One of the newest wineries on U.S. 290 in Fredericksburg is Airis’Ele Vineyards. The winery is owned by Bret and Chris Perrenoud along with John and Susie Bernard.
If you recognize the names of Bret and Chris Perrenoud, they were longtime employees at Becker Vineyards. With their two children on their way to college, Bret and Chris decided now was the time to use the knowledge they gained over the years. John and Susie Bernard turned out to be the perfect partners to open their new winery.
We arrived at Airis’Ele Vineyards soon after they opened. The winery’s tasting room is an old farmhouse set back from the highway and it makes a nice facility for a tasting room. There are multiple rooms, and the main room when first entering the tasting room is overlooked by a glass-enclosed room that will be used for future private tastings. Also in the main tasting room is a wall decorated with acoustic guitars high on the wall. It turns out these are collectible guitars from John Bernard.
We started a tasting and eventually, Bret Perrenoud led the tasting. He explained the history of the winery along with how the logo was derived by finding two sheds (antlers) on the property. The exotic Axis sheds represent the grapevines that are pruned back and regrow each year, as well as the uniting of the two separate families.
Bret then explained the name of the winery, which to be honest, is very difficult to remember initially. Airis comes from John Bernards’s side of the family and Ele comes from Chris’s side of the family, hence becoming Airis’Ele.
These are the wines that were available when we were there:
- 2019 Viognier – Lahey Vineyards
- 2021 Redlin Rosé (40% Cinsault, 20% Montepulciano, 20% Sangiovese, 15% Mourvèdre, 5% Grenache) – Farmhouse Vineyards
- 2018 Malbec – Newsom Vineyards
- 2019 Cuerno (40% Merlot, 40% Malbec, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon) – Columbia Valley
- 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon – Columbia Valley
- 2020 Nichol (50% Petite Sirah, 50% Petite Verdot) – Texas
- 2020 Cabernet Franc – Calistoga
- Sweet Bienvenue (73% Riesling, 27% Viognier) – Wilmeth Vineyards
Bret explained how they were pleased some Texas wines were acquired because it is difficult for a new winery to accomplish that. We wondered about the three words after each wine on the tasting menu. For example, the Redlin Rosé has the words Bright, Cheery, Laughter. Bret told us about his pet peeve with wine tasting notes describing the wines with different aromas and flavors, especially cherry. Instead, he would prefer to describe how the wine is enjoyable, so he worked hard to come up with three words for each wine.
The wines were made at Hilmy Cellars with winemaker Michael Barton leading the effort. The group was very satisfied with working with Hilmy Cellars, and we agreed that the efforts provided excellent results.
We all went outside where we saw how it could be very peaceful sitting under the large oak trees. The owners have plans for expanding the winery outside, adding a production facility, and more.
From our experience with the wines, the atmosphere, and the friendliness of the staff, we know we will be returning again to Airis’Ele Vineyards.