About fifteen minutes west of Lubbock, you’ll find a rustic barn situated on 55 acres with plentiful greenhouses, orchards, and grapevines. Step inside to an array of potted plants, potatoes and apples, herbs and food products, and some small batch Texas wines.
Connie and Dan Williams married in 1969 and ran a thriving family orchard in Cedaredge, Colorado. The fruit trees and packing facilities spanned 176 acres in the 1980s. Their son, Ty, went to college in 1986, and while he was away, expansion and innovation were growing the farm. Eventually, Ty made his way home, and soon after, in 1992, a portion of the fruit packing operation was sold so the family could pursue a new path in Texas.
Dan spent time in the blowing dust of the Texas High Plains to establish Top of Texas Apples and teach farmers in the area how to grow and pack apples. The two estates were thriving.
In 2011, he started to explore winemaking, and for their anniversary, Connie gifted him a barrel to produce his first wine in the basement of the apple shed. Soon after, Dan was making enough wine that they had to get a commercial winery permit to stay legal, so Williams Cellars was established in 2012. The following year, a terrible hailstorm damaged the honey crips apple crop, and Ty had the idea to create a hard cider. Dan and Ty have been winning several gold and silver medals for their wine and hard cider ever since.
Back in Texas, in 2017, grape vines were added to the estate. The original cider production permit for the property was Texas Cider. That original partnership split up, and now the property is known as Idalou Harvest. More recently, Connie and Dan moved from Colorado to help grow the estate. The Texas wines and ciders are produced under the name Idalou Harvest, while the Colorado project remains Williams Cellars.
The greenhouses grow 3,500 hot-house tomato plants, squash, cucumbers, zucchini, lettuce, carrots, asparagus, and potatoes. Peach and apple trees abound, and 10 acres are devoted to grapevines. The wine production facility is on the estate, and Dan creates about 100 cases of each of six varieties of wine each year. The wine is made only from estate grapes, so the quantities can certainly fluctuate based on weather conditions. The family story is fun to hear from Connie herself, and she is often available for a chat.
In addition to the shop where you can purchase produce, plants, herbs, and wine, Juicy Lucy’s farmer’s market is now on site every Saturday. The market will allow other local growers and artisans to offer their goods to consumers, so plan to make a visit on a Saturday this summer.
For the wines, I was pleased to see that every bottle was priced between $20 and $30. The labels are all fun dog art created by a local artist. Current wines:
- Red Head Red blend of Malbec and Tempranillo
- Ole Faithful Barbera (my favorite of the lineup)
- Happy Dog Malbec
- Companion Carménère
- Day Trip Pinot Noir
- Happiest Dog Ever Peach Wine (uses a home-made tincture from estate peaches and Riesling grapes)
For our wine friends in the Lubbock area, summer is a great time to stop by Idalou Harvest. It’s peach season, and the wines are quite nice, so belly up to the bar for a tasting with Connie.