Every wine lover in the state of Texas will appreciate a wine tasting with Robert and Dilek Parr. They have a great story and love to share it while pouring wines in their Mason Parr Vineyards tasting room. They have a basic philosophy: the place matters. Something you can taste for yourself – not just in wines with the Parr Vineyards label, but in wines made by other winemakers using Parr Vineyards grapes. Get to know the grape grower Robert Parr. And then make plans for your own visit and meet this fantastic couple for yourself.
- What did you do before growing grapes?
I was an Air Force Fighter Pilot for 32 years.
- When did you first plant your vineyard, and how many acres did you start with?
I first planted in 2006, and I planted six acres.
- How many acres do you have today, and what grapes are planted?
Today, I have 22 acres planted with Touriga Nacional, Tempranillo, Mourvèdre, Semillon, Viognier, and Graciano.
- Do you farm any other crops? And if so, what?
- What first attracted you to growing grapes?
I just wanted a good bottle of wine!! While in the Air Force in Europe, my Dilek and I became accustomed to good wines with good food and camaraderie. On returning to Texas, we found it very difficult to obtain a good bottle of wine, so after retirement, we bought land and started a vineyard.
- What is the toughest challenge about being a grape grower in Texas?
There is no “one” big challenge, but many different problems which needed to be solved at once. Examples are:
- Rapidly changing weather patterns which could damage or destroy your crop.
- Receiving diseased vine stock from nurseries.
- Learning how to tend vines.
- How to provide frost protection.
- How to prevent insect, fungal, and animal damage.
- How and when to harvest your crop.
- And most difficult of all, how to find and train competent labor.
You must conquer all of these problems in order to consistently produce high-quality wine grapes year after year.
- If you didn’t grow grapes, what would you do?
Go fly fishing until I got bored, then go and plant another vineyard.
- After a long day in the vineyard, what do you like to do?
I drink a light Scotch and water and watch the sunset.
- What’s the best part about being a grape grower?
First, it gives one control of the winemaking progress. With our own grapes, we can control the quality in our own winery, and enjoy the fact that other people value our hard work in producing a delightful, honest product. But, most of all, the vineyard is a living thing, it changes with the seasons, and you can watch it grow, as annually it goes through the winter, spring, the joy of the harvest, and fall seasons; year after year, it is a marvel to watch and be a part of.
- What advice would you give someone wanting to start a vineyard today?
In most cases, I’d say DON’T!! Until they fully understood how owning and operating a small vineyard requires a significant change in lifestyle. There is little time for vacations, it is very expensive, and it is hard work (even when you have good employees). Finding a good site with proper soil, adequate ground water, survivable weather, obtaining extensive technical education, and purchasing the right equipment are requirements but seldom accomplished.