The Austin Winery has been operating in Austin since 2014. Cooper Anderson has been the winemaker while co-owner Ross McLauchlan is the CEO and President. The winery started out like most Texas wineries making wines from non-Texas fruit, but lately has been adding more Texas wines to their inventory. The winery outgrew their first location and moved to a new location earlier in 2017. It has always been a pleasure to visit The Austin Winery and visiting both Ross and Cooper, so it is our privilege this month to bring you the winemaker profile featuring Cooper Anderson.
- What did you do before becoming a winemaker (if anything)?
I have been in the wine industry since right after college graduation. I have worked in tasting rooms at Driftwood Estate Winery and Duchman Family Winery. I was also warehouse manager at a winery equipment store for about a year.
- What is the toughest challenge about being a winemaker in Texas?
In my opinion, the toughest challenge about being a winemaker in Texas is dealing with unpredictability. Anyone who has spent significant time here knows just how volatile our weather can be. I try not to get my hopes up about any vintage until the fruit hits the winery floor, because Mother Nature can throw you a curve ball at any minute. To consistently make wine here, means you need to be agile and understand how to manipulate your fermentation or adjust techniques to handle a variable product.
- Is winemaking an art or a science or both?
Knowing how to take grapes and produce wine relies on a scientific understanding. Being able to produce wine that suits the taste of a particular wine drinking market, now that’s an art.
- What is your favorite food and wine pairing?
One of my favorites was a watermelon slice coated with cayenne powder and dusted with fresh mint served with a Gewürztraminer. Mostly I just want something that would bring together two things in an unexpected way.
- If you didn’t make wine, what would you do?
Soccer is my other love. If not for winemaking, I think I would get involved in coaching.
- What first attracted you to winemaking and how long have you been doing it?
The opportunity to make things for a living. It is incredibly gratifying putting something in bottle and getting punctuation on a product that took years to make and tons of labor. I have been in the wine industry since 2010, but didn’t start to make my own wine until 2012.
- What is the most common question you are asked as a winemaker?
Because I still serve in the tasting room, I hear this one all the time, “What got you into this?” I think people expect that there is some Hollywood type romantic story behind it, but the truth is I was just too curious to stop learning and had to have a crack at it myself.
- After a long day in the winery or vineyard, what do you do?
After a good day in the winery, I love to cook. I don’t stock up on foods, so I go to the grocery store with embarrassing frequency. I like to drop in with no plan. Typically, I grab the first thing I see that inspires me and build a meal around it.
- What’s the greatest part about being a winemaker?
The greatest part about being a winemaker is the gratification of bottling a good wine after so much work. I like to compare that feeling to the feeling you get on the last day of school.
- What is your winemaking philosophy, that is, what are you trying to achieve with your wines?
It’s not about terroir and it’s not about fruit. It’s about you. My winemaking philosophy is to start with a customer in mind. I always ask who am I making this wine for and what do they want out of it? If I meet the demands of the wine drinker then I’ll have done my job.
- Anything else you would like to add?
We aim to make Texas wine more accessible and more affordable. We don’t want to be about reservations and expensive bottles. I do offer a wide range of price points if you’re looking for higher tier stuff, but I want you to drink Texas instead of west coast wines on a random Tuesday movie night, just as much as I want you to on a special occasion with a fancy meal.