If you’ve ever wondered what the U.S. Department of Defense and winemaking have in common, just ask Elisa Jones. This dynamic woman is not only making some fantastic wines for her new label, but she is building a production facility to make sparkling wines for herself and other wineries – and she’s a ton of fun. Get to know Elisa and make plans now to visit her and her husband at Elisa Christopher Wines!
- What did you do before becoming a winemaker (if anything)?
Although I am from Texas, I lived in Washington, D.C., and worked as an intelligence officer for the Department of Defense as the Chief of Partner Engagement for the Middle East and Africa.
- What is the toughest challenge about being a winemaker in Texas?
For sure, the weather; the start of winemaking begins in the vineyard. You can go out and visit vineyards or even work on one of your own, and it will be coming along great in the vineyard. Then suddenly, a hailstorm out of nowhere…or an unexpected rain event right at harvest…or a drought. When folks say wine is made in the vineyard, that is very true!
- Is winemaking an art or a science or both?
Both – the chemistry needs to be there, but the art comes from blending and thinking of what blends would be fun or what varietals could be used in sparkling wine.
- What is your favorite food and wine pairing?
That is a hard one – Champagne or another dry sparkling wine with a kettle chip topped with crème fraise and caviar, Merlot with a steak, or even just a great wine with my friends.
- If you didn’t make wine, what would you do?
Really retire and go between Texas and France…but still hang out in vineyards.
- What first attracted you to winemaking and how long have you been doing it?
I grew up drinking wine with my dad and he would ask what I would smell/taste in it. Then on my way home from difficult assignments in the Middle East, I would find myself hanging out in vineyards in France and Italy thinking that this is where I wanted to be. I helped plant my dad’s Blanc du Bois vineyard in 2007 and made wine with him non-commercially from 2011-2020. Commercially, I’ve been making wine since 2020.
- What is the most common question you are asked as a winemaker?
In Texas: “Why do you want to make sparkling wine?” Outside Texas: “Wow, so you make wine in Texas?”
- After a long day in the winery or vineyard, what do you do?
Come home, hang out with my family, and open a bottle of champagne/sparkling wine. Every day is an occasion for bubbles!
- What’s the greatest part about being a winemaker?
I love that in Texas we have so many varietals to work with! Being in such a diverse state, we have the opportunity to make so many different things and are not limited to one or two varietals. Secondly, even though it is very expensive and challenging, I am thrilled to be making traditional method sparkling wine from Texas fruit. It is a real dream come true for me.
- What is your winemaking philosophy, that is, what are you trying to achieve with your wines?
I try to show my passion for winemaking in each wine that you taste. I believe in working to improve quality with each vintage and promoting that, “yes, Texas really can make great wines!”
- Anything else you would like to add?
Growth for the Texas wine industry is not possible without the consumer. So, drink Texas wine, ask for Texas wine in your favorite restaurants, and keep introducing your friends to Texas wine.