We were last in East Texas in April when we were invited to the Kiepersol Estates Distillery and Tasting Rooms Premiere and visited some other wineries at the time too. One of the wineries we tried to make an appointment to visit was Pelle Legna, but the timing was not right. With a free weekend and the Downtown Tyler Wine Swirl happening, I checked on an appointment with Pelle Legna again and the timing was right this time. A Saturday visiting some wineries and ending with the Downtown Tyler Wine Swirl seemed like a perfect day for a road trip.
Our appointment with Dawn Leatherwood of Pelle Legna was at 10 a.m. and we arrived just before the appointment time. Dawn welcomed us and we had a great time tasting her wines, meeting her husband Harry, visiting the vineyard, and just plain enjoying ourselves. If you did not get a chance to read about our visit, you can read it here. It was a great start to the day.
We then headed to nearby Grand Oaks Vineyards and Winery which just opened in May. We were intrigued because they had some wines like Tempranillo (one of Gloria’s favorites). When we arrived at the winery, there was a nice vineyard in front which we learned later was 2.5 acres. We were the only customers present at the time of our visit so it was a nice time to talk to one of the owners, Martha McHenry, and then later briefly her husband Carroll. Since the winery is new, they are not used to wine bloggers/writers and other aspects of promoting the Texas wine industry, but they will be soon!
Our next stop was Landon Winery in Greenville for the Saturday afternoon barrel tasting and tour. When friend Dave Potter and I visited Landon Winery recently and tasted with owner Bob Landon, he teased Dave how he had not been out to the Greenville location yet. I promised Bob when I go to Greenville to take the barrel tasting and tour given by Bob, I would make sure Dave attended too. Sure enough, I was able to convince Dave to make the trip, but when we all got to the winery, we learned Bob wasn’t going to be there. Next time all three of us will have to make it at once.
The barrel tasting and tour instead was given by head winemaker Jason Dodson. He told the tour group he doesn’t usually give the tours but he would do his best. He started by pouring all of us a Chardonnay which had come from Pheasant Ridge Winery. Jason said there was just enough wine for the wine club members, so it was a treat we got to taste it. He will probably do something to the wine before releasing it, and as an example he added some tartaric acid in it to show the difference in taste. The wines from Pheasant Ridge Winery were from barrels or tanks and not necessarily finished wine.
The next white wine we tasted was a Sémillon and then we moved into the red wines. The first barrel tasting was a 2012 Tempranillo from the Bingham Family Vineyards which had been harvested at 27 brix and had gotten 13 tons per acre. Another 2012 Tempranillo from a different block at the vineyard was tasted which was in French oak and it will probably be released unfiltered.
We looked at Landon Winery’s bottling machine, the GAI 1001 W, which does 1,000 bottles an hour. Some other wines we tasted from barrels were:
- 2006 Merlot from Pheasant Ridge Winery
- Muscat Alexandria from Bingham Family Vineyards
- Amarone blend with Petite Sirah included
- 2012 Cabernet Franc from Bingham Family Vineyards
- 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon from Pheasant Ridge Winery
- 2012 Stagecoach Vineyard (Napa Valley) Merlot
- 2011 Stagecoach Vineyard Merlot
- 2010 Stagecoach Vineyard Merlot
- 2012 Stagecoach Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
- 2011 Stagecoach Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
- 2010 Stagecoach Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
- 2012 Jujube. This is a fruit from a tree and the wine won a Bronze at the 2014 Lone Star International Wine Competition
- 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon Grand Finale Port
To finish off the barrel tastings, Jason then had us try a Margarita wine made from 100% Muscat Alexandria with minor additions for flavoring. Most comments from the tour group were very positive that it tasted similar to a real Margarita.
The barrel tasting and tour at Landon Winery had lasted almost two hours and with being that long and with what we learned and tasted, it was definitely worth $25 a person.
We said goodbye to Dave Potter and headed to Crump Valley Vineyards to see our friend Travis Crump. We first visited Crump Valley almost three years ago before the addition of the new tasting room and the winery was by appointment only. Travis had set up a tasting in the production area for us at the time and this was going to be Gloria’s first time back to see the new tasting room.
Travis along with Diana Lewis greeted us when we arrived at the winery. Travis gave us a tour of the winery and reminded Gloria what it had looked like when we were first there. We then had a tasting of their wines and even though we were going to be eating bites at the Downtown Tyler Wine Swirl next, when Gloria saw they were serving garlic shrimp pasta, that was it and she had to have some. Diana had the shrimp marinated with garlic, then sautéed with mushroom, artichoke, capers, and pear tomatoes. I was able to grab a bite before it was devoured and it definitely was delicious.
We had a great time tasting and talking with Travis and Diana, and we will definitely be back the next time we are in the area.
Heading back to Tyler, we first checked into our hotel for the evening and then on to find the Wine Swirl starting location in downtown Tyler. Parking was not difficult and we soon found the start of the Wine Swirl and were swirling away with the 18 Texas wineries who were present. It was a fun time seeing people from the wineries we already knew and new people who we were able to meet. Photos of the Texas winery owners and winemakers along with a description of the Wine Swirl are in the Downtown Tyler Wine Swirl post.
The Wine Swirl was a great ending to another fun trip to the East Texas wine country.