If you have been to the western part of Texas to visit wineries, you certainly found Christoval Vineyards located in Christoval, just south of San Angelo. It is a beautiful facility with the winery, event center, vineyard, and tasting room. At the helm of the winemaking is Bill Skrapits, and we are proud to feature Bill for this month’s winemaker profile.
- What did you do before becoming a winemaker (if anything)?
I ran software development projects for startup companies. Doing so, I learned to build businesses while working with some great entrepreneurs.
- What is the toughest challenge about being a winemaker in Texas?
The weather is definitely the toughest thing to deal with. Harvest is unpredictable every year, and you have to be prepared for anything. I think that’s why I like it so much.
- Is winemaking an art or a science or both?
Definitely both. One of my mentors, Dr. Roy Mitchell, admitted that he had studied wine from a scientific perspective for decades, and yet still couldn’t predict how good a wine would be based on chemistry. You have to use science to start, but it is the stylistic choices a winemaker gets to make that matter in the final product.
- What is your favorite food and wine pairing?
Ribeye and Tempranillo. Although after my trip to Italy, I really enjoy Napoli Pizza with Aglianico.
- If you didn’t make wine, what would you do?
Drink it? I left a highly successful career in technology to pursue wine as a passion. I don’t think I would be doing anything that didn’t involve wine.
- What first attracted you to winemaking and how long have you been doing it?
I first got interested in winemaking in college at the age of 20. I was curious about the biology aspects of it. I am a firm believer in Leigh Brackett’s statement, “witchcraft to the ignorant…simple science to the learned.” To me, winemaking seemed like magic, so I figured it was something I should learn about.
- What is the most common question you are asked as a winemaker?
How did you become a winemaker? Ironically, the how was by making wine.
- After a long day in the winery or vineyard, what do you do?
One of my favorite things about harvest is raising a glass with the people I just spent 12 hours sweating in the Texas heat with and watching the Texas sunset.
- What’s the greatest part about being a winemaker?
When I visit someone in the industry, the first thing they do is hand me a glass and ask what I think. I like to joke that I am paid to drink wine and making it is just a perk.
- What is your winemaking philosophy, that is, what are you trying to achieve with your wines?
My goal is to make wine that people love to drink. I don’t think any particular style is better than another. 90% of the wine I make is for the people who are buying it. What they want in a wine is what I am directing the wine towards. 10% of the time the grapes scream at me and I have to listen to what they want. The 10% are to share my inspiration with the world.
- Anything else you would like to add?
I grew up in a house where wine was not something fancy you show off, or something restricted to special people. Wine is for everyone, and Texas is a grape paradise.
Neal Newsom says
Great job, we have not been there yet, next time going south. Dr Mitchell was my mentor as well, miss him.
Jeff Cope says
You will enjoy your visit to Christoval Vineyards.