The allure of fruit wine had us traveling north of Austin to Moose & Goose Winery in Temple, Texas on the weekend of their first anniversary in business. Owners/winemakers John and Melissa Lemke have crafted a sweet tasting cottage on land they share with family in which they share their delicious and very different fruit wines in a relaxed setting. A tasting is free pour and includes six wines of your choice and a souvenir glass.
Tasting choices change as wines become available due to fruit season, (or run out) and since we were sharing two tastings between us, we got to try all twelve wines arranged from dry to sweet on the tasting menu:
- White Zinfandel – semi-dry rosé wine made from Zinfandel grapes
- Pear – pear with Riesling grapes
- Cran-Apple – tart, yet smooth
- Dry Red – smokey and woodsy from Aronia berries sourced from North Dakota
- Peach – perfectly peach with fruit from Georgia
- Cherry Rhubarb – delicate but deep blend of fruit
- Plum – semi-sweet, crisp
- Black Current – a customer favorite with a hint of vanilla
- Aprium – a complex plum/apricot hybrid, smooth and sweet with fruit from Oregon
- Tripleberry – Raspberry, Blackberry, and Blueberry purees with White Zinfandel grapes
- Raspberry – like a glass of Raspberries (though not tart)
- Sweet Red – a sweetened version of the Dry Red above
We also tried the hot spiced wines (at no extra charge) that were in a buffet style crockpot arrangement on one wall of the cottage. In particular the Cran-Apple spiced wine was like Christmas in a cup! And since we purchased two bottles of wine, one tasting fee was waived.
According to Melissa, all of the fruit wines contain apples as well. But the flavors of the main fruit really shine through. In particular we loved the Dry Red which reminded us of the smokiness of Sotol. It is either a wine you love or don’t love as it has a very distinctive taste. Our group joked that it is a “gateway” red for white wine drinkers. We loved all of the wines we tried and are excited to return in the future to sample the Elderberry (fortified with brandy), Strawberry, Apricot, and Blackberry wines. John and Melissa source fruit from various locations in the U.S. and are experimenting with a sweet red blend featuring chocolate truffle.
John and Melissa hail from Wisconsin and Wyoming and met in Alaska while John was working in CID in the military. They settled in Texas, dabbled in making fruit wines, and are now planning an expansion for their growing business. Future plans include a larger tasting room facility with cottages and RV pads for Harvest Host visitors. As it happens, we visited during Day 2 of the Stagecoach Wine Trail and though they were quite busy pouring, they spent plenty of time at each table chatting with trail goers and wine club members alike. Live music filtered into the tasting cottage from a two-piece band just outside, and the winery’s cats, dogs, goats, and guinea fowl freely roam. Even under gray skies it was a lovely setting out in the country for a relaxed afternoon!
Moose & Goose is not open every weekend, so check their website or Facebook page before you visit. (Next open dates are Valentine’s weekend) They have a wine club with a six bottle commitment twice a year that includes a discount on wines, free tasting for a member and a guest, and a free glass of wine for the member each time they visit. We are looking forward to visiting them again soon for delicious fruit wines and friendly, laid-back vibes!