The Austin Winery is located on the east side of Austin and is an urban winery. Ross McLauchlan is the CEO and President who works on sales and sourcing grapes while Cooper Anderson is the Vice President and head winemaker. Chief of Operations is Matt Smith who handles the accounting and administration. The winery opened early May 2014. Currently they are open on Saturdays for tastings and other days by appointment. Even on Saturdays, it is a good idea to confirm with them a time for a tasting as they often have events occurring.
I visited the winery which is located in an industrial park on a side street off US Highway 290 early on a Saturday morning. Ross and Cooper greeted me as they were preparing for a bachelorette party who would be arriving after my visit. They gave me a tour of their facility after first giving me my first taste of the day, their Wild Hare Sauvignon Blanc 2012 sourced from Lodi.
We started in the dining room which is used for events and adjacent is a nice seating lounge where people can relax to enjoy a glass of wine. They will be adding a tasting bar soon.
While in the production area they explained how they currently are working with vineyards in California and are looking at Washington and Oregon too. They wanted to be able to provide the best quality wines they could by working with vineyards in regions which are known for the highest quality of a particular varietal. I thought this concept was similar to The Nice Winery in Houston and they equated their business model to the Orin Swift Winery in Napa.
They also want to provide Texas wine and are working with Westcave Cellars to get Texas grapes. Initially they are getting Merlot grapes from the Hendricks Family Vineyard and will be making a Merlot Rosé in addition to a Merlot, and I got to taste some of the Merlot from the tank they will be making. They will also be looking for more Texas grapes. Patrick Johnson is available for consulting who is a recently retired Driftwood Estate Winery winemaker. We briefly met Patrick at the Driftwood winery a few years ago.
Back to the tasting, there is a tasting fee for all the wines they currently have available. Today that is the following:
- Chardonnay- (Keefer Ranch Vineyard) Russian River Valley 2012
- Pinot Noir – Russian River Valley 2011
- Pinot Noir – Sonoma County 2011
- Pinot Noir – Santa Lucia Highlands 2011
- Violet Crown – Sierra Foothills 2011 (80% Grenache, 20% Syrah)
- Cabernet Sauvignon – Napa Valley 2011 (94% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Merlot, 2%Cabernet Franc, 2% Petite Verdot)
- Old Vine Zinfandel – Shenandoah Valley 2010 (90% Zinfandel, 10% Petite Syrah)
Their wines use both corks and screw caps and each bottle has a colorful label which is from an original art work by Texas artist Nic Mathis. The subject of each drawing hints at the character of that particular wine. Right now they are making 2,000 cases of wine a year but are hoping to get to 3,500 cases by the end of the year.
One of the great ideas they have is using a barrel program. They use small 9 liter barrels which house a single bag in the barrel to dispense wine with minimal oxidation. This is great for parties and small groups as it saves on the cost of wine without the overhead of bottles, labels, and corks. The wine in a barrel will hold well for at least four weeks. Currently the wines used in the barrel program are their Old Vine Zinfandel and Violet Crown.
As far as events like the bachelorette party which was going to happen after my visit, they also hold other parties and dinners. They poured for The Peached Tortilla pop-up dinner in June. A pop-up dinner term was new to me but it is simply a dinner not held at an established restaurant and in this case the dinner used The Peached Tortilla food truck.
The Austin Winery will be hosting The Austin Winery Tapas Dinner on July 26 with Chef Carlos Crusco. This will be a four course dinner with wine pairings.
Once college starts again, the winery will be holding Wednesday night wine classes to help educate consumers on wine. The Austin Winery also has a wine club available for their wines. There is a gift shop available with clothing, wine glasses, and a corkscrew.
For being only open a short time, The Austin Winery is already making a big impact.