Away from the traffic noise of the Highway 290 wine trail between Johnson City and Hye, my wife Phyllis and I found (and you can, too) a new, small winery that epitomizes the Texas Hill Country.
Elisa Christopher Wines, located on the south side of FM 2721 midway between Southold Farm + Cellar and Sandy Road Vineyards, opened in 2022 after two years as part of the John Rivenburgh incubator program at Kerrville Hills Winery. And it is the result of two elementary school and Sunday school military family friends in Nebraska uniting in their love for each other and wine later in life after federal government service and landscape architecture careers, Elisa and Christopher Jones.
“Chris had to agree to move to Texas, go to church with me, and grow grapes,” explained winemaker Elisa Jones. “And the first Sunday we were in church, the sermon was based on the Biblical verse ‘and my beloved had a vineyard’.”
While neither Elisa nor Chris had a vineyard then, Elisa’s father does grow Blanc du Bois grapes in the College Station area. And Chris is using his landscape architecture background to supervise the eventual creation of a 12-acre vineyard for Merlot, Malbec, and Trebbiano grapes on their 43-acre property.
The wines we tasted in mid-September were:
- 2021 Cinsaut – a rosé from La Pradera Vineyards
- 2021 Vermentino – Canted County Vineyard
- 2020 Malbec – Texas High Plains
- 2020 Merlot – Texas High Plains
The wines were so balanced and well-made that we bought a bottle of each. That confirmed a driving principle of the Joneses – “We only make a first impression once!”
Elisa also noted that they want to add a sparkling wine in the traditional Champenois style so their neighbors and other wine club members do not have to go to California to buy such a wine.
Chris echoed his wife’s desire by adding “we want people to come to Elisa Christopher for the wine and stay for the comfort.” That comfort currently consists of outdoor tables and chairs under the Texas Hill Country live oaks adjacent to a tiny building that serves as the tasting room. Customers are able to partake of the Texas High Plains sourced grapes through tastings, glasses, and bottles, or by joining one of the three limited-membership wine club levels – Veraison, Harvest, and Terroir.
Phyllis and I found the tasting room most comfortable, Elisa and Chris most accommodating, and the wines most enjoyable, as we would expect other visitors also to do so.