We try to visit our favorite wineries and visit new wineries every chance we get. Having recently visited the Hill Country and East Texas, it was time to make our trek to north Texas. North Texas turns out to be about a once a year trip, perhaps because it is a five hour drive to the furthest winery from Houston.
Gloria and I left home early on a Saturday and got to our first visit of the day, Sugar Ridge Winery in Sanger. This was a second location for Sugar Ridge Winery so we were already aware of their wines and owner Don Andrews confirmed they only make sweet wines before we started our tasting. It is always nice seeing people we have met before and this was no exception. It is also nice seeing small towns get a Texas winery and then the winery to be supported by the locals. Sanger was no exception and the tasting room is doing well.
Not much further up the road was Firelight Vineyards in Valley View. Laurie Ware was able to visit soon after they opened in 2015 and wrote about the winery. Now it was our turn to visit. I had met owner and winemaker Meredith Eaton briefly at the TWGGA Conference, but unfortunately she was not yet at the winery when we visited. We did have a nice tasting though and visited a little with her mother who was helping at the winery. The good news is the winery has been doing great since they opened because there are some wines that are already sold out. Fortunately, there are neighboring wineries who have worked with Firelight Vineyards to fill out their tasting menu.
It was on to Arché north of Saint Jo. The last time we visited the winery, they had just built the new tasting room but it was still unfinished, so we were excited to see the finished tasting room. We were not disappointed and we could easily hang out at Arché if we lived nearby. One of the benefits of going to the TWGGA Conference is you get to meet people you have seen before, and we had met Howard, Amy, and Grayson Davies there, so it had not been long since we had seen them. We enjoyed a tasting with winemaker Grayson providing some tank samples, and oh, they were good. Texas is not supposed to be able to make good Chardonnay, but what we tasted certainly busted that myth. It had turned out to be a nice weather day and Howard gave us a tour of the vineyard, especially since Gloria is now growing ten grape vines in our backyard. We had a fantastic visit at Arché and look forward to making our yearly trek again.
No visit to the Saint Jo area is complete without going around the “corner” and visiting Blue Ostrich Winery. People who live in Dallas-Fort Worth should definitely make a visit to both Arché and Blue Ostrich. We arrived a couple hours before the winery was to close and we enjoyed seeing Patrick and Julie Whitehead again. Surprising us when we arrived at the winery was winery visitor extraordinaire, Laurie Ware. She had been there to pick up a wine club shipment so we all enjoyed a tasting or glass of wine. Since the crowd was dwindling down, Patrick took us on a production tour and we got to sample from some barrels. Every time we visit Blue Ostrich, we enjoy our visit and of course the wines. We ended up closing the winery and went to dinner with the Whiteheads. It had been a great day in the “far north.”
Our usual north Texas winery visits on Sundays work out well because we can visit two wineries on the drive home. The first stop was Brushy Creek Vineyards and Winery because they open earlier on a Sunday. Owner and winemaker Les Constable was sitting on the front porch when we arrived and he came to greet us. He had to open up the winery portion so we headed to the tasting room. Tempranillo is a popular Texas wine and I would daresay that Brushy Creek makes the most varieties of Tempranillo than any other Texas winery. And as expected, out of the ones we tasted, they were all very good. Les came back to get us to come down to the winery below the tasting room where we met Rob Clinesmith again and tried a few wines from the barrels. It was another fun visit at Brushy Creek with their wide selection of Texas wines that sometimes are not typical of what others are producing.
After saying goodbye to everyone, we headed to nearby Marker Cellars. We had made an appointment ahead of time so Mark and Becky Rogers were waiting for us. The winery is small, but big in friendliness and good wines. Another tasting and barrel sample led us to the horses nearby. Gloria has always loved animals, so Becky had to show off one of the horses to her. The Rogers had to get ready for a wedding, so we packed up and headed on down the road.
It had been another great visit to the northern wineries and we’ll be looking forward to our next trip north.