“The More the Merrier” or so the saying goes. Well, if that saying holds true, the Texas Hill Country Wine Road just got a LOT merrier!! Two very fine, well established wineries in the Texas wine world have come to be housed together in a perfect location right across Highway 290 from Altstadt Brewery just east of Fredericksburg. Los Pinos Ranch Vineyards and Wedding Oak Winery jumped on the chance to move into this twin room split mirrored building. Each winery has added their own style and ambiance to the space available and have made it their own and are ready to welcome the public. You will see much being written about these two wineries lately as there was a media introduction event, and from what I could tell, everyone had a great time and were very impressed with the whole experience.
Social media writers, sommeliers, and various other influencers were invited to attend this after-hours event with introductions of the two wineries by the owners and tastings with the winemakers. Now that Shelly and I live in Fredericksburg, we arrived a little early and were able to steal a few minutes with Gerald Jones, Managing Partner and Wine Sales and Distribution, Arnulfo Perez, winemaker, and also got to meet Drew Gruen, the new location’s General Manager of Operations, and Duncan Hill, the Assistant General Manager and also in charge of Wine Education and Private Tastings. It’s always great to catch up with Gerald, and I hope we get to see him more now that he has this Hill Country location to check up on. Once the Mercedes van arrived from Austin with the rest of the group aboard, we drifted over to the Wedding Oak side where the event was to begin. Fellow Texas Wine Lover (TWL) writer in attendance, Robin, took over this portion of the event and I will pick it back up when we get back on the Los Pinos side…
After Mike and Seth had taken us through their portion of the evening, everyone ambled next door to the Los Pinos side. Matt McGinnis made the introductions of Gerald and Arnulfo and allowed them to give a brief history of this 20-year-old winery. They gave us a tour of their facilities which included a small barrel room off the back patio.
Los Pinos Ranch Vineyards was established in 2000 located in Pittsburg deep in the Piney Woods of east Texas. This sleepy little winery has grown into a leading producer of Texas wine producing nearly 15,000 cases annually. You have more than likely seen their whimsical labels on your grocery store and liquor store shelves. They take their dry boutique wines very seriously. They grow estate grapes and purchase grapes from the Texas High Plains AVA and have won more than 200 medals over the years at some of the most prestigious wine competitions in the world! Winemaker Arnulfo has taken to natural fermentation in barrel, and aging in French and American oak, and is loving this old-world approach that is working so well. The east Texas location has become known as a destination location since it has everything you could ask for in one place: winery, restaurant, jazz lounge, and accommodations.
We all squeezed along the bar and began with my favorite Los Pinos white, Blanco Grande 2018. This is their estate grown Blanc du Bois. Arnulfo made this wine dry with no oak, so it brings forward many tropical fruits and finishes with clean citrus notes. I heard many oohs and aahs from the attendees.
Next up was the 2018 Rosato which is their dry rosé blended with 40% Sangiovese, 40% Pinot Noir, and 20% Tempranillo all grown in the High Plains AVA. The tasting notes we were provided offered that “this light and refreshing crisp medley of ripe red fruit offers dominant flavors of rose petals, violets, tart cherry, nutmeg, and cinnamon made in a Spanish style to enjoy any time, any season.” Whew, that’s a lot going on in one glass of rosé, but it manages it all very well.
The next two wines, each single varietals, began the red portion of the presentation beginning with the 2017 Sangiovese again grown in the High Plains AVA, specifically at Diamante Doble Vineyards in Tokio. This wine spoke to me as it started out strong and dark at the beginning only to turn into a velvet kitten as it finished with lighter characteristics. The other red was the 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon also grown at Diamante Doble Vineyards. This limited release was stainless steel fermented, then aged in American oak for more than 18 months. This allows for soft tannins as it gives off hints of caramel, toffee, leather, tobacco…yeah, you get the picture. “This wine pairs with all things Texas!”
The final wine of the evening, and by now just know everyone was having a great time, was their 2015 Texican which turns out to be a special blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon. This blend brings two cultures and two varieties together. This dry red wine begins slightly tart with raspberry jam and quickly rounds into spicy yet smooth tannins to finish.
The La Famiglia Wine Club is offered at the Hill Country location also where you can choose between three bottle levels and three styles. There are special “Wine Club Only” events offered as well as the opportunity to receive wines not available to non-club members. Definitely worth the inquiry when you visit.
The wines and the ambiance that this Hill Country location has to offer are designed to be a place where you can come and enjoy a glass of wine with friends and family while you relax and just let the world rush by.