The ever elusive winery known as The 501 Winery located in Childress has been found! Several years ago we tried to visit this winery on one of our trips that took us out that direction and everything we saw showed that it was closed. Everyone we spoke to was also in consensus. However, we did not give up since I have noticed recently that their Facebook page is very active. We had an opportunity to travel through Childress on our way to visit a friend in the Texas panhandle and decided we would give it another try. We found their “new” address to be off the highway a few blocks and located their tasting room on the square. Alas, it was a Sunday afternoon and…you guessed it…they were closed. BUT the good news is we saw definite signs that there was an active wine business in the building!! So, we made notes of the days they are open and we pinky-swore we would stop NO MATTER WHAT on our way home Tuesday!!
On our way home, we pulled off the main drag and around to the back side of one of the ugliest courthouses in the state of Texas. Disclaimer: I did some quick research and “back in its day” it was a very pretty courthouse before it burned. It looks like they only repaired it enough to make it functional again.
Anyway, we pulled up and there was a car in front and the sign definitely said “OPEN”!! WOOHOOO!!! SUCCESS!!! We stepped inside and found managers Neil and Karlene Barber behind the tasting bar finishing up a sale with a couple. While we waited for our turn, I walked around and looked at the items for sale in the gift shop area and at the pictures on the wall of the beautiful 501 1800’s era steam engine that the winery is named for.
As Shelly and I stepped up to the tasting bar, another gentleman stepped into the winery and we welcomed him to join us. After a little introductory conversation, Karlene found out we are mostly dry red wine drinkers. She asked him what his preferences were and he decided that he would just follow our lead. We promised we wouldn’t steer him astray. She knew just how to direct us. We tried two dry whites and two dry reds. They are currently out of their Viognier and two of their reds, Tempranillo and Sangiovese, so we will just have to come back and try them. As it was, we had a hard time narrowing our choices down, and we still came home with half a case!
These were some of the wines which were available:
- White Diamond (Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Chardonnay)
- Debutante (Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc)
- Iron Horse (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Sangiovese)
- Circle B Ranch (Ruby Cabernet and Sangiovese)
- Buck Creek Select (Ruby Cabernet and Sangiovese)
During our tasting, Karlene was telling us about a wine sample they had just received. The way she was describing it, it sounded luscious and before we knew it she was pouring us a sample in our glass. Oh, oh, oh, oh!!!!! I’ve been sworn to secrecy, but just know they have something fun and special that will be released relatively soon. I may have to make my first online order to be shipped!
While we were tasting, Karlene and Neil told us all the fruit comes from Adam and Amy Bishop’s vineyard there in the Childress area and most of the wines were made and bottled at the custom crush facility in Brownfield. It turns out the Bishops actually own The 501.
The gift shop has some cute kitchen grape themed items and some food items are available to eat on site or take with you. Just past the tasting room is a wonderful ballroom-style event center that is a great space for parties and receptions.
Tastings are performed standing at the tasting bar and you can select four wines for a complimentary tasting, six wines for a fee, or six wines and a 501 wine glass for a higher fee. The bottle wine prices are very reasonable as are the by the glass prices.
I highly recommend and encourage a trip to Childress to visit this winery. We didn’t get to talk about the history of the building, but I’m sure it also has a great story to tell.