it an ideal time to plan a weekend getaway in the Texas Hill Country.

    A perfect way to take in the view is with a lazy, ambling drive through the countryside. There are many scenic drives through the Texas Hill Country that offer gorgeous views of the toasted golden landscape with sprinkles of fall colors. We’re partial to that beautiful stretch of Highway 16 between Fredericksburg and San Saba, the home of our winery. Another gorgeous drive is the Willow City Loop that takes in a roll down the gorgeous Farm Road 1323, which can deposit you just north of Fredericksburg on HWY 16.

    Wedding Oak Winery Grape Stomp in Fredericksburg

    Once you’re in Fredericksburg, there is no better place to visit in the Fall than Wildseed Farms. It is a one-stop shopping destination for picking out your fall flowers, pumpkins and other seasonal decorations. All of that autumn beauty will work up a mighty thirst. Fortunately, Wedding Oak Winery has a tasting room conveniently located on site. After all, it is impossible to visit wine country without visiting a winery.

    To celebrate Texas Wine Month, we will hold our Grape Stomp & Harvest Celebration at Wedding Oak Winery at the Wildseed Farms on Sunday, October 1, 2017. Enjoy the day with 100% Texas wine tasting, grape stomping, and saving your stomp memories with an imprint of your feet or hands on a commemorative T-Shirt, and live music.

    Our Wedding Oak Winery tasting room in Fredericksburg is a relaxing destination in the heart of Texas’ wine tourism on the Wine Road 290. The 4,570 square-foot facility includes a tasting room, as well as a covered patio with a club members’ lounge adjacent to a fireplace and water feature. Enjoy tastings at the bar or in the patio seating area. We offer more than 20 wines by the glass or by the bottle to enjoy at the winery or while strolling the Wildseed Farms property taking views of the vineyards.

    The slightly cooler fall weather sets a perfect mood for sipping wine. A couple of our favorite Autumn food and wine pairings include:

    Pumpkin Risotto paired with 2015 Terre Blanc White Rhone-style blends, such as our Terre Blanc, are a terrific accompaniment to the savory pumpkin dish. The stone fruit flavors of peach and nectarine, along with the hint of almond from the Roussanne, Marsanne and Viognier complement your pumpkin dishes beautifully.

    Venison Sausage and Roasted Potatoes paired with 2014 Tempranillo Reserva This is hearty cool-weather meal. The rustic flavors and hint of saltiness are matched well with the bright cherry flavors and dusty leather in our Tempranillo Reserva. Tempranillo is the ultimate autumn wine. It is perfect by the fire.

    Make Wedding Oak Winery part of your Texas Hill Country Autumn getaway weekend: 100 Legacy Drive, Fredericksburg, TX, 78624.



    Wedding Oak Winery Won Six Medals at the 37th Annual San Francisco International Wine Competition

    8th Aug 2017 @ 05:38 by matt@penandtellus.com


    Our wines continue to impress on the global stage, with six medals won at the 2017 San Francisco International Wine Competition. The judging panel evaluated our wines against thousands of others based on varietal and vintage, and our wines were deemed finely crafted wine, well above average, or well-crafted wines that deserves recognition.

    Winning any award is a thrill, and a great indication to our customers that Wedding Oak Winery produces world-class wines. However, we are particularly thrilled to be recognized at the San Francisco International Wine Competition. It is easily one of the most prestigious, and the largest international wine competitions in the United States. More than 4,300 wines from more than 30 countries around the world were evaluated by a panel of 58 judges at the 37th San Francisco International Wine Competition. These distinguished and discerning judges really put the wine through its paces. Medal winners are chosen through a rigorous judging process held over four days of precise blind tastings.

    We are particularly thrilled that our three single-variety, Texas-grown Rhone style white wines each won a silver medal: our Viognier, Roussanne and Marsanne.

