Texas Wine Lover was invited for this coverage. All opinions, experiences, and photographs are entirely our own.
What do you get when you take 44 wines produced exclusively by North Texas wineries, wrap them in silver bags, number them, and separate them into dry whites, sweet whites, dry reds, sweet reds, and rosé/pink, and then ask members of the Grapevine Wine Pouring Society to pour tastes for three hours? On Sunday, July 14th, at the Addison Conference Center in Addison, Texas, accompanied by a classical guitarist, plus cheeses, breads, crackers, and other fun bites, you got a delightful afternoon where over 200 North Texans were blind tasting and judging/rating as many as 44 wines…produced exclusively by North Texas Winery Association aka North Texas Wine Country at the Drink North Texas – Blind Wine Tasting Competition.
Next, what do you get when on the same afternoon, you “blend” into the room next door to this event, opportunities to meet, mix, and mingle with the North Texas winemakers who entered their wines into the above Blind Wine Tasting Competition? You got a big room filled with a huge level of exciting wine industry enthusiasm and collaboration; not to mention passed tapas, a fun jazz trio, and the chance for the winemakers to reveal their Blind Tasting entries plus other wines in their portfolios to North Texas wine appreciators (truly 200 North Texas wine judges) who were also able to purchase wines directly from North Texas wineries.
And the People’s Choice Winners were:
- Dry White: Landon Winery, 2018 Viognier
- Sweet White: Cork House Winery, 3 Cheers & Charm
- Sweet Red: Eden Hill Vineyard, Garden Red
- Dry Red: Landon Winery, 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon
- Rose: Blue Ostrich Winery, Rosato Moscato
Personally, I made a point to taste and rate the Dry Whites, Dry Reds, and Rosé’s first, and then I thought maybe I’d try the Sweets if time permitted. But, after all the fun tasting the dry wines and rosé’s, totaling 31 tastes, I was looking forward to finding out who made the wines I rated the highest. Being a wine geek, I was hoping I was;
- able to identify a few of the wines made by North Texas winemakers I am familiar with in the competition, and
- identify wine varieties familiar to me which are “in” the wines made by the North Texas winemakers I’m familiar with.
I was excited to be correct on a few, and in the ballpark on a few.
The Winemakers Reception also gave me the chance to touch base with Presley Whitehead Davies (Blue Ostrich Winery & Vineyard Manager & Cellar Master, plus a Director, North Texas Wine Country Board of Directors) who told me she was “thrilled with the turn out and excited to be together in one room with our fellow North Texas wineries.” Her dad’s (Patrick McMahon Whitehead, Blue Ostrich Winery Managing Partner & Winemaker) 2018 Viognier was my first pick for Dry White, and one of the wines I knew, because I enjoy it frequently. No offense intended Jason Dodson, Winemaker at Landon Winery; I gave your People’s Choice Winner 5-stars, too! (That “in the ball bark” I mentioned).
Speaking of Landon Winery, Bob Landon, (Landon Winery Owner, Vintner, plus Chairman, North Texas Wine Country Board of Directors) told me, “This is so fun to give people an opportunity to taste North Texas wines all in one place, and for us to hear, ‘Wow this is so good. I had no idea there were so many good wineries so close to the Dallas area.’”
At the very beginning of the Winemaker’s Reception, I was able to chat with Chris Hornbaker, (Eden Hill Vineyard Winemaker/Co-Owner, plus President, North Texas Wine Country). I asked how many people they had expected or wanted to attend? He said they had hoped for 200, sold over 200 tickets, and well over 200 were attending. He was rather pleased with the day, given he was in that moment, right in the thick of the happenings of the event he was leading.
This event was terrific, especially because it was the first effort for an event like this produced by the newly (August 2018) formed North Texas Wine Country. This group was born out of many of the original members of the Dallas Town and Country Wine Trail, who have not only invested immensely with their personal time, talents and resources, but their vineyard’s/winery’s time, talents, and resources to bring this group to life and see it grow quickly.
Darlene Leiker, Executive Director, North Texas Winery Association, had this to say, “Being a new association representing our North Texas Winery members, and this our first big event, this was a great success. We learned that there are some serious wine lovers in North Texas and that most people don’t know there are over 70 wineries in the 22 counties that we serve. We are already planning our Fall Wine Trail and our next big event for early 2020. We will take the lessons learned here and apply them to future events so stay tuned!”
You need to be acquainted with the strong leadership of this group.
|Chris Hornbaker, President (Eden Hill Vineyard)||Bob Landon, Chairman (Landon Winery)|
|James Hanger, Vice President (OG Cellars)||James Hanger, Director|
|Becky Ross, Secretary (Lone Star Wine Cellars)||Tom Busch, Director (Cooley Bay Winery)|
|Clark Hornbaker, Treasurer (Eden Hill Vineyard)||Kelby Trusty, Director (Fortunata Winery)|
|James Hanger, President Elect||Deanna Ross, Director (Lone Star Wine Cellars)|
|Presley Davies, Director (Blue Ostrich Winery)|
|Chris Hornbaker, Director|
|Clark Hornbaker, Director|
If Drink North Texas is merely the early example of what they can do, North Texas Winery Association is already achieving what they’ve dedicated themselves to doing:
- Promote the wineries of North Texas
- Brand the “North Texas Wine Country” in the minds of fellow Texans and tourists
- Produce events that connect customers to North Texas wineries
- Support the growth and quality of North Texas Wine
North Texans can be proud to live, sip, and savor in this region. Pour a Star in Your Glass.