Retreat Hill Winery was our very first blog post so it is only fitting that we also bring the unfortunate news they announced on September 15th. After four years, Retreat Hill Winery & Vineyard will be closing.
Here is the announcement owner and winemaker Billy S. Cox, Jr. put on their Facebook page:
“We opened in August 2009 and Retreat Hill Winery & Vineyard will be closing after the 2013 October Wine & Sausage Trail, which concludes on Oct. 13, 2013. It’s been a great ride and I have learned a lot, made a lot of friends and dispensed some damn fine wine. Since our opening day, we have won 35 medals, including two gold, 12 silver and 25 bronze PLUS a silver belt buckle at the HLSR International Wine competition for Reserve Class Champion. We’ve been to festivals, hosted wine club parties for 400+ people and managed to get our wines in about 60 Spec’s stores in Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio and a bunch of points in between thanks to some very talented and dedicated current and former employees. With all the success, you may ask, why close?
“The reason is simple. The Texas wine industry is very difficult and it’s almost impossible to turn the kind of profit you need to recover your startup costs if you open a commercial winery unless you produce at least 6000 cases per year. The winery did about 3800 in 2012 and our growth continued. However, at the end of the day, I sat down and soul-searched to figure out whether I wanted to invest another 100-150K in order to meet the growth and get to the 6,000 case level and continue to work 7 days a week for the next couple of years to do it. I decided the answer was no.
“I want to focus on my family, friends and continue to build my biomechanical and forensic engineering consulting business (which has been a very full time job since I opened) and sit in the pool on Saturday afternoon with nice glass of somebody else’s Texas wine or a fine Texas beer or perhaps some great Texas brown water.
“The winery will be open for the Texas Bluebonnet Wine Trail, October Wine & Sausage Trail on Saturday, October 5 and 12 from 11 am to 6 pm and Sunday, October 6 and 13 from Noon to 5 pm. Our Star Club members will receive 30% off on all case purchases and our Dulce Blanco, sweet white Viognier/Gewürztraminer blend will be offered at $60 per case while supplies last. Thank you all for your support and please continue to support your local Texas wineries.
“Billy S. Cox, Jr., managing partner and winemaker”
We had a chance to meet with Billy Cox this past weekend for the first day of his last Texas Bluebonnet Wine Trail. Billy is a great cook and for the wine trail he was cooking venison sausage chili.
TWL: What was your proudest accomplishment in winemaking?
Cox: It’s easy to see the medals we’ve hung on one giant bottle so people can see what we’ve been doing. That’s certainly a big deal. I won a gold medal at the New York Finger Lakes International Wine Competition for my Riesling. Riesling is king in New York State and we won a gold for that out of state competition so that was pretty special. A lot of winemakers never do what we’ve accomplished, especially in four years. We’ve built a wine club that had 450 members, we’re in Spec’s in all the major cities in Texas, and I’m proud of that. Our brand is known in the Texas wine industry and when you go into a Spec’s and look at the Texas wine aisle and find 10 or 15 labels, we’re one of those 10 or 15 out of 280 plus wineries. That makes me feel like we’ve accomplished a lot of goals.
TWL: Will Retreat Hill still be part of Six Shooter Cellars in Fredericksburg?
Cox: No. I’m getting out of the wine business completely and am helping to find a replacement winery for Six Shooter Cellars.
TWL: Do you have any final words to say to your supporters and customers?
Cox: I just wanted to say thank you to all those who have helped through the years in both supporting and buying my wine. With the winery, I have met a lot of great people and friends who I would have never met otherwise.
We would like to thank Billy Cox for an enjoyable visit every time we visited Retreat Hill Winery & Vineyard and saw him. Make a trip if you can by the end of the Bluebonnet Wine Trail on October 13th and wish Billy Cox at Retreat Hill the best!