Robert H. Fritz is the winemaker and co-owner at Solaro Estate now with two locations. The primary winery is located in Dripping Springs and a new Urban Winery is in Houston. Solaro Estate has been winning many awards with their Texas wines including wines from their large estate vineyard. Robert Fritz answered our questions about his background and winemaking.
What did you do before becoming a winemaker (if anything)?
I am a State and Federal Trial Lawyer and am currently prosecuting five cases. I was featured in the 2014 Texas Bar Journal regarding the balance of litigation and wine making.
What is the toughest challenge about being a winemaker in Texas?
Since 2009, Solaro Estate has produced hand punched, barrel aged reds recognized as among the best in the world. It is a long term challenge to one day market these quality wines for the same price as wines of lesser quality from other regions.
Is winemaking an art or a science or both?
In 2008, Solaro Estate coined the phrase “The Art of Science.” Science can produce wines that taste the same in every vintage and this is the bulk of wines in the world. “Art” considers the natural characteristics of every vintage and it is Art that produces the best wines that are appreciated by the connoisseurs of the world.
What is your favorite food and wine pairing?
Is food paired with wine or is wine paired with food? It is one of life’s luxuries to consider this every day, as we gather to enjoy food and wine. Solaro Estate is a unique place in the world, situated between Spanish influence to the west and French/Cajun influence to the southeast. Some of the true, limited production wines indicate the region: Tempranillo, Chenin Blanc, Barbera, and Montepulciano are proving to pair with Northern Mexican, New Mexican, Cajun, and Texas fares better than any wines in the world.
Tempranillo = Northern-New Mexican. Chenin Blanc = Gulf seafood and blackened Cajun. Barbera = Texas black angus beef. Montepulciano = local organic everything. My favorite pairing is Solaro Estate grown Barbera (2014 Texas Class Champion) and medium rare Solaro grass fed, Black Angus rib eye. It doesn’t get any better than this, anywhere!
If you didn’t make wine, what would you do?
Practice law, drink wine, and visit wineries.
What first attracted you to winemaking and how long have you been doing it?
I have been making wine since I was 10 years old. My mother’s family has been producing wine in Europe for over 200 years. It is important that expansive Solaro Estate maintain sustainable agriculture and local agriculture in the Texas Hill Country during this period of commercial expansion and housing development.
What is the most common question you are asked as a winemaker?
Why do these wines taste better than the ones we are used to? Solaro Austin and Solaro Houston are asked this question multiple times every day.
After a long day in the winery or vineyard, what do you do?
Almost without exception, wine members which include neighbors, friends, and workers at other wineries, stop by the vineyards to hang out and enjoy what all of our lives, in the winemaking world, are about.
What’s the greatest part about being a winemaker?
Personally, my other world starts and finishes with a legal case. Winemaking encompasses history, patience, and the future of every vintage.
What is your winemaking philosophy, that is, what are you trying to achieve with your wines?
At Solaro, we make wine which exhibits the grape and terroir. Purity is at the heart of every Solaro bottle. Everyone at Solaro has the passion of vineyard, cellar, and cave. There are no shortcuts to International award winning, Sommelier class wines. Our mission has been successful in bringing Solaro wines to the World stage.