We passed through Johnson City, wanting to see if the Alex Anthony Vineyards tasting room was open—yes! Nestled inside a white stone Texas historical building just across from the courthouse we met Darrin Cheraso, co-owner with wife Carla Villarreal, and his general manager, Sandy Lee. (Darrin and Carla also operate a B&B in Stonewall, Texas named Alexander’s Haus.)
Picture windows in the tasting room provide a view of the courthouse with eateries, galleries, and other places to visit just a short walk away. We settled in at the bar to try a few wines from the current tasting menu:
- Texas Albariño (light, dry, citrusy)
- Love Song (semi-sweet sparkling Moscato that is crisp and floral)
- 2018 Texas Viognier (aromas of fruit and flowers, full-bodied)
- Texas Peach (semi-sweet floral and peach, gentle finish)
- 2017 Moscato (floral notes with apricot and peach)
- 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon (Washington state grapes, black fruits, and dark chocolate, smooth finish)
- 2017 Midnight Moon Merlot (full-bodied and smooth, Hubby’s favorite!)
- Alexander’s Red Blend (Washington Cabernet Sauvignon and Texas Tempranillo)
- Sweet Alexander (fruity and spicy, sweetened Alexander’s Red Blend)
- 2018 Texas Sparkling Gewürztraminer (100% Texas – think grapefruit, apricot, citrus)
A flight of six wines from the tasting menu is free with any purchase of three bottles or more, and includes small containers of oyster crackers, Ghirardelli chocolate chips, and Darrin’s wine wit. Being a lover of reds, my favorite was Alexander’s Red Blend – a full-bodied glass of half Cabernet Sauvignon and half Tempranillo that was smooth and fruit forward, aged in American Oak. We also really enjoyed the Texas Albariño, which was crisp and delicious.
Snacks are available and include meat and cheese trays with Prasek’s summer sausage or smoked turkey with a variety of cheeses and crackers. Since sidewalk consumption is legal in Johnson City, you can also purchase insulated or twinkling wine tumblers with a pour of wine included for $8-$12 – fun for sippin’ and strollin’ the square which we will definitely add to our list of things to do, especially in December when the square puts on its holiday best. Their current wine promo is Picnic in a Bag which includes wine, snacks, cups, and a cozy blanket. Wine tours and groups are welcome to the tasting room with advance notice.
The winery, which opened in October 2020, was named for Darrin and Carla’s son Alexander, who passed away in 2015. Their young daughter, Lauren, is featured in many photos around the winery and on the website. Darrin has partnered with a custom wine facility with 1,100 acres in Brownfield. Mentoring him are Anthony Mosely, Michael Hellman, and Cary Franklin, who also oversee bottling. Production was slow in 2020, but the new year will kick that into high gear. The work of local artists hangs on the walls of the tasting room and handmade pottery wine chillers sit in the front windows. The inside space has cozy seating, sparkling crystal lights, and soft music—truly relaxing and comfortable, just off the beaten 290 wine path. There is also outside seating at tables on the sidewalk where you can sip and watch small town comings and goings. Pull up a chair and let Sandy, a longtime Johnson City resident tell you tales from the Civil War.
A wine club is available with either a three or six bottle level and includes a complimentary tasting or glass every time you visit, as well as discounts on wine, invitations to member events, and education opportunities. Look for the historical marker outside to read more about the building from which the tasting room is located. And at the courthouse, seek the artillery memorial at the corner of E. Cypress and N. Nugent avenues to find Alex Anthony Vineyards “under the gun.”