The largest wine trail in the state is the Texas Hill Country wine trail with 27 wineries at the moment. There are some fantastic wineries on the wine trail, and although it is a beautiful drive through the Hill Country, a lot of the wineries are far apart requiring more than a weekend if you want to visit them all. Fortunately, they have come up with a way to make it a little easier for you to taste the wines from some of the wineries on the wine trail. Four road shows are planned this year where 14-17 wineries will travel to you! The first road show was in Fort Worth and the second just occurred in Houston.
Fortunately we were able to attend the one in Houston and had a fantastic time. For three hours you get to talk with the winery representatives and taste the wines they brought. The time flies by and the evening is over before you know it. You cannot purchase any wines there but you can either order online with the winery or better yet, plan a visit to the Hill Country and visit the wineries.
The last two road shows are planned for San Antonio in July and Austin in October/November. If you get a chance to attend one of these events, you will not regret it.
Messina Hof Winery and Resort
Messina Hof Winery and Resort is in the town of Bryan. The winery is owned by Paul and Merrill Bonarrigo and was opened in 1977 making it the third oldest winery in Texas. Winemaker Paul Bonarrigo is also famous for his bright clothes and red beret.
When one visits Messina Hof, they are greeted by three large buildings: the Villa bed and breakfast, the Guest Center (tasting room, store, and wine bar), and the Vintage House restaurant. These buildings are located on the 100 acre property which includes 42 acres of vineyards growing the Black Spanish grape.
There is a fee for a tour and tasting four wines. The tour lasts approximately one hour and includes a souvenir wine glass. You can do a tasting without a tour, but the tour is definitely worth attending. Even though we have taken it twice, we have learned something different each time. After the tour, you are brought into the wine bar to taste four wines which are poured from the bottle. Depending on the tour guide, you can learn different things. For example, one guide taught us the proper way to drink wine. When the tasting is over, you have the ability to go to the tasting room and try some of the many other corked wines Messina Hof makes. A wine club is available.
Also in the Guest Center, the wine bar offers wine by the glass, bottle, or a wine flight. You can also purchase tapas to enjoy with the wine. A patio in the back of the Guest Center overlooks a pond where you can enjoy a glass of wine. There is also a trail that lets you walk around the pond.
The gift shop has a large variety of wine accessories in addition to food samples like jams and jellies.
The Villa Bed and Breakfast has ten rooms in the villa. For a Christmas gift, I surprised Gloria with a weekend in the Villa for us. The rooms in the villa are all uniquely decorated with a specific theme and the rooms are individually named. For example, we stayed in the Romeo and Juliet room. (pause for big ahhh).
When staying in the villa, there is a complimentary wine and cheese social in the evening at the wine bar and a champagne breakfast is served in the villa. A tour and tasting is also included with a stay in the villa.
The Vintage House restaurant serves both lunch and dinner. Surrounding the dining tables in the first room are wine oak barrels. On our first visit to Messina Hof, we ate a delicious lunch in the restaurant. The weekend we stayed at Messina Hof, we opted for the Chef’s Table. This is a five to six course meal in which you answer a questionnaire as to what kinds of foods you like and dislike. The chef will then prepare a specialized meal for you paired perfectly with Messina Hof wines.
The Chef’s Table meal was planned for Saturday night. We took a tour in the morning and when they showed us the bed and breakfast villa, which we were already staying in, the chef happened to walk in and the tour guide introduced us to him. It is a good thing we met him then because that was the last time we saw him. The expensive Chef’s Table meal was excellent and they like to end it with a flaming desert; we chose bananas foster which was prepared by the waitress. Even though the meal was excellent, we were disappointed we never saw the chef. You would think since we were sitting at the “Chef’s Table” and since he prepared the meal especially for us, he would have made an appearance to say hello and see how we enjoyed the meal.
All kinds of events are held at the winery including cooking classes, wine appreciation classes, food and wine pairing seminars, murder mystery, and winemaker dinners. Weddings are held at the winery and winemaker Paul can even perform the ceremony.
Since family is important at Messina Hof, they offer a VIP Red Beret program in which you can “join their family.” By joining the VIP program, you get many different benefits. Some of the benefits include discounts, tour and tasting for twenty people, and four VIP private parties throughout the year. One of the other items is a winemaker’s red beret so you can also try to look like a winemaker like Paul.
During our stay at the Villa, we came out of our room later in the morning and were pleasantly surprised to run into Paul and Merrill giving a tour to another gentleman. We had yet to meet the owners at that time. They said hello and we had to have our photo taken with them. We then went to the wine bar and the three of them walked in later and sat at a nearby table. We were considering joining the VIP program and decided it was time. Our tour guide was still in the wine bar and helped us out by joining. We received our red berets and he suggested we get our berets signed by Paul. We didn’t want to interrupt Paul, Merrill, and their guest, so the tour guide did it for us.
Paul came to sit at our table and signed both our berets. He talked to us for a while and told us the gentleman they were with was the architect for the rumored upcoming location in Fredericksburg. When he learned we had visited quite a few Texas wineries, he was appreciative and was very complimentary about other wineries. It was nice for Paul to take some time to talk to us and we felt better joining the VIP program after his little visit.
As it turned out, a week later Messina Hof announced they would be opening another winery in Fredericksburg. The grand opening is scheduled for October 19, 2011.
Messina Hof Winery and Resort is on the Bluebonnet Wine Trail. It is definitely worth a visit to enjoy the beautiful winery and hospitality from everybody.