The small town of Salado is a bit like the ever-popular Fredericksburg used to be before it became one of the top travel destinations in the country. There are boutique shops, restaurants, art galleries, and wine tasting rooms. It’s situated right on Interstate 35 just about an hour north of Austin.
Salado is worth a stop, whether you are looking for a day trip, a weekend getaway, or traveling I-35 and just want a break. And one reason is Empresario Wines. Randy Duncan is a native Texan, originally from Pflugerville. Working more than 30 years in the car business, he was ready for a change.
Randy married Melissa in 2000. She is from Del Rio, which just happens to be home to Texas’ oldest winery, Val Verde Winery. The couple honeymooned in Napa Valley, a trip that solidified their mutual passion for wine. The couple dreamed of being in the wine business, so wine was the answer when Randy was looking for a new career. He went through the Texas Tech viticulture program while he started to plan his new wine business. They hoped to bring 100% Texas grown wines to the small town their family calls home. Their daughter, Mackenzie, is in college in Lubbock at Texas Tech, but while she’s home for the summer months, she’s helping at the new tasting room.
If you look back in Texas history, an empresario was a person granted the right to settle on land in exchange for recruiting more settlers to the area. The word in Spanish basically means entrepreneur. Randy and Melissa thought the name would be ideal for their project that promotes Texas wines. In addition to having wines made for the Empresario label, they are also serving an impressive array of wines. Expect to find wines from Yoder Cellars, Longhorn Cellars, Kerrville Hills Winery, 12 Fires Winery & Vineyard, and Silver Dollar Winery. They plan to regularly rotate new wines so locals and visitors will have fresh new choices nearly every visit. And to keep things interesting, different winemakers around the state make the Empresario wines, so you’ll get to experience a variety of styles and flavors.
You’ll love the family, the cozy tasting room, and the Texas wines. If the wide range of wines isn’t enough, you’ll find live music nearly every Sunday afternoon, happy hour specials throughout the week, and special events such as pop-ups for boutique clothing.