Don’t hate me for having insider access! I absolutely love SO many of our Texas winery owners, winemakers, and grape growers. I enjoy volunteering to help plant grapevines, bottle finished wines, clean in the cellar before harvest, and harvest the grapes in the hot Texas mornings. And because of these relationships, I sometimes get invited to events that are pretty exceptional. I joined a small group of lucky folks who visited the vineyard at Texas Heritage.
Susan and Billy Johnson started planting their vineyard in 2015 and now have over 15 acres under vine. They hoped to embrace their personal Texas heritage with a winery and vineyard to be passed down to future generations. My experience at the vineyard included a walk-through of vigorous vines, a bit more family story, a taste through their current wines, a sample of a coming wine still in barrel, and witnessing one of Texas’ gorgeous hill country sunsets. What an evening!
Susan’s family settled in Texas in the 1830s and she feels she’s always been destined for deep roots in our state. In 2002, the couple moved from Austin to Fredericksburg for a slower pace of life. They planted three acres of lavender and spent their weekends working in the field. After she retired from her full-time career with State Farm Insurance in 2013, Susan enrolled in the Texas Tech viticulture program. She dreamed of a family business to pass down to their daughter and grandchildren.
The lavender farm was sold, and the Johnsons planted their first grapevines in 2015. The plantings have been expanded and now cover just over 15 acres of grapes.
The winery was built in 2017, and the Texas Heritage tasting room opened on Highway 290 the following year, just a few miles east of downtown Fredericksburg. The location is super convenient and open daily. The spacious interior has two bars for stand-up tastings, but COVID protocols required outdoor seating for a time. The family and staff decided they liked allowing guests to enjoy the relaxed outdoor table seating with views out back, so all tastings are now seated on the back patio. Additional seating space was added to accommodate larger groups and tours. You’ll be surprised at the peaceful hill country view from the back patio. And every weekend offers live music and a great family atmosphere.
The progression has been a labor of love for the entire family – including children and grandchildren – working in management, merchandising, in the vineyard, and serving wine. And that’s just how Susan envisioned deepening her family’s roots in Texas.
Our evening was unforgettable! Here are the wines:
- 2022 Vermentino – Gillespie County – bright citrus and slight white flowers like orange blossom and honeysuckle. ($28) I already knew I liked this wine, and it was a nice refresher to get the event rolling on the warm spring evening.
- 2022 Estate Lizzie Rosé – Malbec grapes hand-harvested and grown at Texas Heritage Vineyard – crisp with notes of honeydew melon and cantaloupe ($30)
- 2020 Tempranillo – Gillespie County – one of the fan favorites in a recent Texas Tempranillo comparison by Texas Wine Lover in early June ($42)
- 2020 Cabernet Sauvignon – Hoover Valley Vineyard, Texas Hill Country – blackberry, tobacco and a hint of bell pepper. Richer than many Texas Cabs ($38).
- 2020 Old 300 – blend of Alicante Bouschet and Malbec from the estate vineyard – bold and strong with a balance unexpected from Alicante ($42)
The group was also treated to a barrel tasting and some photos at sunset with the longhorns. The tasting room isn’t at the vineyard site, but during the harvest season, special events are held to allow you to enjoy the full glamour of this beautiful Texas vineyard and winery.