I’ll admit I had not heard much about Torr Na Lochs before visiting probably because I hadn’t paid attention, something my wife would say I’m very good at. So, on my way to visit them on a beautiful February morning, I had no preconceived notion of what to expect. I had visited their booth at a couple of wine festivals and enjoyed their wines very much, but I was not prepared for what I would find at the winery itself.
Torr Na Lochs is located near Buchanan Lake just seven miles west of Burnet on State Highway 29. My wife and I had spent time in the Spicewood area that weekend, so our route to Torr Na Lochs approached from the south along the winding Park Rd 4 W through Inks Lake State Park. This scenic route follows the Colorado River with spectacular views of Inks Lake State Park and Buchanan Lake. As we turned east towards Burnet on State Hwy 29, I was a bit dismayed to think that we were heading away from those beautiful views. Little did I know.
Passing through a gated entrance onto the property, we followed a dirt road with cattle guards and signs warning us to watch for free-roaming livestock. Mesquite trees, cacti, and low scrub dominated the landscape as we traversed the half-mile road to the top of the hill. Reaching the top we came upon a large parking area, across from which we could see the winery, a storage building, and then…that view!
Torr Na Lochs is situated at the top of a hill at an elevation of 1,250 feet overlooking Inks Lake, Buchanan Lake, and the Colorado River. Looking beyond the lakes to the west one can see Packsaddle Mountain (where the last Apache battle in this region was fought in 1873) and Enchanted Rock more than thirty miles away. And everywhere you look the views are simply stunning.
This 250-acre property is owned by Blake and Karen DeBerry who purchased it online sight unseen in 2004 while living in Scotland. In homage to their time in Scotland, they named the property Torr Na Lochs which is Gaelic for “Hill Over Lakes.” The site was originally intended as ranch property.
A short time later they had what they call their “ah hah!” moment while on a wine tour of western Australia. While visiting a vineyard in the Margaret River region they realized that the soil in that area was similar to that of their Texas property. After visiting with their hosts at the vineyard they decided to try their hand at wine. An empty wine bottle from Cape Grace Wines commemorating this pivotal event is encased under a plexiglass panel in the walkway of the winery.
Ground was broken on the vineyard in 2012 but preparation of the rocky soil delayed planting until 2014. The vineyard currently has three acres planted and grows Syrah, Malbec, and Petite Syrah.
The winery was opened in September 2015. This two-story structure houses the production facility, a tasting room, a club member room, and an office. A full kitchen was added in 2022 which serves up a wide range of selections from stone-fired pizzas and hand-made paninis to full meals for special events. A large storage facility was recently added to the property.
My visit to Torr Na Lochs happened to fall on a particularly beautiful Sunday afternoon with clear blue skies. I arrived in time to catch the feeding of a small group of longhorn steer that had been loitering at the fence near the winery. I later learned that these are part of the staff there at Torr Na Lochs with such names as Bo (the boss of the group), Sir Loin, Blue, and Patches. When you visit, be sure to say hello.
After passing several kinetic sculptures (and taking in that breathtaking view again), I meandered into the tasting room where I was immediately met by tasting room manager, Donnie Damuth. Owners Blake and Karen were away that weekend, but Donnie took good care of me with a guided tour of the production facility, kitchen, barrel room, and club member room after which I selected a seat on the porch of the tasting room. This overlooks a large U-shaped patio a flight below with tables arranged at strategic points allowing guests a perfect view of that gorgeous scenery (did I mention the view?). Over the next hour or so Donnie walked me through a tasting of each of the wines as other guests gathered on the patio below. I was able to observe the entire staff in action while enjoying my tasting and was very impressed. It was obvious they were well versed in their product and truly enjoyed serving their guests.
So, what about the wines? As mentioned, I was able to taste all the wines in their catalog and very impressed with each. Favorites were a crisp and refreshing Albariño, a full-bodied Rhône blend called Fion Geal, a fruit-forward Sangiovese, and an Estate Syrah.
Torr Na Lochs currently offers the following wines:
- 2018 Albariño
- 2021 Fion Geal – Blend of Roussanne, Marsanne, Viognier
- 2019 Orange Muscat
- 2019 Malvasia Bianca
- 2019 Sweet Sunset
- 2020 Il Vino Dolce Di Lily – 100% Orange Muscat dessert wine
- 2021 Carley’s Counoise Rose – Provence style rosé
- 2019 Sangiovese
- 2019 Montepulciano
- 2019 MADS’ Red – Italian-style blend
- 2019 Estate Syrah
- 2019 Estate Malbec
You may notice the proper names on that list (e.g., Lily, Carley, MAD). Those refer to a few of the DeBerry’s grandchildren.
Children are welcome at Torr Na Lochs, but pets are not allowed as they would not mix well with the livestock and vineyard dogs.
Torr Na Lochs offers three levels of club membership:
- Sandstone – 3 bottles 4 times per year
- Granite – 6 bottles 4 times per year
- Quartz – 9 bottles 4 times per year
Club members enjoy access to a second-floor club event room with an elevated deck, as well as discounts on wine, events, and merchandise and use of the Cairn at graduated rates depending on the membership level. Granite and Quartz members receive complementary tastings. Quartz members enjoy two complimentary event tickets annually.
Note that there is currently a wait list for the Torr Na Lochs wine club. See the website to join the wait list.
I can think of many reasons why you should visit Torr Na Lochs. Gorgeous views, great wines, delicious food, and an outstanding staff are just a few. Just go.
And as they would say in Scotland, slàinte mhath!
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