Jason Englert is the winemaker at Grape Creek Vineyards located in Fredericksburg. He lives close to the winery so he is able to keep a close watch on the wines and estate vineyard. Jason has been with Grape Creek Vineyards since 2004. We asked Jason Englert about his background and philosophy of winemaking.
What did you do before becoming a winemaker (if anything)?
I had recently graduated from Texas Tech and was debating what I was going to do. The wine industry was the furthest thing from my mind. I took a temporary lab position at Llano Estacado Winery without knowing the difference between an `84 Cheval Blanc or Strawberry Hill. I think maybe I have learned the difference by now. That’s been almost 20 years ago!
What is the toughest challenge about being a winemaker in Texas?
Having to answer this question. Honestly, making wine with Texas fruit is getting easier. The Texas wine growers have come a long way since I began my career. It has made my job easier.
Is winemaking an art or a science or both?
Winemaking is like parenting. There is a certain balance to being a parent and the same applies to a winemaker. It’s quite a dynamic skill. As with children, some wine needs some more input from the winemaker and some need less. The trick is knowing when what is enough or not enough.
What is your favorite food and wine pairing?
Lays Kettle Cooked Sea Salt & Black Pepper potato chips with the last bottle of wine off the bottling line at the end of the day.
If you didn’t make wine, what would you do?
That’s a good question. It would be something in the industry. This is what I have been involved with during my entire professional career.
What first attracted you to winemaking and how long have you been doing it?
At first, it was a job for a college graduate. Being a Biology major, the fermentation science was interesting. I was lucky enough to have been mentored by a UC Davis trained wine professional at Llano Estacado for 8 years. I learned early how to pick up flaws in grapes, juice, and wine. I also learned how a wine should be balanced. These are skills that are very important when parenting a wine. For a long time, it was hard to enjoy wine because I was always looking for flaws in a wine. I am starting my 20th year.
What is the most common question you are asked as a winemaker?
All of these questions!!
After a long day in the winery or vineyard, what do you do?
Have an adult beverage.
What’s the greatest part about being a winemaker?
Every year brings something new and fulfilling. Not really. It’s the fame & fortune!!!!!
What is your winemaking philosophy, that is, what are you trying to achieve with your wines?
I want to make the best wines that the fruit will allow me to make with as little input as possible. But we don’t always get what we want. I have also made really good wines with grapes that were problem children over the years. Consistency in quality from year to year is important to me.
Anything else you would like to add?