By Amie Nemec
My hubby and I took a quick drive from Fredericksburg to Weatherford to see family. It was just an overnight jaunt and on the way home, we needed a break from the road. After filling up with gas, we pulled into Bob’s Burgers on the north side of Lampasas on 281. We take this route every time we visit my in-laws and my sister in Weatherford, but we seldom stop because we’re either just gaining momentum in our drive, or we’re pushing to get home. This time around, we didn’t have a schedule for the afternoon and had the luxury of taking our time.
Bob’s was pretty busy but efficient. The TexMex Burger was a good-sized hand-pressed beef patty smothered with gooey queso, served open-faced with a nice smear of guacamole on the top toasted bun. I had them add sliced tomatoes—because it is tomato season after all—and slivers of fresh jalapeño. We shared a 1/2 order of fries and 1/2 onion rings. The fries were hand-cut skin-on and cooked crispy, just how I like. The onion rings were thickly sliced large hoops with a seasoned, crisp batter, served with spicy ranch dipping sauce. Seriously, I ate too much! But it was the best burger I’ve had in a while, and I just couldn’t stop myself!
As we hit the road again, heading south on 281, my husband took a right turn that we hadn’t taken before. He loves the back roads of Texas, so this isn’t unusual. We were enjoying a detective story on audiobook and looking at the scenery when we came to the entrance for Pillar Bluff Vineyards. Immediately after, Benjy pulled into the drive for Texas Legato. We had previously met Bill & Sulynn Bledsoe, when they were invited to a wine education class at Perspective Cellars. But then, Covid shut things down, and we had not yet made it over to do a tasting with them. Bill’s brother, Gil, has the neighboring Pillar Bluff property. We would have stopped there too but felt only one tasting was in our cards today, and since we’d met Bill previously and promised to visit, we found ourselves bellied up to the bar at Texas Legato.
Gil started his vineyard in 1999 with the tasting room opening in 2002. Bill told us that he worked for and with Gil on the weekends to help out, and quickly caught the wine bug himself. By 2007, Bill and his wife Sulynn had planted grapes and were making their own wines. Each year the project grows a bit more, either with more grapes planted or with more cases being produced. As with much of Texas, their vines have been hit hard by recent weather and they have lost some. At present, there are 10 acres planted, but only about 2.5 acres are expected to yield fruit this harvest. Some of the remaining vines are not producing this year but could be back on track next year, while others will have to be replanted. Of course, this cycle of replanting vines is one of our big challenges in Texas viticulture. The Bledsoe’s underlying goal has been to manage 12 planted acres and produce 1,500 cases annually. At present, they are averaging about 1,200 cases, using their own estate grapes, as well as sourcing from the Hill Country, North Texas, and Texas High Plains regions. Each wine is handcrafted by this lovely couple, who have a vision of being rich in their relationships in life, and wine is their avenue to these friendships!
Bill remembered that we don’t drink much sweet wine, so we jumped straight into the red wines for our tasting.
2018 Family Reunion – this blend of 10 grapes is a field blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Petite Sirah, Petit Verdot, Tempranillo, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Mourvèdre, and Aglianico. The wine is not light, although, it is not tannic. It’s fruit-forward and complex while being smooth and easy drinking. Because of all the grapes used, there is complexity, and while many of the grapes tend to yield bold wines with black fruit notes, I got more cranberry and tangy red plum flavors. $25
2016 Petite Sirah – bold tannins with nicely balanced acidity. The blueberry, blackberry, and cracked black pepper lead to a chewy wine. Bill told us this is his favorite, and it was mine too. While I think this grape is awesome in the Hill Country, unfortunately, his vines will not yield fruit this year. $33 and we took a bottle home.
2018 Eyes of Texas Syrah – grapes sourced from a small vineyard just outside of Hamilton, which is one of the small towns we drive through when going to see family. This grape can be very complex with a long list of tasting notes possible. What was most notable with this Syrah was the smoothness and lack of astringency that is often noted in an Australian Shiraz, which is the same grape of a different name. I found this wine to have blackberries and black plum on the palate with a bit of baking spices. $32
Estate Malbec – this non-vintage wine is a blend of 2011 and 2012 Malbec from the estate vineyard. This practice of blending years is not hugely common with producers in America but is done in Europe when a vintage has very tasty grapes but a very small yield. I personally look for violet flowers on the nose of a Malbec, which is sometimes hard for folks to detect. And I prefer this wine from France over Argentina, but that’s my personal preference based on my wine experience so far. As for this wine, it is a very easy-drinking red with blackberry, red plum jam, vanilla bean, and a hint of cigar box. But the wine is not overly tannic, as my description here may imply. $30
2017 Hoover Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon – from a friend’s four-acre Hoover Vineyard in Locker, Texas, just west of Lampasas. The first vintage of this wine in 2011 was outstanding and award-winning, and Bill is hopeful that exact combination of influences will come together again from this vineyard. This Cabernet is a bit bolder than some we are used to from Texas, while still being balanced and not over-manipulated. $31 and we took a bottle home.
2018 Tempranillo – some of my wine-drinking friends already know that Temp is not generally my favorite wine. There are good ones out there, but whether from Spain or Texas, or elsewhere, it’s just not a wine I typically drink. Same with my hubby. But this Tempranillo has all the right characteristics of black cherries, fig, leather, and cigar box while not being harsh or too bold. $32 and we took home a bottle.
After walking through the production facility and taking in the view and the breeze on the patio, we finished with a taste of Pinot Grigio. This bottling is unique with about 28% Muscat which gave an herbal note. The white wine is rich in flavors of peach and apricot and is very smooth going down. Great for a hot Texas day.
In addition to the wines made from 100% Texas Vitas vinifera grapes, they also produce some fruit wines sourced from Texas growers. One of their most sought-after wines is Mirtillo that is fermented blueberries from East Texas and satisfies those looking for sweet wine but also giving some complexity.
If you live near Lampasas or find yourself driving through, you should make a stop. They are located less than four miles west of the Lampasas Golf Course on FM 1478 and it’s a short detour worth the stop.
About the Author
Amie Nemec is a longtime wine lover, Sommelier, and founder of Perspective Cellars tasting room in Fredericksburg, Texas. She is now venturing down the path to learn winemaking, so, along with wine writing and food pairing posts, be on the lookout for Amie’s wines in coming years!