Duchman Family Winery is located off a main road in Driftwood so it is very easy to find. When you first pull into the entrance, you are greeted by a beautiful 15 acre vineyard eventually leading to gorgeous grounds with two buildings and landscaping including a big fountain in front.
We have had the fortune to visit Duchman Family Winery a few times. The first two times were in the dark so we couldn’t really appreciate the beauty of the winery until we visited during the daytime. At night, lights are in the trees, music plays, and water flows while you sit at tables or benches around the winery drinking wine. During the day you can see the vineyards and estate. It really is a toss-up as to which is better, so let’s just recommend you visit twice or stay longer from day into night.
Duchman Family Winery was co-founded in 2004 by Drs. Lisa and Stan Duchman. The Duchmans traveled the world visiting the great wine-producing regions and Italy is where the Duchmans found the inspiration for their winery. An Italian restaurant was built adjacent to the winery and the Italian influence is present throughout the beautiful grounds.
When you first walk into the winery there is a tasting bar directly in the front, but the main tasting bar is to the left. There is a tasting fee and you can select six wines to taste. You stand at their L-shaped tasting bar while you taste. It is a large bar but if it is a popular weekend, like a wine trail weekend, it can get crowded. All their wine bottles are corked and the tastings are poured from the bottle.
All the wines made at Duchman Family Winery use Texas grapes, either from their own vineyard or the vineyards in the high plains of Texas. In the same building with the tasting rooms you can see the large production facilities behind glass.
The first time we visited, we did the wine tasting and then bought a bottle of wine to drink outside under the trees. While enjoying the night, we saw some people eating a pizza and decided we were hungry. We checked at the restaurant and unfortunately being a Saturday night, there was a two hour wait! We headed back to the winery dejected and very hungry now. Our tasting guide saw us and we told our story. He/she (we don’t want to get them in trouble) gave us the solution. Since you’re reading this blog (see, there is a good reason to follow us), you now have the tip. Call the restaurant and order take out! We did so, had the food in 20 minutes, and brought it back to the winery. We bought another bottle of wine (they were only 375ml bottles), sat at a wine barrel table with two chairs in front of the production facility, and had a wonderful dinner.
The second time we visited, it was dinner time and we ate at the Italian restaurant before we visited the winery. This time there was no wait. We had a bottle of wine during dinner and were confused why the wine we selected was called Mandola. We didn’t say anything at the time but investigation later discovered the story. To clear it up for us and anybody else wondering, the Duchmans started the winery and restaurant with Damian Mandola. The winery was called the Mandola Estate Winery. The partners have since parted ways and Mr. Mandola retained possession of the restaurant while the Duchmans took control of the winery and renamed it to Duchman Family Winery. The winemakers remained so the same great wine has continued. We believe soon there will only be the name of Duchman Family Winery on the wines produced.
As you may have read in our blog earlier, we are big proponents of the Texas Wine Passport program. (Note: now with the cutting of the wine marketing budget by the state of Texas, we are waiting to hear officially what will happen with the Passport program, but we fear the worse). As you reach the higher levels in the Passport program, the rewards come from the wineries themselves. Our second winery reward was a private tasting and tour for 6 people at Duchman Family Winery. That was fine with us! We worked with Duchman’s director of sales Bill Elsey to arrange a day and time for our private tasting. When the day came, we loaded up a van with our six people and made the three hour trek. When we arrived at the winery, it was our first view of Duchman Family Winery during the day. It was as beautiful as it was at night, even though it was winter and the greenery was not present.
Walking into the winery, the tasting bar in the front was ready for us and we met our tasting and tour guide William. He welcomed us and told us a little about the winery. We were going to get a tasting of a limited number of wines and a tour. William gave us a very interesting tour of the production facilities. It would have been nice to go inside the actual rooms instead of trying to see everything through the glass, but there is probably some insurance risk.
We learned that Duchman Family Winery is one of the few wineries who now have their wine available in kegs much like beer. The wine is currently sold in Whole Foods stores. This allows the store to serve wine on tap in their stores so you can have a glass of wine while you shop. The kegs keep the wine fresh compared to a bottle that will let the wine get exposed to the air.
We did our tasting next. Everybody that came with us had never done a wine tasting before, so they enjoyed trying the different types of wines. Everybody had a great time and most importantly for Duchman Family Winery, everybody bought bottles of wine. That is one of the best parts of the Texas Wine Passport program for the wineries.
Public tours are available every weekend on the hour. Private tours and tastings like we had are available for a minimum of 10 people with a fee per person.
An events center adjacent to the barrel room has been built where Duchman Family Winery hosts events from weddings to wine education classes.
Duchman Family Winery is part of the Texas Hill Country wine trail and is definitely worth a visit.