Welcome to Texas’ newest Hill Country winery, Southold Farm + Cellar, located off Ranch Road 2721 in Fredericksburg. This winery may be a little off Highway 290, however, it warrants your time to divert down the country road to visit. This tasting room perched atop a fantastic hilltop vantage point provides spectacular 365-degree views of the surrounding countryside for miles on end. One gets excited imagining the sunset views, dramatic starlit night skies, and peaceful breezes from this spot while enjoying a nice glass of wine.
Owners Regan and Carey Meador originally established their winery and vineyard in Southold, a town on the North Fork of Long Island, New York, where the couple were living in 2012. They used a kickstart campaign that made news in the Wall Street Journal to help fund their initial endeavors. They toiled the land planting 9 of the 24 acres at that location with some lesser known varietals, producing both white and red wines with a good reputation. However, changes in the local climate towards vineyards and zoning rules contributed to additional headaches, which helped the couple revisit their vision and plans, and choose to change gears and relocate their business in Texas. For Regan, this was moving full circle back to his home state where the bustling wine industry and vineyards are growing exponentially.
Vines are not yet in the ground as this vineyard estate is still under construction. Much has happened in the whirlwind of events that found them moving to Texas and setting up shop within the last six months. Land was purchased and the building began in March. Their production facility sits just below the tasting room out of sight from the hilltop. They are currently getting tanks delivered and are busy getting to the work required to get their Texas production facilities up and running.
Thursday, August 17, they welcomed local industry professionals to stop by and visit, which was followed by their official opening on Friday, August 18. The ground is being cleared this fall for the hillside vineyard with plans to begin planting 20 acres on the property with vines descending the 20-degree hillside slope. Planting is currently scheduled for the northern facing spots next spring without trellising, as the plants will be spaced farther apart to help ensure adequate air flow and help create the less invasive and minimal intervention approach that Regan takes in the vineyard. With hillside plantings, the desire is to allow the plants to grow and truly find the sweet spot in highlighting the terroir of the land and varietals in the wine. There are also plans for vines further in the Edwards Plateau in Sonora, Texas, and the High Plains.
The varietals they are focusing on will be higher acid and lower density Rhône and Greek varietals with the intent on producing high quality fruit, which should translate into stellar wines that cellar for aging and pair nicely with food. If you are a lover of heavily oaked wines, take note, that this winery is not a fan of that approach to winemaking. Instead think of low touch wines with little filtration, little to no commercial yeast added, aged in more neutral barrels and whole clusters with stem inclusion in the fermentation. The vineyard will be dry farmed for lower yields, and lovingly tended and hand worked to ensure that the vines have every opportunity to produce their best fruit.
Regan is happy about the direction that Texas wine is taking and how cultural practices will be changing. “The next five years will be a different ballgame. We’re at a place where we will continue to see how production and growing practices evolve as we learn what is working in this region of the state, and realize what we can and cannot do with the vines and our production process.” The desire is to showcase the grapes and allow the vines to do their thing, rather than try to force them in a direction they are not inclined to go on their own. He is excited about the wines he will be making here with the opportunity to add “electricity to them with acid and lower alcohol, yet the flavor is there.”
The wines currently available in the tasting room are from their original winery. Eight wines are offered featuring both whites and reds crafted from an organic New York vineyard and estate fruit from their former vineyard. The varietals highlighted include:
- 2014 Sauvignon Blanc
- 2015 Carbonic Cabernet Franc
- 2015 Sparkling Lagrein (think dry Lambrusco)
- 2015 Farrm Vineyard Cabernet Franc
- 2015 Lagrein
- 2015 Farrm Vineyard Red Blend featuring Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Merlot
- 2015 Teroldego (their first)
- 2014 Farrm Vineyard red blend featuring Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot
Please plan a trip to visit these fine folks. Call ahead to schedule your tasting appointment and stop in and welcome them to the neighborhood as you take in the scenic hilltop venue. Delight in the different varietals not often found in this region that they currently feature, and enjoy their style of winemaking. We believe you will agree with us that this is going to be something special, and this quiet spot of the Hill Country is destined for exceptional wine making adventures ahead. So, follow the old country road to this little piece of Hill Country heaven and see for yourself.