A few weeks back, I started looking for accommodations for our regular excursion to Port Aransas. I spent time on the city’s main site to see who was back and open for business. I found a brand new establishment, Island Wine, due to open in mid-July. Though the island already has a wine bar and restaurant offering an extensive and interesting wine list, they and others carry few, if any, Texas wines. Island Wine fills that void.
Co-owners Lara White—who we meet—and Karen Bendily decided to bring a bit more Texas to the island. All wines sold come from Texas wineries. For the most part, they focus on local and smaller wineries. Local wineries include Texas SouthWind Vineyard & Winery and Winery on the Bay (as well as their other location, Winery on the Gruene). Most of the wine comes direct from the wineries (some through a distributor). They are looking to expand their menu; in fact, they received over a dozen sample wines in one week. They do have a few more popular wineries, such as Becker Vineyards, Duchman Family Winery, Fiesta Winery, Messina Hof, Fall Creek Vineyards, McPherson Cellars, and Llano Estacado Winery.
The wines offer an array of options, with about equal sweet and dry. Island Wine prefers offering less expensive wines. They offer a variety of wines by the glass as well. They only have a small amount available for tastings (two ounces!), mainly those on tap and sometimes open wines. They feature different wineries; they do special tastings of the featured winery and offer their wine by the glass. They often have a second featured winery with the wines available by the glass. And for those who don’t drink wine, they offer a selection of domestic and local beers.
In addition to wines, they carry other items. They offer plates, either all cheese or meat and cheese; however, since they offer little, they allow guests to bring in outside food. They sell olive oil made in Victoria, Texas, as well as a number of gifts. However, they focus on the wine, and most of the retail space is dedicated to the wine.
We came in early on a Friday Afternoon—not the most popular of times on the island (as most people are on the beach). As soon as we entered, Savannah White (Lara’s daughter) quickly greeted us and made us feel welcome. The large open space is friendly and comfortable. There are multiple seating options: at the bar, at high-top tables, in easy chairs, and on sofas. They have outside seating, but the heat and humidity made it less inviting. During our afternoon visit, quiet music played making it easy to have conversations. They also turned on the TV—silenced—to Shark Week programming.
While there, we relaxed after our long drive from San Antonio and enjoyed a glass of wine on tap (at the time, they had four wines, a red and white from Duchman, a rosé from Becker, and Gulf Breeze Sangria). The wine paired well with the cheese plate we ordered. While there, we could also play games. They have several games available for couples and groups, but we opted to not play at that time.
We came back on Saturday night to meet Lara and enjoy their Saturday night live music. Island Wine felt very different when we arrived. The main room was nearly full. Couples, families, and friends gathered to enjoy wine and one another’s company. We relaxed on one of the sofas and drank the Founder’s Blend from Pillar Bluff Vineyards. Several locals specifically came out to listen to the music. The music never got too loud. Again, the silenced TV had appropriate programming—people looking for beach properties.
Island Wine welcomes both locals and vacationers. They base their hours on their clientele, as island time changes with the seasons. It is best to check their website for current hours before visiting. Do not be afraid to bring a book, work, or games. The goal of Island Wine is to sit back, relax, and drink Texas wine.