Llano Estacado Winery just celebrated their 40th anniversary in 2016 and they have a lot to brag about! They are the largest, best-selling premium winery in Texas and have come a long way since they first opened their doors in 1976. Texas Wine Lover first visited Llano Estacado in 2012 and has seen some exciting events take place.
My honey and I visited the winery on a cold day. There was still snow on the ground, but it was an amazing visit! Thank you to Mike Laughlin, Director of Hospitality, for being a most gracious host. I learned so much about the winery and their winemaking processes. Llano Estacado’s new and innovative ideas keep them at the forefront of this challenging wine industry. I’m proud to add that Llano Estacado gives back to our community by partnering with Texas Tech with the Red Raider line of wines. A portion of the sales helps support the Texas Tech Alumni Association and The Texas Wine Marketing Research Institute at Texas Tech. Llano Estacado has been a pioneer in introducing not just Texans, but the world…to great wines made right here in Texas.
Where were you in 1976? I was right here in the Lubbock area, but I wasn’t old enough to drink wine.
Here’s a look at how far they’ve come:
- 1976 – Llano Estacado Winery is founded by Dr. Clinton McPherson and Dr. Robert Reed, along with Dr. Roy Mitchell of Texas Tech and other investors
- 1977 – 1,300 cases produced
- 1980 – Produces 6000 cases
- 1983 – Replaced all its equipment with state-of-the-art (for it’s time) tanks, crushers, and other equipment in order to expand and make better wines
- 1985 – Producing 15,000 cases. Walter Haimann arrived. A former President of Seagram Distillers, Haimann would add his industry expertise and steer the winery to new heights.
- 1986 – Llano Estacado is awarded the very rare “Double Gold” Medal at the prestigious San Francisco Fairs International Wine Competition for their 1984 Chardonnay
- Between 1985 and 1993, Llano continued to increase production and win awards internationally
- 1993 – Producing 45,000 cases. Haimann convinced 3rd generation California winemaker Greg Bruni to relocate to Lubbock and take over winemaking and production responsibilities as a V.P.
- 1994 – Haimann brought in industry veteran Mark Hyman to become V.P. Sales & Marketing
- 1999 – Mark Hyman grew to Executive Vice President
- 2001 – Hyman becomes President/COO
- 2007 – Bill Freidhof heads up Sales & Marketing
- 2008 – Hyman becomes CEO. Pegi Saran heads up Finance and Administration.
- 2015 – Llano opened its gorgeous new tasting room and conference room in June 2015 and the event center opened in September 2015
- 2016 – Llano Estacado Winery celebrates 40 years and produces 170,000 cases
Llano Estacado currently has about 60 wines and utilizes grapes that are grown locally. Llano Estacado has received so many awards, that if I listed them all here, you would be here for hours. Some of their award winners are: 1836, Cabernet, Raider Cabernet and Cellar Reserve Cabernet, Chardonnay and Cellar Reserve Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, Malbec, Merlot and Cellar Reserve Merlot, Muscat Canelli, Pinot Grigio and Pinot Grigio Wine Club, Port – Cellar Select, Riesling, Sangiovese, Signature White, Cellar Reserve Tempranillo and Raider Tempranillo, Viviana, and Zinfandel.
Most of their wines can be shipped (to approved states) but I highly recommend going to the winery for a tour and tasting (three tasting levels: complimentary, premium, and reserve). They currently have about 30 different wines in the tasting room…and some of those wines are ONLY AVAILABLE IN THE TASTING ROOM. They also offer several kinds of specialty gourmet foods, wine accessories, and other lovely gifts. They can even make custom labels for their wines, such as the wedding ring label. They can now host private events in their new tasting room or banquet room. Contact them at [email protected].
As I mentioned before, Llano Estacado produces about 60 wines, but this article spotlights the 40th Anniversary Rubino, which is a Texas Red Wine. The label says it all: “Celebrating The Past, The Present and The future.” The 2013 Rubino Montepulciano, Reddy Vineyards, Texas High Plains, is rich with flavors of black cherry, mocha (yum!), and spice with underlying earthy complexity.
Mark your calendars for at least one of their events this year. Their website is in the process of being revamped. Check back often for updates.
Wine and Chocolate Fantasia
The Llano Wine & Chocolate Fantasia was created to promote interaction among culinarians, foster alliances for students, give culinarians in the South Plains area the opportunity to gain experience in a competitive setting, and expose the public to an original event which they will not soon forget. Wine & Chocolate Fantasia is a competition amongst local chefs, professionals, and amateurs. Llano Estacado Winery will be pouring a selection of wines throughout the evening and there will be live music as well.
Date: February 11, 6:30 – 8:30 pm
20th Annual Wine & Clay Festival
Enjoy a glass of Llano Estacado wine while you browse through the handcrafted works by local clay guild artists.
Date: June 10-11
When the vines are ripe for the harvest, the “Hub City” celebrates with Grape Day. This event is the perfect opportunity to expand your palate and try new varietals as wines are sold as a taste or by the glass.
Date: October 14
See y’all there!