As this year comes to a close and so many of us are lucky to be sharing time with family, it seems appropriate to feature a winery that is a true family affair. Ab Astris Winery is owned by Erin and Tony Smith, who work closely with their daughter Kristen and her husband, Mike Nelson, to bring us great 100% Texas wines. Learn about Ab Astris Winery where Tony Smith answers our questions.
- What did you do before owning a winery?
I was (and still am!) a practicing Neuroradiologist in San Antonio.
- What first attracted you to wine; was there a specific bottle or experience?
I was not a wine drinker and then my oldest daughter, Kristen, began dating Mike Nelson, and his parents lived in the Central Coast of California. We started visiting out there and fell in love with Pinot Noir and Zinfandel. This experience peaked our interest in the early 2000s in the Texas wine scene. We would all get together as a family, drink wine, and wonder if we could possibly ever get into the wine industry in Texas. The bottle of Texas wine that was an a-ha moment for me was the 2009 Tannat from Bending Branch Winery.
- What is the toughest challenge in the wine industry in Texas?
Definitely, the weather: hail, heat, rain, cold. You name it, it can definitely be nerve-wracking.
- What is your favorite food and wine pairing?
This might be the most difficult question here! I recently had a Syrah with Beef Bourguignon that was incredible!
- What is the most common question you are asked as an owner?
How did you get into this business?
- After a long day in the winery, what do you do?
I enjoy spending time with my wife, daughters and their husbands, and three grandkids. I love to plant trees which you’ll notice around the property and am often tending to them. You’ll also often find me having a drink on our back patio looking out on one of the beautiful sunsets we get here in the Hill Country.
- What’s your favorite part about being a winery owner?
In our particular circumstance, I love working with my family. Outside of that, absolutely hands down our wine club members.
- What is your business philosophy?
At Ab Astris, we have two core values that we focus on with our staff: quality and kindness. I think that those two values are vital to every decision anyone makes in any facet of our business every single day.
- What would you do if you didn’t own a winery?
I would probably be retired. But I do love owning a winery, so this is a hard question.
- Do you have any advice for someone who wants to own a winery?
While it is very fun and rewarding, it is very, very hard work. Don’t quit your day job right away!