Situated at the end of Edmonson Ranch Road in Bastrop County just 34 miles east of Austin is Rising Sun Vineyard, owned by Steve and Sandy Frintz. On a recent Saturday, we traveled the scenic drive past alpaca and cattle to arrive at their beautifully rustic tasting room and were greeted by Sandy and their very friendly Australian Shepherd.
The tasting room was designed by Steve Frintz, formerly in the construction business, and features 90% re-claimed materials in the form of barn wood planking walls and corrugated tin. There is a garage door window that opened the tasting room out to a large covered porch for cool breezes on this beautiful fall day. Just inside, there are also gift shop items in the form of scented candles, beautiful hand carved wood bowls, alpaca blankets, scarves, and stuffed animals.
Tastings are free pour, conducted at the bar, and consist of your choice of three wines from the six on their menu. All wines are 100% Texas grapes from the High Plains (unless otherwise noted) and Rising Sun has worked closely with their winemaker, Dr. Bob Young of Bending Branch Winery, to create a tasting menu that reflects Steve’s Basque family heritage. We were happy to sample all six:
- Morning Dew ’17 – a semi-dry, crisp blend of Semillon, Pinot Blanc, and Chenin Blanc that had a clean finish
- First Blush ’17 – a blend of Tannat, Montepulciano, and Sagrantino, semi-dry with a beautiful aroma!
- Temprano ’17 – our favorite wine was a medium-bodied blend of Tempranillo and Petite Syrah, with rich, red fruit notes
- Barbera ’15 – From California grapes, a deep bodied wine with notes of strawberry
- La Familia Barberia ’15 – their signature wine, this one is a California grape, semi-dry and blended from Tannat, Souzão, and Montepulciano, featuring hints of vanilla and dark chocolate with a soft finish. (We thought this one would be perfect for sipping at a fire pit.)
- Dulce Roja ’14 – Served with a bite of caramel-filled chocolate, this sweet wine is blended with Tinta Cão and Souzão. Not too sweet, this one is perfect as a dessert wine.
We loved all of the wines, but we settled on the beautiful patio to enjoy a bottle of Temprano and listen to Ian Campbell playing guitar and harmonica. Steve has also been known to join in with his own guitar!
According to Sandy, the goal was to plant unique grapes that could flourish in their mostly Gulf Coast terroir. Currently there are five acres of their 38-acre property planted with Tannat, Tempranillo, Barbera, Blanc du Bois, Syrah, Black Spanish, and Villard Blanc. Plans are in the works to plant Vermentino. They have worked closely with Texas A&M to determine the optimal variety for their land – sandy top, clay bottom, and lots of humidity. The tasting room has been open since April of this year, but the vines were planted in 2017 and next year they plan on harvesting estate grapes to create their wines. For the holiday season, Sandy has plans to add a spiced wine to the tasting menu, but she is still working out which wine to serve spiced. And in the spring, Sandy plans to offer mimosas with the sparkling wine they are working on.
Two sizes of charcuterie platters are available, but outside food is allowed. Children and dogs on a leash are welcome. A wine club is in the works for January, but in the meantime, there is a discount offered for case purchases. There is a pavilion to the right of the tasting room that has a view of wide-open spaces – perfect for weddings or other large events. Rising Sun Vineyard also has several fun fall events, including Date Night with a picnic basket to include wine and hilltop sunset views and Open Mic Night with free chili while it lasts (bring your guitars!). The first Rising Sun Autumn Fest will be November 23rd and feature live music, hand crafted gifts, Pizza Party Texas, and live alpacas for petting and pictures from Hummers Homestead Alpacas.
Steve and Sandy are very open, friendly, and gracious with a love of entertaining and great wine. Make Rising Sun Vineyard a stop soon on your tour of Texas wineries – you won’t be disappointed!