The Thursday before Thanksgiving saw a celebration of Texas wine. Several Texas wineries received awards from the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo Wine Competition at their annual Champion Wine Auction. As already reported by Texas Wine Lover, several Texas wineries earned several top awards and were in attendance.
This year’s Best of Herd Texas Winery went to Stonewall’s Pedernales Cellars. Co-founder Julie Kuhlken presented four of their wines that won Gold: Texas Reserve Grand Champion 2020 Valhalla (High Plains), Top of Class 2020 Malbec (High Plains), Texas Class Champion 2022 Texas Viognier, and Top of Class 2020 Tempranillo (Lahey Vineyards).
Best of Show Texas Red Wine went to Frio Canyon Vineyard in Leakey. They poured their winning 2020 Frio Canyon Vineyard Reserve Tempranillo.
Wedding Oak Winery in San Saba poured their Best of Show Texas White Wine, the 2022 Roussanne (Phillips Vineyard). Owner Mike McHenry also poured two of their silver-winning wines: 2022 Riesling Vintner’s Select (High Plains) and 2021 Sangiovese.
Best of Show Rosé wine went to Lubbock’s own McPherson Cellars for their 2022 Les Copains Rosé (High Plains). They also poured their Double Gold Petite Sirah Crookhouse Easy Block, Texas High Plains, Farmhouse Vineyards.
However, the night belonged to this year’s Grand Champion, Adega Vinho of Stonewall. Their Viognier Reserve from Vessart Vineyards was the Double Gold/Grand Champion wine. Co-founders Andy and Elena Bilger with co-founder and head winemaker Michael Bilger attended the event; they shared the night with the Vessart family and the Adega Vinho staff. Along with their Viognier, they poured their Gold, Texas Class Champion 2022 Chardonnay (Hill Country), along with their two Gold Reserve Class Champion wines, the 2020 Estate Mourvèdre and 2019 Tempranillo (Parr Vineyards).
Adega Vinho’s win marked a major moment in the Texas wine industry. Most years, a California or European winery is named Grand Champion, but, for the first time ever, a local Texas winery took that prize. Their excitement was infectious.
This year’s competition was fierce, as some members of the Texas Wine Lover team can attest. Jeff Cope, Selly Wilfong, and I all judged the competition back in early October. This was even more apparent at the grand tasting at the start of the evening. The Texas wineries stood aside perennial favorites J. Lohr and Alexander Vineyards from California, Airfields Estates in Washington, Bodegas Arzuaga from Spain, and other wineries from California, France, and Italy.
The Wine Competition, like all aspects of the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo, benefits Texas students and awards scholarships. This year, two students from Texas Tech University were awarded the scholarships: George Love of Granbury and Sara Masterson of Houston. Unfortunately, the two award winners could not attend, as they were at the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association’s Grape Camp in Lubbock. One of last year’s winners, Dalton Novak (Kerrville Hills Winery) attended in their place. In addition, senior lecturer of Enology at Texas Tech University, Hill Country, Maureen Qualia attended the event.
If you wish to try these wines, many are still available through their wineries. McPherson Cellars has their Les Copains available. Wedding Oak’s Roussanne is limited to one bottle per customer, while the Riesling is only available to their wine club. Pedernales Cellars Malbec and Lahey Vineyards Tempranillo are available. Frio Canyon Vineyard has their new 2021 Reserve Tempranillo available. For others, please reach out to the wineries or visit them soon by using the Texas Wine Lover website Guide and mobile app.