Les Constable is the owner and winemaker of Brushy Creek Vineyards and Winery. Brushy Creek is located in Alvord and first opened in 2002. Les has been instrumental in using grape varieties that nobody has tried yet. In addition, the wines of Brushy Creek are always award winners. Les Constable answered this month’s winemaker profile questions.
- What did you do before becoming a winemaker (if anything)?
I joined the Navy and was picked up and trained to be a nuclear reactor operator on submarines. I served 8.5 years in the Navy, then got out and went to the University of Florida and got a Degree in Nuclear Engineering. I then worked for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission until I retired with about 30 years’ government service.
- What is the toughest challenge about being a winemaker in Texas?
Cash flow, spring freeze, and weather in general.
- Is winemaking an art or a science or both?
Mostly science, but with so many variables, it sometimes is more romantic to simply say art because the science is so complicated.
- What is your favorite food and wine pairing?
I see food and wine pairing as a fun adventure, but I also do not have a particular favorite. Good food and good wine, along with good music pair well and create interesting sensations.
- If you didn’t make wine, what would you do?
Travel to drink wine and eat great food, and enjoy learning about human history.
- What first attracted you to winemaking and how long have you been doing it?
My dad served in WWII and ended the war guarding German Prisoners of War in Burgundy, France. He came home to West Virginia and I remember wine and beer making in our cellar as a young child. I especially enjoyed the Apple Jack we made. Fermentation Science has always been of interest to me. I started making wine as a hobby in 1965 and was also enjoying some of the best wines in the world about that time. I first made wine from Texas grapes in 1991.
- What is the most common question you are asked as a winemaker?
Can we stomp some grapes?
- After a long day in the winery or vineyard, what do you do?
Go to bed.
- What’s the greatest part about being a winemaker?
The look on faces when their expectations have been exceeded. Also, I like the challenge on a lot of levels. It keeps me alive and active.
- What is your winemaking philosophy, that is, what are you trying to achieve with your wines?
Make wine as good as it can be made exclusively from grapes grown in Texas. I like showing that we can make great wine from Texas grapes.
- Anything else you would like to add?
Education and experience is super important. I have a degree in Winemaking and Grape Growing from the Munson Center and have attended classes at UC Davis plus many seminars and short courses. The first book I read was Philip Wagner’s book. I have attended classes taught by Robert Mondavi.