By Amie Nemec
On a Sunday, my husband and I were heading to a going-away party for a fellow winemaker-to-be who will be working harvest in Oregon. We had some spare time, so we popped in for a tasting at Texas Heritage Vineyard. We’ve enjoyed their wines in the past, but it’s been a little while and we wanted to see what was new on the menu.
Billy and Susan Johnson started planting their vineyard in 2015 and now have over 12 acres under vine. They had hoped to embrace their own Texas heritage with a winery and vineyard that could be passed down for generations. In 2018, the tasting room opened on Highway 290 just outside of Fredericksburg and is a great stop for wine whether you’re heading into town or on your way out. The spacious interior has two bars for stand-up tastings, but Covid protocols last year required outdoor seating for a time. The family and staff decided they really liked allowing guests to enjoy the Hill Country view out back, so all tastings are now done seated on the back patio. They have made the space very welcoming and the view outstanding, and not what you’d expect at a property situated right on the busy roadway.
Ruthie greeted me with a hug and welcomed us onto the patio. This was a clear reminder for me that good ol’ southern hospitality is strong at this winery!
The tasting is $18 and includes five wines, a mix of whites, reds, and a rosé. Although I have to admit, we went a bit off menu and added some wines to our experience.
We started with the 2019 Time Traveler white blend of Roussanne and Viognier grown by Reddy Vineyards in the Texas High Plains. The wine is dry, tropical, and very refreshing.
Susan popped by our table to say hi. We had not expected the pleasure of a chat with an owner, and it was a very welcomed surprise. While we tasted wines and discussed each, we also talked at length about the estate vineyard and the expectations for this current harvest. Of course, harvest is well underway right now and things are quite exciting!
We enjoyed both the 2019 Albariño and Oaked Albariño. For both wines, the grapes were grown here in Gillespie County at Wildseed Farms Vineyards. While both were good wines, we really enjoyed the oaked version, as it has more depth and body.
Next, we jumped into the red wines with the 2018 Barbera, which is a grape that originates in Italy. While there isn’t much being grown outside of Italy, we have found that all we have tried from here in Texas have been quite lovely. This gem is even a gold medal winner.
The 2018 Zinfandel is a wine I’ve really liked in the past and that day it did not disappoint. People often think of Zin as very fruit-forward and jammy as they are often made in California. But in Italy, where the grape is known as Primitivo, the style is still full of fruit flavors but not as intense and that’s how this bottling represents.
Another Italian grape, Sangiovese is growing well in Texas, and we have some fantastic examples being produced, including this 2018 bottling. The wine is varietally correct and enjoyable, and we took some home.
Their newest release is the 2019 Stella Solitaria, which means Lone Star in Italian. It’s a light red blend and good for day drinking!
The 2018 Tempranillo is drinking just as well as I had remembered from our past visit, and we were lucky enough to compare it with the 2018 Estate Tempranillo. I prefer the one grown on the estate. The wine starts a bit fruit-forward with tart cherry, fig, and a finish of tobacco leaf and cedar. It is tannic but with a hint of acidity that makes the mouth water for more.
We finished our time on the patio with a lovely breeze and a taste of 2018 Souzão. This grape originates in Portugal where it is blended to make Port wines. There are not many regions in the world that grow this grape and those that do typically make a dessert wine from them. But here in Texas, we are doing a good job with this grape, and it is usually used here for a single varietal wine. The wine can be dry, very tannic, and sometimes comes across as harsh. Here the wine is high in tannins but also has bright acidity to back that up. The texture is smooth and flavors of plum, fig, and cedar linger on the finish. We took along a bottle of this lovely wine as well, and I plan to serve it with a good ribeye next week.
The wine club offers gracious benefits which not only include discounts of 15-20% off wines at each of their four allocations during the year but also receive a free glass of wine during a member’s visit. There are live music events nearly every weekend and the pickup parties are great fun.
The next time you’re looking for a great Hill Country view, kind people who love their wine, maybe some live music, and some fantastic 100% Texas bottles, this is your 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!