I made plans to attend the 2023 TEXSOM Conference being held in Las Colinas located in Irving, Texas. Since it was going to be a road trip from my home in Houston, I wanted to make best use of my time visiting North Texas wineries I may not have visited before. As you plan your road trip to North Texas wineries, consider combining pleasure with business by looking into setting up an LLC for any potential wine-related ventures you’ve been contemplating. To get started, check out this comprehensive ZenBusiness LLC review for insights on easy and efficient business setup.
My first plan was to open either the Texas Wine Lover mobile app or Plan Your Trip on the website to begin my planning for the trip. Since I was at my computer, Plan Your Trip was very useful with the larger screen. I knew I could create a trip on my computer and since I had created an account, the same trip would be available on my mobile phone when I was on the road. I also used the North Texas Wine Country website so I could be sure I was visiting some of that wine trail’s wineries.
Planning the trip wasn’t as easy as I expected since there were too many wineries I wanted to visit! I tried to concentrate on wineries I hadn’t visited before and there were still too many. The issue I faced is that most wineries in North Texas are only open Friday through Sunday. That left only three days to try to fit all of them in. I did have to decide not to visit some wineries at this time and I would have to visit them when I go back north later this year. I eventually ended up with a map that was encompassing north Dallas/Fort Worth and ended in Irving for TEXSOM.
I left early on Friday and my first winery to visit was Eden Hill Winery at the Dallas Farmers Market. This was a new tasting room for me although I had been to the Dallas Farmers Market many years ago when another winery’s tasting room was inside the market. Street parking was taken so I ended up parking next to the Dallas Farmers Market building, but it didn’t look like the one I had to been to years ago. I learned later I had visited the Shed previously which was on the other side of the current building from which I parked. Tip: when visiting Eden Hill Winery at the Dallas Farmers Market, park in the garage next to it which is supposed to be free.
The tasting room was doing tastings of five wines, and I looked through the list. My goal for this road trip was to get more white wines because of the very hot temperatures that have been happening in Texas. I started with the 2022 Albariño and that wine made it home with me. Of course, I did taste a few red wines too. It had been a little while since I was at the Eden Hill Vineyard main location, but it confirmed that their wines are still excellent.
When planning my trip, I had intended to end my winery visits in McKinney for the first day. That’s because there are four wineries there now! I headed up I-75, got some gas, and the first stop was Lone Star Wine Cellars.
I looked at my previous blog post for Lone Star Wine Cellars and was surprised it was back in 2011! The winery didn’t change much from the looks of the tasting room, but the wine list had definitely increased with more Lone Star Wine Cellars wines. I met Becky Ross Dunphy and her husband Jon Dunphy at the family-owned and operated winery. The tasting room has their own wines called The Ranch Wines, but they also offer other Texas and non-Texas wines. Since I was on the quest for their Texas wines, I tasted some of their wines and they were all excellent.
Some of the names for their wines come from the animals such as whitetail and axis deer found on their 340-acre ranch called Triple “R” Ranch. The wines are actually produced on the ranch in Whitesboro, TX. The ranch has always been a private retreat, so I was excited when talking to Jon Dunphy when he said they were building a tasting room at the ranch. It has been taking longer than they hoped, but they are hoping it will be finished by the end of 2024. I look forward to making that trip!
Once you park in downtown McKinney, all four wineries are within walking distance. How convenient! I noticed with the Texas Wine Lover app that some of the wineries didn’t open until 2 p.m. and it was almost that time, so I took a slow walk around the block and next went to Barons Creek Vineyards – McKinney.
One of the tasting guides at Barons Creek is Bill Burns who recently started in McKinney. Bill and I have known each other many years, so it was nice seeing him again. He led me on a tasting of Barons Creek Vineyards wines including sparkling, white, and red wines. I then had a treat where I tasted the 2021 Campeón (Carignan and Grenache) and its older 2016 vintage. The grapes came from their winemaker D. Russell Smith’s vineyards he owns in Spain. I bought one of those!
Walking back down the street, I soon came to the tasting room of 4R Ranch Vineyards and Winery. I have been to the main winery a couple of times, but this was the first time I visited the new tasting room. We had previously written about the Barons Creek and 4R Ranch tastings rooms in December. That post gave a lot of information, so I won’t repeat it. Click over to read that and come back. I did enjoy tasting winemaker’s Anthony Mosley’s wines.
