Kuhlman Cellars is located in Stonewall and is owned by Chris and Jennifer Cobb. The winemaking is done by Bénédicte Rhyne. We were fortunate to get a preview of what would be offered at the winery when it was still under construction this past May.
Now the winery building is almost complete and they officially opened on October 3rd. At first they were planning on appointment only and then changed their mind to “by appointment please.” That means to fully appreciate your time at Kuhlman Cellars, an appointment would be preferred but if needed, they will take walk-ins. Appointments can be made on the half hour.
The whole concept behind Kuhlman Cellars can be summed up with one word: experience. They want to provide the best possible experience to their customers and for anybody who has visited wineries, there is no doubt that a determination one makes of a winery is always based on the experience received. That is the reason for preferring appointments.
So we made our appointment and arrived at the winery located right off Highway 290. Landscaping is still needed at the winery but the building is ready to accept customers. We met Chris Cobb on the front porch and while standing there, we enjoyed the beautiful view overlooking Lyndon B. Johnson State Park. That is great because it means there will not be anything built across the road to take away from the view they currently have.
Chris explained the different blocks of vineyard they will be planting which will eventually be a total number of seven acres. Marsanne and Roussanne will be planted first. Chris pointed out the gutters had just been installed and they will be using rainwater and recycled water for irrigation of the vineyard. A pond in the far corner of the lot will be filled with the rainwater coming from the winery’s roof.
We went inside the winery where tables were already set up for guests and met Jennifer Cobb in addition to our longtime friend Jennifer Beckmann. Chris gave us a quick tour of the winery. The tasting room is at the front of the winery and besides the kitchen, the production area with tanks and barrels complete the first floor. Walking upstairs reaches a loft which overlooks the production area and they are trying to decide what to do with the loft. The current thought is to use it for a wine club lounge. When the production building gets built nearby, the current production area in the winery will turn into a barrel room.
It was now time for our tasting and we took our seats at one of the tables which had been prepared for us. Chris called the table areas “pods” and there were different pods located in the tasting room and they could also be moved around easily as necessary.
There is a tasting fee of $20 but besides the personal experience provided, it also includes a food pairing for each wine. There is a total number of five wines offered and four out of the five wines are made with Texas grapes and there is no surprise with the fifth wine using Sonoma County grapes. Jennifer Beckmann, Certified Sommelier, poured the first three wines which were white wines in separate glasses using an aerator pourer on each bottle. They use multiple glasses for each wine to allow the guest to compare and also so one wine does not affect the taste of another. Jennifer explained the different wines one by one along with the food which was appropriately paired for that wine.
It was then time for the two red wines and they also had appropriate food pairings. During this time, I was thinking what a peaceful and relaxing experience this was instead of standing two to three deep at a tasting bar and trying to get a tasting guide’s attention. When you factor in the personal attention you receive along with the food pairing and the relaxing time, the little higher tasting fee certainly is reasonable.
While we were tasting, winemaker Bénédicte Rhyne arrived to do some punch downs on bins fermenting in the production area. It was nice we had a chance to see her again. I asked Chris about the amount of wine produced already and they have done 1,300 cases of wine.
It was no surprise that the wines tasted were the same ones we had tasted in May. The difference this time was there had been some age in the bottle compared to last time. These are the wines we tasted:
- Sauvignon Blanc 2013. 88% Sauvignon Blanc from Mesa Vineyards, Fort Stockton and 12% Sémillon from the High Plains. No oak was used.
- Calcaria 2013. 77% Chenin Blanc from Mesa Vineyards, 13% Sémillon from the Pheasant Ridge vineyard, and 10% Sauvignon Blanc from Mesa Vineyards. This is a blend they want to bring out every year.
- Roussanne 2012. 90% Roussanne from Oswald Vineyard in the High Plains and 10% Chenin Blanc from Mesa Vineyards. No oak was used.
- Alluvé 2012. 59% Carignan, 22% Petite Sirah, and 19% Grenache. The grapes came from Sonoma County.
- Texas Red Blend 2012. 49% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Carignan, 11% Cabernet Franc, and 10% Grenache.
There is a wine club called Vina Vita which means “wine life.” The wine club has three choices of bottle shipments: 3, 6, and 12. The best thing is the customer can select exactly the wines they would like in the shipments four times a year instead of the winery deciding for the wine club member.
We had enjoyed another wonderful tasting at Kuhlman Cellars. As the winery gets more popular, they will be able to handle a maximum of 36 people an hour and still allow the customer experience.
If you want to enjoy a wine tasting with excellent wines, I would highly suggest making an appointment at Kuhlman Cellars. Their website is still being worked, but you can find all the information you need to make an appointment on their Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/kuhlmancellars.