One of the favorite recurring themes about the wine business I love is innovative repurposing. I’ve enjoyed and experienced this from the Old World of wine during visits to France, Italy, and Spain and during visits to the New World of wine in California, Oregon, Iowa (my home state) and especially here in Texas. Please take a moment to get acquainted with a piece of north Texas history and better yet, go enjoy it at the Hidden Hangar Vineyard and Winery, maybe a five- minute drive east of the Main Street area in Denison, Texas.
“Once the home of Barnstorming planes that used the grassy knoll (now a gorgeous sprawling 40-acre vineyard) as their runway to the sky” in November 2019, Hidden Hangar announced it was ready for take-off. And taken off is what they’ve done. With nods to aviation and piloting incorporated into their wine names combined with the repurposing of what used to be an airport, an office building along with clever aviation themed décor, Hidden Hangar is right “on time” for the Texoma AVA.
As a resident of the region, I’ve been watching, snooping, and enjoying the journey of my friend, Stormy Cansler, owner of Hidden Hangar, whom I met at Grayson College on a cold February Saturday in 2015 when we were both attending a viticulture class together. She was just beginning to create the next layer to a family dream her mother began dreaming in the 1990s when she had the innovative vision to plant a gorgeous vineyard on the old airport property. Her well established Texoma AVA vineyard is home to many notable vitis vinifera ranging from the Noble Grapes, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Riesling, plus Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Noble Grapes of Bordeaux, and a Rhône staple, Syrah. Three additional acres of Southern Italian varieties of vitis vinifera, Aglianico, Vermentino, and Fiano will be planted this spring.
At the main tasting and hospitality building, it’s fun to sit at a bar fashioned out of a small airplane. Think to yourself, “I’m picking up my wine glass from the top of a Barnstormer’s airplane wing.” Keep in mind, Hidden Hangar’s operation is in no way a “flying circus.” And in no way are there stunts and tricks being performed here as they were in the first Roaring Twenties. In our version of the New Roaring Twenties, innovation, thoughtfulness, intention, and deliberateness are the characteristics I see hard at work here in every aspect of this state-of-the-art winery and vineyard. I was fortunate to have a private visit and tour with Stormy, wine maker Mark Schabel, and Event Manager, Cassie Vidal.
While I’m on the subject of events, there are no shortage of plans or options here for you to enjoy where events and activities are concerned. Personally, I am a fan of the all-season putting green and fun selection of putters next to the tasting bar. But not to be overlooked starting this month, there will be Salsa Sunday. In addition to winemaking, Mark will also teach you how to salsa. Check out the dance floor pictured here in the production building.
There are multiple outdoor spaces with fire pits, huge umbrellas and yummy cushions, views, views, views, the wine cellar, the barrel room, the meeting room, the production building, even the restrooms with mirrors created from the windows of retired 747s. Hidden Hangar is equipped to host weddings, parties, corporate events, luncheons, and small or large groups meetings. Facility tours are also available ranging from wine production specific to mechanized vineyard operation specific to blending and much more.
Winemaker Mark is currently pouring eight wines on the tasting menu for you to enjoy. From the 2017 vintage: Dry and Sweet Riesling. From 2018’s vintage: V.F.R. (Very Fine Riesling), Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Syrah, Riesling, and the sweet red blend, Riveter Rosie made from Syrah, Malbec and Cab Franc created in all stainless steel and with the idea it pairs smartly with Texas barbecue. I enjoyed Riveter Rosie. And, I especially enjoyed my barrel tastes of Syrah and Malbec. The 2017 Dry Riesling was the one I requested to be included with my February wine club choices.
Mark, originally from the northside of Chicago, is a 2008 graduate of U.C. Davis’ Enology and Viticulture program. He’s pictured here having just thieved into a barrel of 2018 Malbec currently aging in new French and new East European oak. In fact, all Hidden Hangar’s reds are aging in this beautiful barrel program at the moment. When I asked when they planned to bottle, both he and Stormy replied, “When they are ready,” and they just sweetly smiled. So, let us just continue the anticipation of the “when?” right here shall we?
Watch their social media for future menu and special food and wine announcements.