Of all the intriguing and special things in life, history itself has to be one of the most exhilarating topics to pontificate and discuss. It shapes us, defines who we are, and it sheds light on why things are the way they are present day. Few opportunities in life are as rewarding as sitting down to chat with someone who has “been there, done that” and set things in motion for history to be pondered. Here at Texas Wine Lover, we recognize and respect the true historians of Texas Wine, and we simply could not miss out on an opportunity to sit down and have another chat with two of the most influential and pivotal individuals in the Texas Wine Industry today, Jim and Karen Johnson. As many of you know, the beloved Alamosa Wine Cellars is closing its doors for good on September 6, 2015. Although this will truly be a sad day for our state’s wine program, you cannot help but envy the upcoming fun and travels that are sure to fill the days of retirement for the Johnsons.
Tio Pancho Ranch, which is the Alamosa Wine Cellars estate vineyard, was first planted to Viognier and Sangiovese in 1996. There are presently over nine grape varieties being cultivated in that particular alluvial slice of terroir in Bend, Texas. The initial push for Tempranillo as a commercially planted and produced grape in Texas was initiated by the Johnsons in 1998. A flat bed trailer with a crude homemade wooden box on board was created to make the long trip out to California to bring home pots and pots of baby Tempranillo vines. One can only imagine the looks they invited by the Californians as the Texas duo cruised back to the Lone Star state with the Spanish vines in tow, a trailer full of dreams and aspirations pulled behind the pickup. Fast forward to present day and we owe a debt of gratitude to Jim and Karen for their forward thinking, hard work, and persistence through the rough years to keep pushing on no matter what. With Tempranillo, among many others being so darn happy in our climate, the future of Texas wine is endless and the story is still being written every time a consumer pops the cork on their favorite bottle of Texas wine.
Since Alamosa Wine Cellars is closing it’s doors, now is your chance, YES YOU, to purchase wines that will never again be produced. Once they are gone, they will be sold out for good. The assets of the company are for sale, but the Alamosa name and wines will not be part of the transaction. I urge each and every one of you to make the trip to Bend, Texas to grab a glass, swirl it and experience what Alamosa Wine Cellars has to offer one last time, or at least once altogether if you have never visited before. You will be delighted you did once you sit on the front porch and take in a deep breath of fresh Hill Country air at 1,200 feet of elevation. Glance at the sunset, listen to the vine foliage rustle in the wind, all while sipping on 750 ml of Texas Wine history.
It is not often I let my emotions get the best of me, but this story has struck a chord deep inside my soul. It is not everyday you feel like you are experiencing something so very special, but this particular sit down with Jim and Karen is a visit I will never forget. I have helped them bottle, chatted with them on Facebook, and tasted lovely wines from their program before, but this time was special… It was the last time I would ever sit in their tasting room with the two of them as an operating winery. Farewell to a jewel in the Texas Hill Country, and cheers to a wonderful and exciting retirement for the Johnsons!
Sip, savor, and enjoy my fellow aficionados.