    One of our flagship wines, the 2016 High Valley Estate Viognier is made with estate-grown grapes grown high atop a hill in in San Saba county where they reach optimum ripeness. They are hand harvested in early morning, arriving at the winery early and cool where they are whole-berry pressed. The juice goes through a long, slow fermentation resulting in an elegant, lean-style wine with white flower, tropical fruit and stone fruit aromas. This wine has lovely honeyed melon, apple, nectarine and pear flavors with a crisp Meyer lemon lingering finish. It’s an incredibly food-friendly wine that goes really well with roasted chicken, and grilled vegetables.

    We love working with the Roussanne grape, and our 2016 harvest was stellar. It was so good, that we made our first single variety Roussanne 2016 with grapes harvested from the Narra Vineyard in the Texas High Plains. This wine has a beautiful golden straw color, powerful scents of fresh flowers, peaches, spice tea, roasted nuts and pepper. The sumptuous wine has a velvety mouthfeel with honeyed pear and white apple flavors with lively acidity that let it pair incredibly well with seafood, grilled pork, and dishes with savory sauces. This wine recently won a gold medal at the prestigious 34th annual Lone Star International Wine Competition.

    Another Rhone variety that we made in a single vineyard, single variety wine is Marsanne, which is grown atop a mesa overlooking Cherokee Creek with deep limestone and clay soils in our estate High Valley Vineyard in San Saba County. Our first bottling, the 2016 Marsanne, is as pleasingly bright with a rich, mineral texture that will become more complex with time. It’s generous with spicy aromatics, and packed with zesty Meyer lemon and roasted almonds flavors, with a creamy vanilla finish. It’s a great wine to serve with rich seafood dishes, and grilled chicken or pork tenderloin.

    We hope you will try all of our award winning wines.

    2017 San Francisco International Wine Competition Awards

    • Wedding Oak Winery Marsanne Estate Texas Hill Country $29 — Silver
    • Wedding Oak Winery 2016 Viognier Estate Texas Hill Country $28 — Silver
    • Wedding Oak Winery 2016 Roussanne Texas High Plains $28— Silver
    • Wedding Oak Winery 2015 Sangiovese Texas Hill Country $29 — Bronze
    • Wedding Oak Winery 2015 Red Blend Tioja Texas Hill Country $29 — Bronze
    • Wedding Oak Winery 2016 Dolcetto Rosé Texas High Plains $24 — Bronze


    2017 Texas Harvest on Target for High Quality and Quantity

    19th Jul 2017 @ 11:01 by matt@penandtellus.com


    By Penny S. Adams, winemaker and viticulturist for Wedding Oak Winery

    We are busy in the vineyards harvesting wine grapes for what looks like another stellar vintage in the Texas wine country. This is the time of year when we see all of our hard work pay off with gorgeous clusters of grapes coming to ripeness, and making their way into the winery.

    It has been a fairly ideal growing season. We started out the season with bud break about 10 to14 days earlier than normal in most grape varieties. Fortunately, we did not experience late spring frost events to destroy the young growth, even though it was close on several mornings around 36 degrees. We didn’t sustain lasting damage from limited early season light hail. The hail size, duration of the storm and vine phenology all determine damage.

    Early in the season, just after fruit set, we had nice rainfall that helped determined the size of the grape clusters during this cell division stage. I'm seeing unusually large size clusters in varieties like Roussanne, Viognier and Mourvèdre. On the other hand, rainfall and wind conditions during fruit set of our Grenache vines have yielded smaller clusters and less fruit.

    We had a battle with the birds this year too. Normally we don't install our bird netting in the Hill Country until early July. However, this year with the hot conditions the birds arrived early and in great numbers forcing a frenzy to get our netting up in early June.

    The frequent rains this season let us bypass irrigation for the most part in our Hill Country vineyards, with the exception of new plantings. The rain also spurred a late burst of additional canopy growth. While this isn’t typically desirable, especially in vineyards with bird netting installed, it has not caused any problems with fruit quality. In fact, those new leaves are providing a little shade for the fruit during high sun intensity. Rainfall has helped keep the canopy healthy and producing sugars.

