Thinking about gifting a Texas wine this holiday season? Five of the state’s top Texas winemakers share their favorite Texas wines – most under $50 – to bring to a holiday gathering or share as a gift.
The winemakers from the Texas Fine Wine group recommend a wine from their respective wineries along with another favorite Texas wine. Cheers!
Todd Webster, Brennan Vineyards
The winemaker at Brennan Vineyards in Comanche since 2010, Webster learned his craft on the job as well as through the Texas Tech Viticulture and Washington State Viticulture programs.
Webster selects the Brennan Vineyards Tempranillo 2014 ($35) for his favorite wine to take to a holiday gathering. This medium-bodied red wine (tart blackberries, black cherries, leather, and pipe tobacco) is so versatile and goes great with steak, turkey, or ham.
Webster recommends Calais Winery Cuvee de Gaston 2015 ($30), a dry rosé that is the perfect accompaniment to holiday dishes. Webster notes that CALAIS Winery, a boutique winery in Hye whose winemaker Ben Calais is originally from France, may not be well known to the masses, but is very well respected by people in the know.
David Kuhlken, Pedernales Cellars
A Rice University and UT McCombs School of Business graduate, Kuhlken got into wine when his parents started growing grapes in Texas in the 1990s. Learning from some of Texas’ pioneers, Kuhlken has mentored several of the state’s up-and-coming winemakers.
For gifting, Kuhlken is partial to the very food-friendly Pedernales GSM 2014 (medium-bodied with aromas of raspberry, fennel, and mushroom; $26) or the winery’s flagship Tempranillo Reserve 2014 (cherry, raspberry notes with hints of licorice and sage; $50).
When looking at other Texas wines, Kuhlken recommends the Perissos Vineyards Aglianico 2013 ($50). Kuhlken is impressed with Burnet-based Perissos Vineyards’ wines, made by owner Seth Martin, which are very well crafted and highlights the strong estate program.
Dave Reilly, Duchman Family Winery
A native Texan, Reilly got his start making wine in 2006 at Duchman, taking over the helm as head winemaker in 2008. Reilly’s winemaking philosophy is succinct, “I strive to make wines that are true to their varietal character using the highest quality grapes grown only in Texas”.
Reilly’s go-to holiday wine is the Duchman Family Winery Vermentino ($20), a crisp, clean white wine with citrus and floral notes that goes with everything from seafood to turkey.
The non-Duchman wine he would show up with at a party is Pedernales Cellars‘ Valhalla 2012, which Reilly says is “nicely structured and pairs well with a lot of foods.” Not yet for sale at Pedernales, this wine is intended to be a blend allowing winemaker David Kuhlken to experiment with new varieties and blends. This wine highlights some Italian varieties planted with Tempranillo, showing notes of plum, strawberry, spicy pepper, and cocoa.
Todd Crowell, Spicewood Vineyards
A native Texan and Texas A&M grad, Crowell has been making wines for Spicewood Vineyards since 2012, after spending 12 years making wines at White Oak Vineyards & Winery, Stonestreet Winery and Christopher Creek Winery in Sonoma County. While he brings a scientific approach to winemaking, Crowell’s philosophy is that making great wine starts in the vineyard.
Crowell would bring Spicewood Vineyards 2015 Tempranillo Rosé ($25) to a holiday gathering because it’s festive, pairs with everything, and “while people may not admit it, they love rosé wines.”
When it comes to other Texas wines, Crowell selects the Brennan Vineyards Cellar Select Viognier ($25), the state’s first “orange wine.” “It’s a great conversation piece and a really interesting winemaking style.” Crowell loves the structure of this white wine that can stand up to rich casseroles and heartier foods served during the holidays.
Robert W. Young, M.D., Bending Branch Winery
Owner and winemaker who founded Bending Branch Winery in 2009, Young completed the Winemaker Certification Program at the University of California Davis. He enjoys working with red wines that have bold tannins.
Young’s favorite holiday wine is the 2011 Tannat CM from Bending Branch Estate Vineyards ($110). It was the first wine that Young experimented with cryomaceration fermentation, and it won the Top Texas award at the 2014 Houston Rodeo Uncorked! International Wine Competition.
For gifting, Young suggests Newsom Vineyards Inception ($45). The rustic blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese is one of the inaugural wines under the Newsom label. The family, best known as pioneers of growing grapes in Texas, recently opened a tasting room in Comfort.