My last stop for the day was Landon Winery – McKinney. I had arranged to meet a couple there that evening and I was a little early, so I was able to get a table and learn how we could do tastings for them. They live in McKinney and even though they drink wine, they were learning more about Texas wine and the wineries in town. We had a wonderful time and Landon Winery was a good meeting place for the evening. Tip: sit close to the tasting bar because you will have to do your own serving of the wines during the tasting by going up to the tasting bar for each one.
The next morning, I first went to visit Viticulture and Enology Program Director Andrew Snyder at Grayson College. We have known each other for years but I had yet to visit Grayson College. He first took me to the building that houses the Viticulture and Enology Program where we interrupted a class in session being held by Andy Allen as I received a quick tour. It was then back across the parking lot to the Grayson College Teaching Distillery. It is a real working distillery and students get to make spirits such as whiskey, rum, brandy, gin, and tequila. I was impressed by what the Viticulture and Enology/Distillation program offers at Grayson College, and can understand how many of the winemakers in Texas who attended have become excellent winemakers.
My first winery on Saturday was Hidden Hangar Vineyard and Winery. Owner Stormy Cansler was expecting me, and she had arranged for winemaker Mark Schabel to lead my tasting. I had known something about the winery after re-reading our blog post and actually meeting Stormy in Houston at a dinner that our Texas Wine Lover Restaurant Ambassador John Harvey aka Johnny Wine! arranged. The winery started as just a vineyard growing the grapes Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Petite Verdot, Riesling, and Syrah. They decided to produce their own estate Texas wines in 2017, and today they are the largest North Texas estate winery. Mark led me through a tasting of their wines including sparkling, whites, rosés, and reds. I was impressed with the number of wines they make from those six grape varieties.
My final visit for the day was Red River Wines and Provisions. This is a winery that will officially be opening in 2024 and is owned by Krista “KK” and Scott Kristman. KK has been writing for Texas Wine Lover since 2015. She and Scott started their vineyard and will be opening their winery next year. This was my first visit to their property and my first thought when reaching their entrance was, “Wow, this is really a vineyard!” 😊 KK wrote about her vineyard experience earlier this year and is going to be writing more soon. I tasted some of KK’s wines with their friends and family, and I can’t wait for the winery to be open!
Sunday came and I checked out of my base hotel to head to my first winery, Lonesome Vine. The winery has been getting an excellent reaction in the Texas Wine Friends Facebook group and it was finally my turn to visit. The winery requires reservations so please do that if you plan to visit. Both owners Kristi Abrahamson-Tullis and Andrew Tullis were there, and it was a pleasure talking to them during my tasting. I tasted through most of their 100% Texas wines, and I knew immediately why people have been impressed. They are using a temporary tasting room that is very small, hence the reason for reservations, but they will be building a new tasting room sometime, perhaps opening next year. I look forward to returning.
I have been to Marker Cellars Winery before, but that was when they were in Alvord. The winery recently moved the tasting room to Bridgeport, so I had to see it. It is in downtown right on a street with other businesses like a brewery and distillery. If it wasn’t for being Sunday and those businesses closed, I would probably would have walked down the street to see those too. The tasting room is very nice with a large U-shaped bar plus more seating elsewhere. It was nice to see Mark Rogers again and meet Casey Prisel. I enjoyed a tasting of some new wines I hadn’t had and brought a white wine home (see, I was looking for white wines!).
It was time to check into my hotel for the TEXSOM Conference and walk across the street to the Irving Convention Center at Las Colinas where a trade tasting was to be held. The trade-only conference is always an excellent place to learn about wines from around the world through its extensive seminars and multiple trade tastings. Texas wines had a good representation with an Uncorked Texas Wines table always having two Texas wineries pouring their wines. Also present during tastings was Texas Fine Wine, Messina Hof Winery, Sages Vintage, Cheramie Wine, Becker Vineyards, Pedernales Cellars, Llano Estacado Winery, and more. It was an excellent event, and I cannot wait to attend again next year.
Overall, I spent three full days visiting North Texas wineries and I learned what the wine lovers in North Texas already know; the wineries in the Texas Hill Country are excellent, but there are other excellent wineries in this large state.