    Normally, even with an early bud break the vine slows growth and the actual harvest timing is not earlier. However, this year it appears that our harvest will be earlier on most all varieties. The most significant differences I've seen are in Mourvèdre and Roussanne, which are our late ripening varieties, and they are going to be ready up to two weeks early. We will harvest right on time for our estate Viognier this week, and our Syrah will quickly follow next week.

    Picking Time

    Right now, the weather is shaping up to be pretty good for that last push of grape maturation. We’ve had hot and dry conditions with intermittent rainfall, with some vineyards receiving upwards of two inches in past four weeks. Luckily rain has been followed by heat drying down soils, which prevents berry swell and burst, and reduces the potential for cluster rot.

    We are right on track to bring in projected tonnage from our estate, managed and contracted vineyards around the state. I update my early season yield estimates every month from fruit set through pre-harvest as conditions in the field change. Estimates are crucial for a successful harvest so that we allocate funds to pay our growers, arrange for proper number of picking bins to be transported from the winery to the field, hire the appropriate level of labor, order supplies like yeast and oak barrels, and plan tank space in the cellar. Late season reds, from the High Plains are likely not to find a home in any cellar in Texas unless yield estimates are right on target. We can’t bring in more grapes than we have tank space to process. The good news is we are right on track to hit our estimates for an abundant crop.

    Not only is the quantity looking great but so is the quality! This year is shaping up to be a respectable vintage as the fruit is holding well in the field and developing delicious flavor profiles. While sugars are steadily increasing, the acids are holding well too.

    We’re not to the finish line yet. If we receive significant rainfall between now and the end of harvest, the quality of some varieties may suffer. Rainfall will wash out the sugars and flavors, and then we’ll have to delay harvest for these elements to come together again. Normally this is only problematic in later ripening varieties with tropical moisture events later in summer, but the tropical storms have started earlier than normal this year. Please do your “No Rain” dance for just a short time until we get all of the grapes in the cellar.

    Grape growing isn’t easy business. There are so many variables that are out of our hands that we have to manage. It is so satisfying to see everything coming together for another stand-out harvest. This means a fantastic 2017 vintage of wines is coming your way next year.



    The Similarities Between Successful Marriages and Delicious Wine

    29th Jun 2017 @ 08:22 by matt@penandtellus.com


    By Penny S. Adams, winemaker and viticulturist for Wedding Oak Winery

    June is traditionally the most popular month to get married. As the winemaker at a winery named for the 400-year-old Wedding Oak Tree where people have gathered for countless weddings over the centuries, this month caused me to reflect on the nature of marital unions. The most successful marriages bring out the best characteristics of both people as individuals, while also establishing a completely new couple’s persona that is only possible through the blending of those two people’s finest traits.

    The same is true with wine. (Yes, it is true that as a winemaker almost everything makes me think of a corollary in the wine world, but stick with me. . . wine and marriage do have similarities.) There are many excellent wines that are made with a singular grape variety. Think of Oregon Pinot Noir. And there are sundry stellar wines that are always made as blends. Think of Bordeaux wines made with a combination of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and other varieties.

    I’ve typically approached winemaking with an old-world approach, taking inspiration from classic wines like Spanish Rioja-styles. I blend complimentary grapes to make wines that are stylistically similar to how they are made in other areas of the world. For instance, I make our Terre Blanc with the same grape blends as you’ll find in Rhône white wines — Roussanne, Marsanne, and Viognier. This is a wonderful marriage of the elegant qualities of all three grapes. As the dominant partner, Marsanne, gives the blend its rich color, opulent pear aromas, and silky body. Roussanne contributes finesse to the blend with more depth, more richness, and intense aromatics. Viognier brings full-bodied peach, tangerine and honeysuckle scents and flavors to the union. The result of the marriage is a wine with complex herbal, nutty, and stone-fruit characters that aren’t fully present in any of the three individual wines.

