Circle S Vineyards is located in Sugar Land and opened in 2003. The winery and tasting room are in a shopping center but the winery has vineyards in Centerville, Texas and the Tuscany region of Italy. Yes, depending on the yearly harvest, the winery does get grapes from their Italian vineyard arriving via ship. All wine is made at the winery in Sugar Land.
When you first walk into the winery, up front is a very nice gift shop with wine accessories and gift items. In the rear of the winery is the tasting bar where we have been greeted twice by owner Dave Stacy’s wife, Helen, handling the tastings.
Free tours are available of the winery’s manufacturing area all day long up until 30 minutes before closing. The last time we were at the winery, Helen gave us a tour of the facilities. The winery uses both American and French barrels, and a new barrel is used for every new production. The tour includes the normal stainless steel tanks, wine barrels, and bottling area. Since we had just done bottling at a nearby winery the previous week, this was familiar to us, however Circle S Vineyards has an upgraded bottling system complete with labeling. The corking machine was also powered versus the manual corker we had experienced previously. If volunteers are found, they can help with the bottling, otherwise Dave and Helen Stacy do the bottling themselves. We may have to pitch in and help sometime.
After the tour, we sat at the tasting bar to begin our tasting. There is a tasting fee for 4 or 5 wines and the tastings are poured with a measured pourer. Depending on the time of the year there may also be seasonal wines which have been produced.
Some of the wines made by Circle S Vineyards are with 100% Texas grapes and some as mentioned previously are brought in from their Italian vineyard. A Pinot Noir we tasted was made with grapes from Oregon.
One of the wines Circle S Vineyards is noted for is their Amarone. We were told Amarone is a style of wine like Champagne and Chianti using grapes from Italy. Making the wine requires a special and time consuming process, and can be made from three types of grapes. Dave Stacy is one of only 141 Amarone makers in the world and one of only two Amarone makers in the United States. Amarone usually has higher alcohol content around 15 percent and is more expensive than other wines since it is usually not released until at least five years after vintage. A bottle of Circle S Vineyard’s Amarone costs only $59.
There is a wall with awards behind the tasting bar but most were from 2003 and 2005. I asked about any recent competitions and we were told competitions like the Houston rodeo requires four cases of wine to enter the competition in addition to the somewhat hefty competition fee. Hence, they have not entered too many recent competitions. That seems like a lot of wine to give away just to enter a competition.
Upstairs in the winery are living room setups with soft lighting and art to enjoy a glass of wine while reading, playing board games, or just listening to music. The winery holds private events and parties all the time. Food is not offered at the winery. The winery can produce custom labels which have been legally approved.
The winery only has an exclusive wine club called the Vintner’s Select Club with a yearly fee which includes discounts, private events, and other items. Circle S Vineyards is not part of a wine trail but you can get a Texas Winery Passport code there. The winery is a nice place to visit for a relaxing glass of wine, so be sure to stop by the next time you are in the southwest Houston area.