As we previously reported, Driftwood Estate Winery won the Top Texas Wine of 2015 at the Houston Livestock and Rodeo International Wine Competition for its 2012 Longhorn Red. The Longhorn Red is a 50/50 blend of estate Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. I was invited to visit the winery to taste the winning Longhorn Red. I have always loved the view at Driftwood Estate Winery and missed getting to taste the wine at the Rodeo Uncorked! Roundup and Best Bites Competition this year, so I arranged with the winery for the next time I would be in the Driftwood area.
I arrived after driving up the winding road to the top of the hill where the winery overlooks the 16-acre estate vineyard. I had to first stop and take a photo of the view before I entered the tasting room.
In the tasting room, I met Laura Elliott who is the Director of Marketing for Driftwood Estate Winery. She welcomed me and said her father Gary Elliott would be with me soon. I had expected to do perhaps just a regular tasting with the Longhorn Red as the finishing wine, but here I was going to get the opportunity to talk to the owner/winemaker of Driftwood Estate.
Gary arrived and said, “Let’s go to the winery.” I haven’t had the chance to see the production area of the winery before so this was going to be fun. We first went to the adjoining production area with the stainless steel tanks. Gary made sure I had brought a wine glass with me from the tasting room, so we first sampled an Orange Muscat from a tank that he had filtered the day before. He had been pleased with the progress so far and I couldn’t argue. Bottle it! I have had dry Orange Muscat before and thought this one was a little dry, but Gary said it had 5 RS (residual sugar). Anything under 3 RS is considered dry, so this could be considered an off-dry.
A visit to the lab was next where I saw the pride of the winery in the FOSS machine that analyzes wine and gives a full lab spectrum. These machines are not inexpensive which explains why Gary said there are only four in Texas: his, Bending Branch Winery, Pedernales Cellars, and Llano Estacado Winery.
The winery had recently built a new building to give more storage and this is primarily where the barrel storage is including finished wines. We walked to the building, which is located behind the winery, and it was indeed a large building that will give plenty of room for the winery to grow. We tasted the 2012 estate Sangiovese from a French barrel that will be used in blending.
The grapes grown at the estate vineyard are Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Sangiovese, Chenin Blanc, Viognier, and Chardonnay. From the 16 acres of vineyard, they got 60 tons of grapes this year. All the wines at Driftwood Estate Winery are estate wines except three wines that are made with Newsom Vineyards grapes.
After the special tastings, we went back to the tasting room where Gary pulled out a Longhorn Red. We sat on the tasting room patio where we enjoyed tasting the award-winning wine and just talking about wine itself. I learned that Gary Elliott has a good sense of humor and he even told me a joke which I had to write down to share with you.
“What’s the difference between a French Army knife and a Swiss Army knife? Every blade in the French Army knife is a corkscrew.”
I had a great time at Driftwood Estate Winery and my time with Gary Elliott. I never got the chance to try the other current wines at the winery, so I will be making a return visit soon.