    While I’ve always made some single variety wines, like our award winning Viognier, this vintage we had such stellar quantities and quality of grapes, I decided to make single variety Roussanne and Marsanne wines too. Now you have the opportunity to taste all three wines on their own, and as a wedded wine.

    Roussanne 2016

    The Roussanne grape can be persnickety and difficult to grow in great quantities, but the 2016 harvest from the Narra Vineyard in the Texas High Plains was exceptional. The grapes produced a wine with a beautiful golden straw color, powerful scents of fresh flowers, peaches, spice tea, roasted cashews and black pepper. This opulent wine has layers of honey and pear flavors. It’s lively acidity and a beautiful lingering finish make it a great accompaniment to Texas shellfish, grilled pork tenderloin, veal, and spicy Asian dishes. Our 2016 Roussanne won a gold medal at the prestigious 34th annual Lone Star International Wine Competition.

    2016 Marsanne

    This wine is as bright as a sunny summer day in Texas. The grapes are gown on a steep hillside with deep limestone and clay soils in our estate High Valley Vineyard in San Saba County. Typically, all of Marsanne grapes from this block go into our Terre Blanc wine, but in 2016, I separated a portion of the grapes to play with. I’m incredibly happy that I did. This wine has a rich, mineral texture that will become more complex with time. It bursts with spicy aromatics, and is lush with flavors of Meyer lemon and roasted almonds, with a creamy vanilla finish. It’s a great wine to serve with rich seafood dishes, and grilled chicken or pork tenderloin.

    Terre Blanc 2015

    While each of those single grapes make fantastic wines on their own, they make a wholly different and equally gorgeous Rhône-style blend made with 67% Marsanne, 21% Roussanne and 12 % Viognier. The grapes for this wine were harvested over a three-week period, with Roussanne coming into the cellar two weeks after the Viognier harvest, and the Marsanne harvested in between. Terre Blanc has a rich golden color, and opens with soft aromatics of honeycomb and chamomile. This lively blend has toasted almond, honeydew melon and pear flavors, and a crisp mineral-like mouthfeel. This perky white wine pairs nicely with chicken, pork and especially with Texas seafood on the grill.

    Give these two newly released, single variety white wines a try this summer. Then, see what the Roussanne and Marsanne taste like married together in our Terre Blanc. We think each of these wines will conjure the same romance as a wedding day.

    If you are planning a wedding, we also have a full suite of bridal themed wines, each made with a blend of grapes. They’re a great addition to any celebration of love.

    Bridal Bliss 2015

    Bridal Blush 2014

    Bridal Veil 2015

    Texedo Red 2015



    Wedding Oak Winery Wins 22 Medals at the 2017 Lone Star International Wine Competition

    12th Jun 2017 @ 05:22 by matt@penandtellus.com


    Wedding Oak Winery was recognized with 22 medals — including two gold medals — at the prestigious 34th annual Lone Star International Wine Competition conducted by the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association (TWGGA), June 5-6, 2017 at the Grapevine Convention Center. In all, Wedding Oak Winery was awarded two gold medals, 10 silver medals and 10 bronze medals in both Texas and International categories for its wines made with 100 percent Texas-grown grapes.

    The gold medal winning 2016 Wedding Oak Winery, Roussanne and 2015 Wedding Oak Winery, Tempranillo Reserve were just released and are now available. Both wines are made using 100 percent Texas grown grapes.

    The 2016 Roussanne is made with grapes harvested at night from the Narra Vineyard in the Texas High Plains. It has a beautiful golden straw color and powerful aromatics of fresh fruit, spice tea, cashews and black pepper. The opulent wine has layers of honey and pear flavors with lively acidity that let it pair incredibly well with Texas shellfish, grilled pork tenderloin, and dishes with savory sauces.

