Caudalie Crest Farm & Vineyard opened in 2010, and Ray Verrill has been making the wine since the opening. The winery is in Celina which is north of Dallas and is becoming a great place to go for Texas wine. We have seen Ray Verrill down in the Texas Hill Country at wine festivals the past couple years showcasing his Rosé wines. So, we are happy to showcase Ray Verrill as this month’s winemaker profile.
- What did you do before becoming a winemaker (if anything)?
My previous career was in I.T. I helped found a technology business that developed communications products. From there I moved to restaurant technology developing solutions for the largest international restaurant chain in the world; that’s what brought my family and me to America.
- What is the toughest challenge about being a winemaker in Texas?
The weather. When you look at the impact of Texas weather on our industry, it has the potential to compromise fruit, damage vines, and destroy entire vineyards. It can introduce a number of pathogens into the vineyard that further degrade the quality of our fruit. And then there is the tasting room impact – it is one of the biggest influences on causing our customers to stay home.
- Is winemaking an art or a science or both?
I have said for many years that it is more than art and science. To me, making wine is the coming together of Artistry, Chemistry, and Alchemy. As winemakers, we all add a little bit of magic to turn our base products into something special.
- What is your favorite food and wine pairing?
I love to pair a sweeter white with Indian food. My favorite is Lamb Vindaloo with our TIWC 2017 Double Gold winner, Prairie Blossom.
- If you didn’t make wine, what would you do?
If I were to look at an alternative going forward, it would be music related. I love my guitars and would find a way to follow something within that area.
- What first attracted you to winemaking and how long have you been doing it?
It was so long ago. I actually made wine in the U.K. at school as part of a Rural Science project back in the early 70s. From there, like many winemakers, I continued with six-gallon wine projects utilizing local fruits and berries. I think the attraction was the interaction of yeast with sugar. I also made bread for many years. But ultimately, it’s all about enjoying the resulting products.
- What is the most common question you are asked as a winemaker?
It’s not a “cop-out,” but I think it is what you just asked in the previous question. Folks are always asking what brought me here and what got me into wine.
- After a long day in the winery or vineyard, what do you do?
That’s an easy one, pop a cork with friends and family and watch the sunset.
- What’s the greatest part about being a winemaker?
There are not many careers left that enable you to grow a fruit, take it and create an entirely new product from it, bottle, label, etc. all by hand. Then have customers come visit and enjoy what we do and buy our wines.
- What is your winemaking philosophy, that is, what are you trying to achieve with your wines?
To create wines from local Texas grapes that reflect our State, looking for characteristics that become associated with Texas and not simply mimic wines of other regions. I keep the process as simple as I can and minimize mechanization. This results in wines that are fruit forward, smooth, and highly drinkable. We simply finish what nature started!
- Anything else you would like to add?
Texas is a great place to be in the wine industry. We have excellent education programs, industry support, but most of all I see an industry that is still young enough that peer support is phenomenal. I have had so much help and support from other Texas wineries, and that has helped Caudalie Crest become as successful as we are.