Square Cloud Winery is a labor of love for Jackson and Cheryl Anderson. Driven by their deep desire to showcase their Gunter, Texas vineyards, the Andersons make wines that reflect their Texoma AVA location. I had the privilege of helping harvest grapes at Square Cloud one July morning, and I returned later to taste through their wines. Both experiences left me wanting to return for more wine tasting, education, and conversation.
Square Cloud Winery is located just off 289 near the southern border of Grayson County. The winery was licensed in 2011 and first produced wines in 2015. Wines can carry the Texoma AVA label, unlike several of their closest winery neighbors just a few miles to the south. On the 25-acre property where cows once grazed, there are 10 acres of vines planted. A sign in the tasting room highlights the large number of varieties planted. You’ll find unique grapes from Kerner and Ortega to Cabernet Franc and Syrah. Jackson has a particular affinity to white aromatic grapes. He wants the fruit to shine, and his winemaking choices bring forth plenty of delicious, fruity aromas.
I have always wanted to work a grape harvest, and I got my wish in July. The Facebook page for Square Cloud Winery posted a request for harvest helpers. So at 5:30 a.m. on a Saturday, I departed my home in Dallas to make the 50-minute drive north through Frisco, Prosper, and Celina to Gunter, Texas. The winery was easy to find, and Jackson greeted me in the tasting room. The other four volunteers present, like me, were completely inexperienced pickers. After Jackson shared brief instructions, he led us to the rows of Kerner and turned us loose.
The difficulty in harvesting seems to be directly correlated with the amount of leaf coverage, or canopy, that covers the fruit. With some varieties, it was difficult to see the grape bunches until the canopy was pushed away. We made several passes to be sure that all of the beautiful fruit was picked. It was also important that we keep our cutting tools clean. Each of us dipped our cutting tool into a jar of an alcohol solution when moving between vines to keep any vine diseases from spreading. The time flew by as I talked with other wine lovers about local wineries, trips to wine growing regions, wine certification programs, and more. Cool rains fell and brought welcome breezes. Jackson worked to prepare the press, and Cheryl carefully weighed each bucket of grapes. Ultimately, our harvest team picked over a ton of white grapes including Kerner, Chardonnay, and Malvasia Bianca. Later, we enjoyed lunch and a glass of wine with the appreciative Andersons. I received a very cool Harvest Crew t-shirt and many thanks for a job well done.
It is always a treat to meet and taste with winery owners and winemakers. You are guaranteed to do both at Square Cloud Winery. The Andersons personally operate the tasting room, and they are educators at heart. They want the winery to be a place where everyone, regardless of previous wine experience, can feel comfortable and ask questions. Visiting during harvest will likely result in tasting wines that are in various stages of completion. I was able to taste Ortega that had been pressed a week prior. The winery is a rich learning environment, and visitors should expect some interesting stories from Jackson and Cheryl.
Current offerings on the tasting menu include a Malvasia Bianca, two Tempranillos, a late harvest Roussanne, and two Cabernet Franc-based dessert wines. A Syrah-Tempranillo blend and other selections will join this lineup in time. All wines are produced from estate fruit, and tastings are free.
Watch for future events and announcements from Square Cloud Winery. The Andersons have plans to introduce a wine club in the future, and there will be more opportunities to help harvest in 2019. Follow the Square Cloud Winery Facebook page for updates.