If you stopped by Hilmy Cellars in the past couple years, you most likely would have seen the large, friendly smile of Vinny Lupo greeting you. From all our travels throughout Texas visiting Texas wineries, there is no doubt that a great tasting guide makes your winery experience even more enjoyable, and Vinny does just that. I have often driven down Wine Road 290 and had to stop by Hilmy Cellars just to see Vinny’s smile, see what wines are new, and walk out after buying a bottle.
Vinny and I had agreed to do this post a few weeks ago. In the meantime though, Vinny no longer works at Hilmy Cellars, so we had to change the post idea slightly.
I asked Vinny to explain a little about his background and how he found his way into the wine industry.
“My place of birth is Brooklyn, N.Y. But that’s never been where I call home. Texas has always been the one place out of the many I’ve lived that I call home. I found myself in Fredericksburg after I rode back to Texas from South Carolina on my little ’79 Honda 400. I knew someone in Mason and was offered a place to stay. Shortly after arriving, I was introduced to Texas wine at Sandstone Cellars. I was immediately hooked and started helping around the tasting room now and then, and even got a couple of days in Don Pullum’s vineyard. After meeting my wife, I started working at the Buffalo Nickel Bar and Grill in Fredericksburg. I got tired of the commute and we moved from Mason a week after being married.
“I eventually found myself wanting a part of the wine world after my wife found herself at Pedernales Cellars. After a year or so, I finally worked up the nerve to try. I walked into a job at Hilmy Cellars. I was immediately interested in the job because I was told I would be required to work in the vineyard and the winery itself.
“After a year of general duties, I took on the Tasting Room Manager position. Shortly before my departure, I stepped back down to associate. I love what Erik Hilmy does with Tempranillo. Easily my favorites. He loves the old world style and does it well. I am indebted to Erik for my current foundation and I am excited to watch them grow and excel.”
I asked Vinny what he is doing now and what he wants to do.
“Right now I am freelancing to continue my path towards obtaining my CSW (Certified Specialist of Wine). I am currently helping out at Pedernales Cellars. I hope to get some time pouring there in addition to helping with the cellar and vineyard work. A full-time position there would be lovely as well. I would be proud to pour and work for the Kuhlken/Osterberg clan.”
If anybody is looking for a friendly, helpful face to improve the wine sales in your tasting room, I’m sure there are many who would agree Vinny Lupo is your man.