One benefit of the Texas Hill Country Christmas Wine Affair 2019 passport was that it gave purchasers an excuse to also visit non-passport wineries in the geographic area. Such was the case for my wife Phyllis and me when we visited non-passport participant Newsom Vineyards in Comfort between enjoying passport tastings at nearby Bending Branch Winery and Singing Water Vineyards in Comfort, and Kerrville Hills Winery and 1851 Vineyards, both on Highway 16 south of Fredericksburg.
Newsom is a well-known vineyard in the Texas High Plains AVA that has sold grapes to many Texas wineries for more than 30 years. Son Nolan Newsom established a tasting room with the Newsom Vineyard name in Comfort about three years ago. He cited well-known and neighboring winemaker Dr. Robert Young for his location on the main road through Comfort, which is approximately 20 miles south of Fredericksburg and the Highway 290 wine road.
“Dr. Bob said if you want to go to an amusement park, go to the 290 rat race, but if you want to taste good wines, come to Comfort,” Nolan said.
And the eight white wines and 14 reds focus that “goodness” on both small batch productions and some identical varietals that reflect the different styles used by Nolan and other winemakers.
Guests can select to taste six of the wines for a nominal fee that includes a complimentary logo glass. The tastings are poured using a Coravin wine preserver that provides a longer shelf life for the wines offered by Nolan, none of which exceed 250 cases in production size.
The wines that Phyllis and I tasted while standing at the bar in the small tasting room included:
- 2018 Pinot Grigio
- 2018 Albariño
- 2017 Orange (an Orange Muscat fermented on the skins)
- 2016 Flat Creek Sangiovese
- 2016 Inception Blend
We also were able to taste the 2016 Flat Creek Cabernet and the 2016 Cabernet Franc produced by winemaker Tim Drake for the Newsom Vineyards wine club and compare those wines with the 2016 Newsom Cabernet and the 2016 Newsom Cabernet Franc made by Nolan.
As shown by the two Flat Creek wines, Nolan has used his relationships with winemakers at Pedernales Cellars, Lewis Wines, Llano Estacado Winery, Calais Winery, and Flat Creek Estate to make his wines. He is now focusing production of his wines at the facilities of Bending Branch Winery and Driftwood Estate Winery, where his wife Yanmei is the winemaker.
“My goal is to take good fruit and not screw it up!” he emphasized.
One example of Nolan’s attention to detail is his wine club. His focus is on small batch productions since he gets only two percent of the grapes that the family vineyard produces in the Texas High Plains AVA. Thus, he has only had six wine club releases in his three years of operation in Comfort.
“I will only release wines to my wine club members when they are ready,” he explained. “For example, I have some 2016 wines that will probably not be released until after the 2017 vintage of those same wines. And I will never repeat a vintage in a wine club release!”
In place of wine club pick-up parties, Newsom Vineyards has live music at its Comfort location on Saturdays and Sundays five months of the year. Wine club members receive up to two complimentary tastings or glasses of wine at those events.
In addition to quality small batch wines, the Newsom Vineyards at Comfort also offers various clothing articles and wine-related gifts for sale. The tasting room is located adjacent to a distillery and a cigar lounge and is within walking distance of antique stores and dining establishments in the small town.
“If you can’t find ‘Comfort’ while you are here, you’re not doing it properly,” Nolan said.
So the next time you are using a Texas Hill Country wine passport or wish to venture off the 290 wine road on a Thursday, Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, take a scenic drive south to Comfort to enjoy the quality wines of Newsom Vineyards, and an enjoyably informative visit with proprietor Nolan Newsom.