One thing we have learned by visiting Texas wineries is you can make wine out of pretty much anything. The usual fruit used to make wine of course are grapes. However, we have come across wines made from all kinds of fruits such as peaches, pears, and apples. Other wines have been made from the fruit of a prickly pear cactus, roses and honeysuckle, and even jalapenos. We came across a couple of these wineries while visiting East Texas.
Dixie Wine Company
The Dixie Wine Company is very easy to find on a main road in Bullard. Their website does not have the days and hours they are open, so you need to contact owner Jerry Collins to verify the open hours. He is very quick to reply to an email though. The winery is not listed on the GO TEXAN Wine website but they do have a Texas Passport code.
When we arrived at the winery, it was almost ready to open and after taking some outside photos, the front door was opened. Owner Jerry Collins greeted us to his winery and invited us for a tasting.
We were introduced to some of Jerry’s wines made from fruit and grapes they grow, along with using grapes from other vineyards. About 10 percent of their fruit is from out of state. Some of their fruit wines include peach, strawberry, kiwi, raspberry, and watermelon.
All bottles are corked and you sit at the tasting bar to taste their wines. There is no tasting fee if you buy a bottle of wine, although there is a sign saying there is a tasting fee. We believe it depends on the owner’s decision at the end. The wine is poured from the bottle for the tasting, and peanuts are available to cleanse your palate while tasting.
We tasted quite a few wines during our stay. One wine should have been chilled but was not. Jerry said it was because he did not have room in the refrigerator.
There was a coupon on their website for 50% off a bottle of wine per customer but Jerry said he doesn’t honor it anymore because people were taking advantage of the coupons. Hmm, we thought that was the purpose of coupons. Jerry said, “I need to remove that from the website.” We’re writing this one month later and the coupon is still on the website.
Dixie Wine Company opened in 2007. They can do custom wine brewing using their fruits or your own, in addition to creating personalized labels for you. The winery is available for company event and private parties.
Dixie Wine Company is part of the Piney Woods Wine Trail.
Sweet Dreams Winery
Sweet Dreams Winery is located in the back roads of Palestine. The winery is owned by Mike and Sandra Pell. We found the winery fairly easily soon after they had opened for the day.
We were first helped by a friendly lady to do the tasting. She explained we would taste their entire selection of wines which is quite a few. There is a tasting fee to taste all their wines and you stand at the tasting bar while the wines are poured from un-corked bottles. There is food present for cleansing your palate. Wine-A-Rita’s, a frozen drink made with wine, is available for an extra fee.
While we were doing our tasting, co-owner and winemaker Mike Pell came in and helped with information while we tasted the wines. He explained the winery opened in 2006 when he started making wine for himself. He said he never dreamed the business would be where it is today including winning international wine competitions. They have won 19 awards in International wine competitions in New York and Florida. Mike is a fireman and will be retiring this year to run the winery full-time.
The winery has mostly fruit wines although they do make Muscadine and Wild Mustang grape wine. They get all their fruit locally, about 90 percent, except strawberries and raspberries. Near the end of our tasting, we reached their jalapeno wine. We actually had previously encountered a jalapeno wine at another winery. Gloria loves spicy foods so she chose to try it. She admitted it was a little better than the other winery.
When we finished the tasting, Mike asked if we wanted a tour. That was unexpected but the answer was, “of course!” He brought us to a lower room with the production facilities of the winery and explained the process from the start when the fruit comes in, to the corking and labeling of the bottles.
He said he only uses distilled water in their wines. In addition, he said when making the wines he solely tastes them and determines they are finished when he likes them. To add some humor to the tour, the reason he determines when the wines are ready is because if he doesn’t sell them all, he’s going to have to drink them. The winery is in the process of expanding the building to have more warehouse space.
A gift shop is available which has jams and jellies in addition to many other items. They do have music events in addition to weddings and other special events. Wines can be purchased by the glass or bottle and enjoyed in the tasting room or a large covered porch overlooking the vineyard.
Sweet Dreams Winery is on the Piney Woods Wine Trail.