Even with twenty-three years of experience in the Texas wine industry, you may not have heard of June Ritterbusch. She is originally from Boston, earning both a Bachelor’s and Master’s in Economics from Boston University. At the same time, she trained to be an officer in the U.S. Army. During her ten years of service, she lived in Alabama, Germany, Italy, Virginia, Korea, and finally, Fort Hood. After an exciting career flying helicopters, she married a Texan, Sheldon Vickers, and they put down roots in the quaint little town of Salado. She earned her MBA in France and returned to Texas in 2003 intending to become an international business consultant.
At the same time, she noticed the media attention aimed at the newly passed Article 16 of the Texas Constitution. The amendment would allow a winery to sell wine made from Texas grapes. And this included dry areas of the state. With a shifted determination to start a business in their new hometown, June felt a winery would be a perfect addition to Salado, and she started writing up a business plan.
Before long, she was taking classes for winemaking at Grayson College in Denison, learning grape growing from the Oklahoma Grape Growers Association, and studying to be a sommelier. June apprenticed with Les Constable at Brushy Creek Vineyards and Winery in 2005. That same year, she leased a small building in downtown Salado and opened the doors as Salado Wine Seller offering wines from small Texas producers. A few years later, they purchased a larger building that could house their tasting room and wine production, so June started bottling her wines in 2010 under the label Salado Winery Co. Her wines are made almost exclusively from small vineyards nearby in Bell County. With an annual production averaging 2,500 cases, June keeps herself busy with her own label and even makes a little wine for other small Texas wineries.
June’s wines range from sweet to dry and tend to be light to medium-bodied without too much tannin or oak. She’s excited to start working with Petite Sirah and Tannat and has bottled a sweet red vermouth just to keep things interesting.
Because Texas wine has boomed since June first started, she no longer knows everyone in the wine industry. Nonetheless, she still loves the camaraderie and relationships that make this a great business. And she especially loves introducing new wine enthusiasts to Texas wines.
The town of Salado is alongside Interstate 35 between Austin and Waco and is a great stop if you find yourself on the highway. There are a number of art galleries, boutique shops, good restaurants, and now a few different places to enjoy Texas wine. You can sit for a tasting at Salado Winery, or just enjoy a glass and some good conversation. Ask for a peek into the winery production area. And, if you’re in the know, there’s a back room with some interesting European wines for sale by the bottle at fantastic prices, although you can’t try before you buy.
Salado Winery also offers wine tasting classes and other fun events. Check out the events page on Eventbrite for details.