Born and raised in San Antonio, Deanna studied nursing and became an RN. She worked in Telemetry, Cardiac, and Intensive Care for seven years until she shifted gears to become the clinical coordinator for a family practice. A few years later, in 2001, she married Dr. Michael Dickey, an emergency physician. And while neither of them drank much wine, it was around this time that Deanna fell in love with Grigich Hills Chardonnay from Napa Valley, California. This planted the seed they should take a trip to the area sometime.
Together the couple helped open and manage urgent care centers in Marble Falls, Bee Cave, and Cedar Park. In 2012, while growing their business, the couple traveled to Napa for that long-planned vacation. And this trip was a true eye-opener. There were so many fantastic wines, and the experience was unforgettable. Their love for wine grew exponentially as a result of this vacation. Once they returned home, they realized for the first time they were living in the middle of the Texas wine industry.
It was just a year later, after a long and successful career in healthcare in central Texas, the couple decided it was time to retire. And it could have been the wine influencing that decision! They visited as many local wineries as they could, and in 2014, Deanna and Mike planted a small test vineyard on their ranch in Round Mountain. Shortly after, they purchased some land in Pontotoc to plant additional vines.
It wasn’t a particular bottle of wine or a specific winery that led the couple to jump in and want to own a winery. Mainly, it was the fact that it was already being done in Texas and close to home. And, truly, it was being done well. They just had the confidence that they could do it too.
In 2016, they harvested their first crop of Tannat grapes. They had met Dr. Bob Young of Bending Branch Winery, who enjoys mentoring up-and-coming winemakers. The couple enrolled in the Texas Tech winemaking courses, and Deanna began additional training through the WSET program.
The existing Rancho Ponte Vineyard came up for sale in 2017, and the land struck the couple as a perfect fit. They purchased the property and began the journey to own a winery. The estate has become a comfortable spot for locals to relax and share a bottle. And visitors stopping in are always greeted like old friends.
The estate is truly a working farm with horses, miniature horses, a donkey, and, of course, longhorns. The name, Longhorn Cellars, came from the couple’s love for all things Texas. Deanna and Mike work hard to be ambassadors for the Texas wine industry. The most rewarding part of owning a winery is getting feedback from guests who truly enjoy their wines.
Texas’ wine industry is seeing a growth spurt, and small wineries such as Longhorn Cellars can find it challenging to keep up. As they aim to keep pace, they are expanding their footprint with a 13,000-square-foot production facility, barrel room and event room, wine library, and restaurant. While construction is underway, be on the lookout for exciting offerings for loyal visitors and new customers alike.