Texas wine industry luminary, John Rivenburgh, recently purchased Kerrville Hills Winery and he is transforming it into a winery incubator. That conversion allows Rivenburgh to realize one of his central career ambitions of fostering the development of highly talented winemakers. The celebrated winemaker is also releasing the first wine vintages made under his guidance.
The Kerrville Hills Winery incubator is now a home for winemakers to manage the capitalization of their business, learn winemaking techniques, and work in a collaborative environment. Kerrville Hills Winery differs from a custom crush facility in that member winemakers are intrinsically involved in all production aspects. It is akin to an educational think tank for collaboration, sharing ideas, and fostering creativity so various winemakers can make their best products. Rivenburgh provides project and program oversight, access to an industry network developed over 14 years, as well as winemaking guidance and mentorship.
“The wine industry is innately collaborative,” says John Rivenburgh, winemaker, and owner of Kerrville Hills Winery. “I benefited from the guidance of people in the industry when I started my career in winemaking and from many more industry friends when I launched my own label and consulting firm, Rivenburgh Wine. This experience helped me fully appreciate the need for a facility for consulting winemakers to make high-quality wine. I’m glad to have a role in it because I like teaching people, and I really like helping people succeed. Helping people achieve their goal of putting great wine in a bottle is a thrill for me.”
Kerrville Hills Winery incubator members include:
“Having a passion and a drive to make high-quality Texas wine is only the beginning,” says Barbara Lecuona, winemaker of Siboney Cellars. “Even with years of education and several years of hands-on experience, it takes a lot to build a winery and a label, not to mention the financial means to outfit a production facility. While we are in the process of building our own facility, we have made our wine in shared spaces. When our small wine label outgrew our space with friends at a boutique winery, we knew we had to take it to the next level by working with John Rivenburgh and his experienced team at Kerrville Hills Winery. Now I’m supported not only by John and his expert knowledge, but by his fantastic crew and by other Texas winemakers establishing great Texas labels. This wine-brain-trust fosters the shared quest to craft world-class wines, gain knowledge, explore, experiment, and pursue quality while providing access to the best equipment and practical experience.”
Before purchasing Kerrville Hills Winery, Rivenburgh widely planted the grape variety Tannat and created award-winning wines with it. Tannat, a grape grown widely in France and South America, is loved for its deep color and tannins that give wine structure and complexity. Rivenburgh helped plant dozens of acres of Tannat in more than 20 vineyards in the state. He is one of the first winemakers in Texas to win international awards with Tannat wines including the 2011 Tannat CM, Bending Branch Estate Vineyard which was awarded Double Gold, Texas Class Champion, Class Champion, and was named Top Texas Wine at the 2014 Houston Rodeo Uncorked! International Wine Competition. In addition, he has won prestigious awards with Tannat wines from multiple wineries and vineyards such as Reddy Vineyard, Rustic Spur Vineyard, Texas Heritage Vineyard, 1851 Vineyard, Hoover Valley Vineyard, and Newsom Vineyards. This extensive development of Tannat has cemented his reputation as a leading innovative winemaker and viticulturist responsible for elevating its status to become a heralded varietal in Texas.
It is no surprise that Tannat is among the first new wines made by Rivenburgh at Kerrville Hills Winery a year after the purchase. New releases are:
- 2017 Tanat, Rustic Spur Vineyard, Texas Hill Country
- 2017 Sagrantino, Narra Vineyards, Texas High Plains
- 2017 Tempranillo, Newsom Vineyards, Texas High Plains
Each of the newly released wines are available online and at the winery.