Dick and Ann Holmberg are the father and daughter team making the wonderful wine at Singing Water Vineyards. Dick and Julie Holmberg planted their first vines in 1998 and the winery opened in 2004. We met Dick and Ann Holmberg and they took the time to answer our questions for this month’s winemaker profile.
1. What did you do before becoming a winemaker (if anything)?
Dick: In my first life I worked for Exxon for 33 years in Marketing and Human Resource Management. Ann was a professional photographer.
2. What is the toughest challenge about being a winemaker in Texas?
The toughest challenge for a winemaker in Texas is consistent high quality grape supply. We are known to have late freezes, hail, torrential rains, and droughts. That makes the vineyard crop yields somewhat unpredictable.
3. Is winemaking an art or a science or both?
Dick: Winemaking is both an art and a science. You have to use good basic science but use of our senses to guide us is more of an art. Ann has a great palate.
4. What is your favorite food and wine pairing?
Our favorite food and wine pairing is beef tenderloin or Axis venison back strap paired with Singing Water Vintner’s Reserve Cab / Merlot blend. Another would be pairing a fresh lump crab salad with a chilled bottle of our Sauvignon Blanc.
5. If you didn’t make wine, what would you do?
Dick: If we didn’t make wine I would be fly fishing and traveling a lot more. Ann would be in the garden.
6. What first attracted you to winemaking and how long have you been doing it?
We have traveled to many grape growing regions in France, Italy, South Africa, California, Oregon, and Washington State. We had purchased property in the Texas Hill Country, then we started growing grapes and they were very nice. After a couple years a consultant said, “Don’t you want to make wine?” I said of course! Initially we just kept a barrel for personal use. Our friends said that would not be enough! In 2004 we were bonded as a commercial winery. We have enjoyed learning the art and science of winemaking ever since.
7. What is the most common question you are asked as a winemaker?
The most common question we are asked as a winemaker is: Do you think we can do this on our land too?
8. After a long day in the winery or vineyard, what do you do?
After a long day in the vineyard or winery we enjoy our closing ceremony with our “Wine Stars” (servers) in the tasting room as we close up and enjoy a glass of wine together.
9. What’s the greatest part about being a winemaker?
The greatest part about being a winemaker is staying abreast of new winemaking techniques and working with our great staff to deliver products our customers enjoy.
10. What is your winemaking philosophy, that is, what are you trying to achieve with your wines?
Our winemaking philosophy starts in the vineyard. We want high quality grapes to start with and then do the minimum amount of intervention getting them to the bottle, resulting in fresh, crisp, aromatic whites and dark, rich, fruity reds. And all at a good value to the customer.
11. Anything else you would like to add?
It is a great business, lots of fun, great people, but a little more work than most customers realize.