A new winery near Huntsville opened this year calling you to visit for many reasons. Of course, the number one reason is the wine should be good—and it is. Another reason would be to enjoy the peace and quiet away from the city—and it does that. And when you want to combine all that together and want to just enjoy multiple days away to relax and enjoy wine, you need a place to stay—and they have that too.
West Sandy Creek Winery planted their vineyard in 2009. Today the 15-acre vineyard is growing Blanc du Bois, Lenoir, and Tempranillo, although the Tempranillo may change soon because of growing issues in southeast Texas. Wines were made throughout the years, and the tasting room opened in March 2019. Owners Stan and Peggy McGinley spared no expense to create a destination winery near the Sam Houston National Forest. In fact, a map inside the tasting room shows exactly how the 360-acre ranch borders the National Forest.
The trip to West Sandy Creek Winery was an easy one-hour drive from Houston, and it wasn’t long before I was in the country and found the entrance to West Sandy Creek Winery. As you drive on the gravel road to the winery, you pass by a log cabin and a vineyard. At the top of the hill you reach the winery and tasting room. Looking around, there is a fence alongside the winery and chances are good that you will see some of the winery’s animals including a zebronkey and Joey the camel. Yes, you read that right. They do have a camel that is featured throughout the tasting room also. I have never heard of a zebronkey, but I have seen one now. They also have a zebra, so I think you can guess where a zebronkey came from. The tasting room offers carrots for the camel, so take advantage of that opportunity.
You can look around after you get out of your car, but soon you will be greeted by someone from the winery. It was early in the day when I visited, and I was greeted by Sandy McGinley and Diego Varela who welcomed me to the winery. Sandy is the son of Stan and Peggy and is the manager of the winery. We walked into the tasting room while they gave me an introduction. I then had the chance to do a tasting at the tasting bar, and that’s where I learned this is really a family winery, as Sandy’s son Daniel was one of the tasting guides along with Matt to help me on my journey.
The winery has been winning multiple awards at wine competitions even before the tasting room opened, so I have been looking forward to tasting through their wines instead of just sampling a winning wine while judging.
You can stand at the long tasting bar for a tasting or sit at one of the many tables. I opted for the tasting bar. There are two tastings available. One is a flight of four two-ounce wines which you can select from the wines available or a tasting of six wines from the same list. The six wine tastings come on a small paddle. A cracker and snack mix is available for you to cleanse your palate between tastings. I chose the larger tasting so I could sample more of the wines, and the wines started to be poured from the bottles.
These are the wines that were available during my visit:
- 2018 and 2017 Texas Blanc du Bois Sweet
- 2017 Texas Blanc du Bois Sweet
- 2018 Texas Rosé of Texas
- 2018 Texas Blanc du Bois Dry
- 2017 Texas Blanc du Bois Dry – Estate
- 2018 Texas Old World Blanc du Bois
- 2018 and 2017 Texas Lenoir Blush
- 2018 and 2017 Texas Lenoir
- 2015 Texas Tempranillo – Estate
- 2012 Bounty Land Crossings (30% Estate Lenoir, 70% California Merlot)
Soon to come will be the 2018 Bounty Land Crossings (70% Estate Tempranillo and 30% Lenoir). The winery tries to focus on making wines from the grapes grown on the property, but they are starting to expand to use Texas grapes from other vineyards. The only non-Texas wine is a Merlot, but the winery will soon move to 100% Texas wines once they get the grapes. Winemaker Morgan Mooney who has come on is doing a fantastic job and I look forward to trying more of his wines in the future.
As I mentioned earlier, the estate Tempranillo vines will soon be removed, so I made sure I bought a bottle of the 2015 Estate Tempranillo which was very good. The difference in the Lenoir wines was interesting. I’ll be honest that I am not the biggest fan of a dry Lenoir wine. The 2017 Lenoir was more like the Lenoirs I have had, but actually better than others. The 2018 was more like a dark rosé in color and tasted less like a typical Lenoir. The reason could be that 2018 was made with no days on the skins (1% RS) and the 2017 was three days on the skin (0% RS). The 2018 Lenoir came home with me.
After you are done tasting and decide to enjoy a glass of wine, there are tables and a comfy patio set outside the tasting room. Tapas platters are available for you to purchase to eat while you relax. There were three different tapas platters available including different types of cheeses, meats, fruits, olives, and crackers.
A nice gift shop is available with wine glasses, tea towels, candles, Texas pottery from a local artist, and other wine accessories. A wine club is available to join.
A specialty of the winery are dinners on the first Friday of the month called “A Taste of WSCW.” The very reasonably priced four-course wine paired menu definitely is another reason to visit West Sandy Creek Winery. The winery will also soon be offering live music. Another event coming is a tasting in the vineyard.
As I mentioned at the start, I drove by a log cabin. There are four log cabins available for rental, so check West Sandy Creek Winery’s website for information on how to reserve them. The cabins were built in a similar style to the tasting room, so they are very nice.
All in all, West Sandy Creek Winery is a winery you should make a point to visit.