Horn Winery is on Highway 290, next to Hye Meadow Winery. The tasting room and production facility are tucked-in next to Vintner’s Vault, which is a supply company for wineries to purchase everything from yeast to empty wine bottles, from stainless steel tanks to new lab equipment. Inside the Horn Winery tasting room, there’s another door into Azeo Distillery. All three businesses are owned by Ryan Horn, who saw great potential in the Texas wine industry and several ways he could be involved.
Ryan started his wine career working for Justin Vineyard & Winery in Paso Robles, California. He was fresh out of high school and eventually worked his way to Assistant Winemaker. His passion for mechanics eventually led him to start The Vintner’s Vault in Paso Robles. The company supplies high-quality equipment for wineries, breweries, distilleries, and olive oil productions from start to finish.
After realizing the great potential of Texas wine, he opened a storefront of Vintner’s Vault in Hye, Texas, and then decided to open his own winery on the same property. Horn Winery began with two intentions, to showcase The Vintner’s Vault and all it has to offer the production industry and to show his interpretation of what Texas wine can be.
Ryan is a music lover, and at Horn Winery, he ties wine to music. He says, “Much like an orchestra, the finished piece is not merely the product from one person’s training, but the ability of the composer to enhance all the best attributes of each instrument and artist.” Everything from the land where the grapes grow to the steps taken to make the wine and even the aging of the finished wine is all like different instruments that result in a symphony of flavors.”
Each wine reflects a word in music, and every label pictures a different instrument. Even the decor in the tasting room is all about music. Behind the tasting room, the well-equipped production facility houses everything needed to make Horn wines, and some local winemakers can rent space to make their own wines here.
Azeo Distillery was started after Ryan learned about distillation when in Hungary. The name Azeo is short for “Azeotrope,” referring to the purest form of distillation. The goal of the distillery is to be a single stop for all the major spirits you need and to produce smooth, flavorful spirits that are enjoyable by themselves and in cocktails. The distillery in Horn’s location is a sister branch of the main distillery in California where the two vodkas are made, with all of the eight additional spirits produced in-house. You can expect a silver and gold rum, a mezcal-style agave, the flagship Black Label Brandy, apple brandy, a Fredericksburg peach brandy, and even an old-fashioned moonshine. A single malt whiskey is soon to be released, and other spirits such as gin and liqueurs are being considered to keep things fresh in the future.
Today, both the winery and distillery are run by winemaker Brad Cummins. He started his career in 2017 working in the cellar at Wedding Oak Winery in San Saba. He joined Horn in 2021 and is excited about the possibilities for growth in his own career and within these two diverse brands.
Horn Winery and Azeo Distillery are a great stop, especially when your group has people with different tastes. Both tasting rooms are open Thursday through Sunday. I highly recommend trying the newly released Albariño and be sure to ask for the vintage port-style wines, which are not on the tasting menu.