Wichita Falls Winery is located in Wichita Falls and is owned by Alton and Lana Gates. Alton started making wine in 2001 and the winery was open for business in November 2003.
I was able to visit the winery with four friends. When we arrived at the winery, Alan Gates was behind the tasting counter. We were told how the tastings worked and selected which wines we wanted to taste.
Tastings are done standing at the tasting bar and the wines are poured using a measured pourer. There is a tasting fee of $1 for each wine you select except for their Port style wine. Bottles use both corks and screw caps.
Wichita Falls has two wine labels. The Wichita Falls Winery label is primarily used for wines made with Texas grapes and the second label is Gates for everything else. When we visited, they had two Wichita Falls wines. They primarily now use California grapes but previous years used mostly Texas grapes.
During our tasting we chose to taste the Zinfandel Dessert Wine. In doing so we all were given a spoon to taste between the wine and their Cabernet Chocolate and Port Chocolate wine sauces. There definitely was a difference in the taste of the wine after tasting the chocolate.
Tours are given if possible and we were fortunate to get a tour of the production facility. There were numerous stainless steel tanks including a 4,630 gallon tank. We also learned that Wichita Falls was the first Texas winery which had a full-size screw cap bottler. They have the capacity to crush and de-stem 10 1/2 tons of grapes. We were then able to barrel taste a 2006 Sangiovese and a 2006 Cabernet Franc.
Wichita Falls has a nice gift shop with wine glasses, clothing, wine accessories, and more. Events are held such as wine tastings for groups. They used to produce 12,000 cases of wine a few years ago but now they are around 4,000 cases.
Popular wines that Wichita Falls makes are:
- Blushes and Rosés
- Sweet red wines
- Cabernet Sauvignon including a 2003 from Newsom Vineyards
- Petite Sirah
- Zinfandel dessert wines
We also learned that Wichita Falls makes the wines for 501 Winery. Currently the 501 Winery is closed due to road construction but they are hoping to open again in May. The 501 Texas wines are all 100% Texas grapes made from the county of Childress. 501 Winery gets its name from the name of the railroad which goes through town.
Wichita Falls Winery is on the Red River Wine Trail. We had a fun time listening to Alton Gates and enjoyed our visit to Wichita Falls Vineyards and Winery.