Monty Dixon is the owner and winemaker of Bar Z Winery located in Canyon, north of Lubbock. It may be a drive from Lubbock and the rest of Texas, but it is worth is as Monty produces excellent 100% Texas wines. We are fortunate to present Monty Dixon as this month’s winemaker profile.
- What did you do before becoming a winemaker (if anything)?
My family is in the cattle business, agriculture, farming, and ranching, and I rode a horse most days.
- What is the toughest challenge about being a winemaker in Texas?
First off, it’s convincing other people we actually have wine in Texas. I think one of the biggest challenges is making people believe in Texas wines, that we have overcome a lot of obstacles, and we have as good a quality as you can find out there.
- Is winemaking an art or a science or both?
Both. The art of it is tasting it, and you’re having to in your mind understand what’s going on and where things are at, and what you may or may not need to do to it. It’s like lobbing a rock. You throw the rock and it’s going to take it three, four, or five years to land. If you want it to hit on a certain mark, that’s winemaking.
- What is your favorite food and wine pairing?
Wine and food.
- If you didn’t make wine, what would you do?
I’d probably be on a horse every day.
- What first attracted you to winemaking and how long have you been doing it?
The original attraction was a friend of mine and I when we were quite young, began making wine because we found they wouldn’t sell us any beer. It may have been lousy, but it had alcohol in it. We were 12 or 13 when we started with our wine project.
- What is the most common question you are asked as a winemaker?
At the winery, no matter how busy I look, no matter what’s going on, there’s always that person that thinks that you have all the time in the world, and they ask, “So, how did you get into this? How did you get into the wine business? What made you do it?”
I could be running through the building with my arms on fire, and someone’s going to stop me and ask me that question. That’s a very common question.
Another one is, “What part of California do you get your grapes from?”
- After a long day in the winery or vineyard, what do you do?
Hopefully go to bed.
- What’s the greatest part about being a winemaker?
Watching the wines evolve. It starts out with a grape, watching them evolve, and go to the finished product. But the best part is when people drink them, and you see their face as they derive enjoyment from them. Especially, the surprised look on people who don’t know about Texas wines, and they’re shocked how good they are. That’s the best part, converting people to go, “Ah-ha. Hey, these wines don’t suck.”
- What is your winemaking philosophy, that is, what are you trying to achieve with your wines?
I guess it’s evolved over the years. Initially, it was of course, I just wanted to make good wines. But now it is to show the world that Texas can be a world class winemaking and growing state.
- Anything else you would like to add?
To the outside world, we’re still just a couple paragraphs in a wine book, so we haven’t gained a lot of progress in that regard. But I do appreciate it when I see outside interest from those people whose opinions matter.