Whitley Vineyards is owned and operated by Gina and Philip Whitley. Their winery is located in the historic district of downtown Montgomery at 401 College Street. They are open all days but Saturday for various hours. Most days they close at 7:00 p.m. except Sunday (6:00 p.m.) and Thursday (8:00 p.m.). Montgomery is located between Conroe and Navasota on State Highway 105. It is really just a short drive out of Conroe. While open now, their official Grand Opening will be in June.
When I first heard about Whitley Vineyards, I was happy to hear of another wine venue so close to Houston and really close to my Montgomery home. Especially to one that is committed to making good wine from Texas grapes. Whitley Vineyards opened their winery to the public on April 27, 2017, and I knew I would be there for opening day. They are opening their facility as a “wine bar” to represent a sense of community in the Montgomery area, and as a place for residents and visitors to feel like they can wander in, grab a glass of wine (or a tasting!), and hang out with friends and family.
For a fee, a tasting can consist of all six of their current offerings, or a smaller flight of three wines of your choice. A wine glass is included with the tasting of six wines. Tastings can be at a sitting bar, tables, or in a well decorated and comfortable lounge area. Pours are approximately one ounce from an open bottle. Rhonda, our server, was very educated about the wines and didn’t hesitate to explain what she knew about the wines, and really gave good advice to my wife as to what to taste in her three wine flight.
Even though in name they are a winery, they are kid friendly. They are all about family, therefore kids are welcome. Due to their location in town, they are not set up to be pet friendly.
Gina Whitley was gracious and provided a lot of information both before and during our visit. Her journey to wine began when she worked as a quality manager and as a ISO 9001 Quality Management System lead auditor falling in love with the manufacturing and production processes, taking raw goods and turning them into a finished product. During this time, she developed a passion for wine, and decided to change from a career in the oil and gas industry to a career in the wine industry. Her goal was to own her own winery and produce her own brand of wine. Rolling her past experience in systems and production with her passion for wine, she and her husband opened Whitley Vineyards.
I was curious as to why they chose Montgomery as a location for a wine business and vineyard location. It was as simple as it being a place they fell in love with and could see raising a family there. They’ve been in Montgomery for 25 years and Gina wanted her company to be in the town they lived in.
The name Whitley Vineyards, while of course being a family name, encompasses Gina’s dream of opening a winery and the fact that many family and friends have latched on to the same dream. She and Philip hope that it will be a long-term family focus that will pass on for many generations. You know right away when you visit, this is true as several of the Whitey clan are working and helping in the endeavor.
The six wines currently in their portfolio are all Texas fruit from the High Plains. They are in the process of planting a vineyard of Blanc du Bois and Black Spanish just outside of Montgomery. The vines are currently rootstock to be planted next spring. The wine is currently produced by a contract winemaker, but as you talk with Gina, you know right away that the wines reflect her style and tastes. The back and forth communication with the winemaker is borne out in the end product which Gina is very proud of. After tasting myself, it’s not misplaced pride.
Gina is currently enrolled in the prestigious UC Davis Winemaking Certification Program and depending on growth, plans on making a portion of the wine once the production facility is up and running. The goal is to be making all the wine Whitley produces. She also recently graduated from the Conrad N. Hilton College at the University of Houston with a B.S. in Hotel and Restaurant Management specializing in wine and spirits management.
Six wines are currently available for tasting:
- Blanc du Bois – Dry
- Sweet Muscat Canelli
- Rosé (Grenache) – Dry
- Cabernet Sauvignon
- Red Blend – Dry
- Sweet Red Blend
Whitley Vineyards is a family owned and operated company and in their own words are “focused on continued growth and longevity with a foundation built on core values, leadership, teamwork, integrity, and quality.” Their future plans are to develop a destination winery with a fully operational production facility onsite, a tasting room, formal wine bar, event center, and tours. All located among the oaks overlooking the vineyard.