A new winery tasting room will open this week in Fredericksburg. Texas Heritage Vineyard, owned by Billy and Susan Johnson of Fredericksburg. The winery will officially “soft” open Friday, May 4, 2018. The location is a good one, just at the eastern edge of Fredericksburg, facing 290 in the former Yee Haw Outfitters buildings. An extensive renovation is nearing completion to create a bright, open, and comfortable tasting room, with a large covered deck overlooking an impressive view of the Texas Hill Country to the south.
The key folks involved in Texas Heritage Vineyard include Susan and Billy Johnson, their son, Cody, their daughter, Jessica, and her husband, Jason Allen. Tyler Buddemeyer, an experienced Hill Country wine guy, will serve as vineyard manager supported by Cody and Jason. Marti Perkins will support Susan, Jessica, and the rest of the crew in the tasting room. Veteran winemaker John Rivenburgh was instrumental in getting the operation started and made most of the first set of wines to be released. John will continue to provide advice, counsel, and support going forward to Susan and Cody who will assume the full-time winemaking duties.
The actual winery location is southeast of Fredericksburg about 10 miles, on Grapetown Road off Old San Antonio Road, not far from The Tunnel State Park and well-known Alamo Springs hamburger joint. There is an impressive building to house winemaking operations with a large crush pad and ample storage for tanks, barrels, and finished goods. The vineyard currently consists of 11 acres planted with 3 more acres planned for next spring. Mostly red grapes are included in the plantings: Alicante Bouschet, Malbec, Tempranillo, Tannat, and Souzão. One acre of Viognier will be used to make an estate white wine, and the remainder of white grapes for Texas Heritage Vineyard wines will be purchased from selected growers on the Texas High Plains.
It was an honor for me to participate in a before-we-open tasting of the wines from Texas Heritage Vineyard. The plan was to gather a number of knowledgeable folks, taste the wines that are now bottled and ready for sale, and prepare tasting notes for the tasting room. In addition to eight folks noted above and me, Bill Kreitz joined us for the tasting experience. There was a lot of fun discussion and many useful tasting descriptions were generated. Below is the list of wines to be released when the tasting room opens. Note: The prices noted are projected but may change slightly when the tasting room opens.
- 2017 Orange Muscat Newsom Vineyards – Texas High Plains 13.5% ABV $24
- Darker gold color; honey and dried apricot aromas; basically, dry with hints of orange zest on a medium finish.
- 2017 Malvasia Bianca Narra Vineyards – Texas High Plains 12.9% ABV $27
- Bright floral, peach, and pear aromas; hints of kiwi and gooseberry fruit (sort of like Sauvignon Blanc); green baking apple and freshly mown alfalfa hay; soft, fairly light finish.
- 2017 Roussanne Hoover Valley Vineyard – Texas Hill Country 13.5% ABV $32
- Richer body and texture; aroma of buttered pineapple on the grill; some mango and cantaloupe fruit notes; rich on the palate as it flows to a long-lasting finish.
- 2017 Lizzie Rose’ Reddy Vineyard – Texas High Plains 12.8% ABV $30
- This is just lovely – named for Susan’s grandmother; strawberry cotton candy aromas; seems creamy on the palate with moderate acidity; a relatively easy, fun finish.
- 2016 Malbec Sprayberry Vineyards – Texas High Plains 13.5% ABV $36
- Ripe strawberry fruit aromas with notes of coconut, vanilla, and caramel; rather touched by oak with aromas of soft earth and new leather belt; nice, ripe tannins and a finish that shows the 18 months aging in used oak barrels.
- 2016 Merlot Sprayberry Vineyards – Texas High Plains 13.4% ABV $34
- Blackberry and black currant fruit aromas dominate the nose; there are some pretty baking spice notes and a strong impression of freshly cut cedar (or cedar cigar box); some lovely black cherry fruit shows up on the rich, medium tannic finish for this lightly filtered gem of a Merlot.
- 2016 Tempranillo Narra Vineyards – Texas High Plains 13.5% $38
- Very pretty fruit aromas – dried cherries, Craisins and cherry licorice; a gentle, yet expressive palate with silky tannins and a hint of Texas caliche road dust.
The concept and inspiration for Texas Heritage Vineyard really started when Susan Johnson enrolled in a “May-mester” wine course at the Texas Hill Country University Center in 2013. Dr. Ed Hellman was the instructor, and he took the class to a number of area wineries and vineyards to see their operations and taste their wines. Susan really enjoyed the experience, with the added benefit of getting to meet John Rivenburgh. That meeting grew into a connection and ultimately into John teaching her and helping her to make wines.
Susan and Billy took a trip to Napa Valley in 2014 and really got the bug to grow grapes and make wine. Susan then signed up for the two-year enology and viticulture program at the Texas Hill Country University Center, completing the certificate in 2016. They planted their first acre of grapes, Tempranillo, in 2014.
The tasting room facility is beautifully done and will serve visitors well. Upon entering the front door, there is a large tasting bar with decorative Edison lights, and a comfortable adjunct tasting area to the side. There is quite a bit of space towards the back of the large room. A smaller side room houses winery merchandise along with an impressive collection of corkscrews and wine bottle openers that Susan has collected over the years. Large windows form the back wall of the tasting room where one can see the large deck, the impressive fireplace, and that beautiful Hill Country view.
Jessica Allen, who has been working at 4.0 Cellars for several months to gain experience for tasting room activities, will assume the role of tasting room manager. Her sister will handle merchandise marketing and other tasting room duties.
There will be a wine club offered called the Original 300, an homage to the original 300 pioneers who helped settle and establish the future state of Texas. Cost of membership is a one-time, lifetime $300 fee that includes two “Original 300 Club” T-shirts and two lapel pins. A number of wine club benefits result, including priority invites to events, and first option on special wines, 15% discount on all wines and merchandise, discounts on ticketed events, and three wine club allocations per year.
Contact: Jessica@texasheritagevineyard.com 830-456-7267
Texas Heritage Vineyards promises to be a popular and pleasant addition to Wine Road 290. Include a stop here on your next visit to Fredericksburg and the Texas Hill Country.