French Connection Wines, a lovely boutique winery that sits upon a hillside in Hye off Highway 290, serves as a welcoming oasis set back in the countryside. This tucked away spot allows for some of the most scenic views across the Texas Hill Country and magnificent sunset watching and star gazing. This winery also prides itself on producing 100% Texas wines using solely Texas grapes and focusing on Rhône varietals.
French Connection Wines recently announced the launch of their wine club to the first 300 people who had previously purchased a case or more of wine from the winery. It was an opportunity for dedicated customers to show their support given that this winery opened with great anticipation and accolades. Many Texas wine lovers have grown fond of and familiar with the quality wines produced by winemaker Benjamin Calais.
The inaugural wine club pick up party did not disappoint. It was scheduled for Sunday, September 27. Club members were offered two-hour windows either noon to 2 p.m. or 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. to schedule smaller groups of members to come onsite and sit outside at socially distanced tables, barrel tables, and outdoor lawn furniture under covered patios, trees, or in the warm sunshine on this surprisingly windy wine pick up day.
Members were greeted at the front doors and provided their tasting menu cards and a wine glass to use as they visited two different stations outside beyond the covered patios for their wines and pairing bites. The newly released wines featured for the day were the 2019 Viognier and the 2019 Counoise. There was an outside bar set up to also offer bottles of wine for purchase.
The 2019 Viognier, created with fruit sourced from Bingham Family Vineyards, was very fresh, fruity, and think bold honeysuckle and luscious refreshment like golden sweet honeyed drops of dew so refreshing and satisfying on a hot sunny day. This wine was paired with a Cajun shrimp crêpe with maque and bourbon barbeque sauce. Lots of plump shrimp were carefully cooked and wrapped inside this pleasing package tucked in the softest lightest crêpe wrapper. A delightful pairing as the shrimp had a slight kick to it.
The 2019 Counoise with fruit sourced from Farmhouse Vineyards from the High Plains was a spectacular deep vibrant rich raspberry shade in the glass with a smokiness on the nose and had a beautiful depth to this light bodied red wine, reminiscent of a Pinot Noir. This is such a unique grape varietal and not something you will find broadly offered across the state, so finding this opportunity to extend your palate and try new grape varietals like this is always exciting to a wine lover. This was paired with a smoked chicken crêpe nestled with arugula and chèvre crème and herbed vinaigrette. Spectacular meal and wine!
To top things off, if one still had room after these two very filling hand-held packets of soul satisfying protein packed meals, there was the option to purchase tickets for banana and Nutella filled dessert crêpes. The crêpes were being made homemade onsite and truly were such a wonderful way to enjoy a different take on a hand-held delicious treat.
There were also T-shirts for sale for wine club members to highlight they were part of the Hye Cru – La Grande Vie and there was a special opportunity to purchase cases of 2019 Vin Gris for a wine club member only price.
The initial pick up party was very well received. Many members met other wine lovers they knew from other clubs, or through different online wine sites, like Texas Wine Lover, which connected us to a new friend at this event. There were many smiles, and folks brought their wine dogs with them as they sat outside enjoying the breeze and views along with their wines, food, and fellowship. The owners and winemaker were prominently stationed around the winery at different stations and Ben floated around visiting with club members as he was checking in on the food stations and pick up station for the wines.
Congratulations to French Connection Wines on their fabulous first event and the launch of their wine club. It was a thrill to be watching their growth and enjoying this journey with them as they continue to move forward during these trying times. The harvest this year had great quality fruit, even if some of the yields were lower than in prior years. We all should be looking forward to tasting the fruits of their labors in future visits.
If you are not yet familiar with French Connection Wines, please call and schedule a time to stop by and visit them. I think you will be equally pleased with their craftmanship, their wine selection, and the friendliness of their team. Plus, you just cannot beat that view!