About one hundred miles north of Austin near Hamilton, Red Wing Dove’s patio looks out over the Gholson Valley on 80 acres growing Shiraz, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Tempranillo, and the recently added Ruby Cabernet. The winery and vineyard are owned by Susan and Ellis Vandiver, former engineers who opened the winery in 2013 and recently celebrated their 6th anniversary with a party at the winery on August 31st. El Jardin catered a fajita lunch while guests enjoyed live music and vineyard views.
For the past four years, Red Wing Dove has used only estate grapes to make their wines. This year, the bounty was eight tons, producing 600 cases of wine. Featured wines include the newly released Pinot Blanc single varietal, which was previously used in the White Dove blend. Though Susan is primarily the winemaker while Ellis takes care of the vineyard, she says the Pinot Blanc grapes are “all hers.” Red Wing Dove also makes a Knock-Out Rosé, a sweet white named Honeysuckle, a super sweet white called Orange Blossom, a sweet red called Sweet Red Pepper, and the Peño Vino, a white wine infused with jalapeño. In addition, they make sangria and port-style wine. All bottles feature corks, and we had Susan uncork our wine to enjoy on their wrap-around stone patio out back with the friendly local folks.
Tours and seated tastings are usually conducted from the beautiful oak wine bar in the Saltillo-tiled tasting room which features a large stone fireplace. However, both were suspended for the anniversary celebration and Susan was letting us try any wine that was opened.
When you visit the winery, a jigsaw puzzle is on a coffee table nearby and everyone is welcome to work on it. A small gift section features local crafts and bottles to go. Windows look out onto the vineyards and patio for those who prefer air-conditioned views.
Plan a future Saturday visit to enjoy a wood fired pizza with glass of wine purchase every Saturday from 4-6:30 p.m., including toppings such as fresh garden basil, ground buffalo, summer sausage, and fresh vegetables. The pizza oven was built a couple of years ago and sits on a separate covered patio in the back.
There are three levels of wine club each with different benefits: White Wing Dove, Inca Dove, and Diamond Dove. There are three pick-up events per year which include newly released wine tastings and hor d’oeuvres, with additional discounts for bottles and merchandise at the winery. In addition to wine club pick-ups, Red Wing Dove hosts several fun events throughout the year: Way Out Wineries Holiday Trail, Summer Cookoff, Mardi Gras, “Girls” Night Out, Tamale and Sangria Fridays (with homemade tamales prepared especially for the winery), and a Halloween Costume Party. You can check out their website for future events and get on their email list for event updates.