    The 2015 Tempranillo Reserva is made with grapes grown at Mirasol Vineyard in Lampasas County, managed by Wedding Oak Winery viticulturist and winemaker Penny Adams. The grapes were hand harvested in the early morning hours in early August. A touch of Viognier lees was used to help stick the color of the finished wine. The wine was barrel aged in neutral French oak for 14 months. It is full of cherry, cedar and tobacco box aromatics. The tart black cherry flavors and racy acidity make this a terrific food wine that pairs incredibly well with BBQ ribs, smoked pork tenderloin, and creamy mushroom risotto or paella.

    “I'm honored by this recognition from the prestigious Lone Star Wine Competition for the quality wines we produce,” says Penny Adams, winemaker. “The many hours of preparation and hard work that go into each vintage, with contributions by many people in the vineyards and cellar, is validated with these awards. While I’m proud of each accolade, I also use these results as a benchmark to challenge our winemaking to be even better in future vintages.”

    The Lone Star International Wine Competition was started in 1984 and is the oldest wine competition in Texas. The competition judged 595 wines submitted from around the world in more than 30 categories by a panel of restaurant owners, sommeliers, chefs, media, trade representatives and other wine experts from Texas and California.

    2017 Lone Star International Wine Competition Awards

    • Wedding Oak Winery, Roussanne, Texas High Plains, Narra Vineyards, 2016 — Gold (Texas)
    • Wedding Oak Winery, Tempranillo Reserve, Texas Hill Country, Mirasol Vineyard, 2015 — Gold (Texas)
    • Wedding Oak Winery, Wild Seed Farms, Baby's Breath, Texas High Plains, 2015 — Silver (Texas)
    • Wedding Oak Winery, Bridal Blush, Texas High Plains, 2015 — Silver (Texas)
    • Wedding Oak Winery, Marsanne, Texas Hill Country, High Valley Estate Vineyard, 2016 — Silver (International)
    • Wedding Oak Winery, Marsanne, Texas Hill Country, High Valley Estate Vineyard, 2016 — Silver (Texas)
    • Wedding Oak Winery, Rose de Dolcetto, Texas High Plains, Diamante Doble Vineyards, 2015 — Silver (Texas)
    • Wedding Oak Winery, Sangiovese, Texas Hill Country, 2015 — Silver (Texas)
    • Wedding Oak Winery, Tioja, Texas Hill Country, Mirasol Vineyard, 2015 — Silver (Texas)
    • Wedding Oak Winery, Viognier, Texas Hill Country, High Valley Estate Vineyard, 2016 — Silver (International)
    • Wedding Oak Winery, Viognier, Texas Hill Country, High Valley Estate Vineyard, 2016 — Silver (Texas)
    • Wedding Oak Winery, Wild Seed Farms, Wine Cup, Texas High Plains, 2015 — Silver (Texas)
    • Wedding Oak Winery, Bridal Veil, Texas High Plains, White Wine, 2016 — Bronze (Texas)
    • Wedding Oak Winery, Harmony Ridge, Texas Red Wine, 2015 — Bronze (Texas)
    • Wedding Oak Winery, Rose de Dolcetto, Texas High Plains, Diamante Doble Vineyard, 2016 — Bronze (Texas)
    • Wedding Oak Winery, Roussanne, Texas High Plains, Narra Vineyards, 2016 — Bronze (International)
    • Wedding Oak Winery, Sangiovese, Texas Hill Country, 2015 — Bronze (International)
    • Wedding Oak Winery, Sweet Alyssum, Texas High Plains, 2015 — Bronze (Texas)
    • Wedding Oak Winery, Tempranillo Reserve, Texas Hill Country, Mirasol Vineyard, 2015 — Bronze (International)
    • Wedding Oak Winery, Terre Blanc, Texas Hill Country, High Valley Estate Vineyard, 2015 — Bronze (International)
    • Wedding Oak Winery, Terre Blanc, Texas Hill Country, High Valley Estate Vineyard, 2015 — Bronze (Texas)
    • Wedding Oak Winery, Terre Rouge, Texas Hill Country, High Valley Estate Vineyard, 2015 — Bronze (Texas)


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