6 North Texas wineries where we like to sip, savor and linger
We love to gather a group of friends and linger over a glass of wine (or two) and savor some good conversation. Even better: We like to explore our area’s local winemaking scene. Some of these winemakers use Texas grapes; others get their fruit from elsewhere. But all are dedicated to their craft and happily share their passion and their pours.
Okay, so it’s right off Highway 121 in Grapevine. A gorgeous French chateau. Surrounded by rows of lush, green vines heavy with fruit. And it’s so close to the highway you can hear the cars zooming by.
Despite its improbable location, Delaney Vineyards is a beautiful little oasis in the middle of the concrete suburban sprawl. Owner Jerry Delaney copied the architecture from a French chateau he fell in love with while traveling. It certainly sets the right mood as you make your way through the massive wooden doors to the tasting room.
Much of the wine is estate-grown. In addition to the small vineyard on the Grapevine property, Delaney grows several varietals in his Lamesa Estate Vineyards in West Texas.
For a new experience, try the 2010 Cynthiana ($24.99) made from Norton grapes grown in the Grapevine vineyard. It’s a fruity red that pairs well with barbecue.
Do not miss the harvest party in late August or early September (depending on harvest), when you get your chance to don the Lucy costume and stomp grapes.
French winemaker Benjamin Calais moved to Dallas for an office job, but he decided to bring a bit of his roots to his new home in Texas. He opened Calais Winery in Deep Ellum four years ago using French winemaking techniques, sourcing primarily California or imported grapes.
Today, the majority of Calais wine is made with Texas grapes. The Cuvee du Manoir Tempranillo 2010 ($35/bottle) is sourced from a single vineyard in West Texas. Calais wanted to retain as much of the stylistic characteristics of the soil and terroir as possible; the wine is bottled totally unfiltered. Although it still needs to be cellared a few more years to reach its full potential, this is a prime example of what Texas Tempranillo will be known for — concentrated fruit, earth and spice.
We also love the Cuvee Principale 2011 ($22/bottle). Made from Roussanne, a Southern Rhone white varietal, it is also becoming a Texas stand-out, with hints of honey and pear. All the wines are made in the Deep Ellum winery.
Bring your friends and a picnic on a Friday or Saturday night. Calais is friendly and will charm you into staying for another bottle or two. It’s not just the French accent. We swear.
Times Ten Cellars
Lakewood residents don’t know how lucky they are to have a winery in their backyard. Times Ten Cellars produces top-quality Texas wine made with grapes grown in the Cathedral Mountain vineyard in Alpine, Texas.
Varietals include Tempranillo, Syrah, Mouvedre, Cabernet Franc and Grenache. However, not all of the wines are made from Texas-grown grapes. Many of Times Ten’s wines are made with California fruit. The 2008 Paso Robles Zinfandel ($14/bottle) is fruity and intense — as it should be.
It’s a small, working winery so ask for a tour. Sure, it’s a short trip, but you can get up and close to the tanks and barrels.
Don’t leave without a bottle of the 2009 Cathedral Mountain Tempranillo ($26/bottle). Get a case while you’re at it; otherwise, you will be back the next day for another bottle.
Kiepersol Estates Vineyards
Many Texas wines can stand up to some of the world’s best, but there’s nothing like the experience of tasting wine while walking through the vineyard where the grapes in your glass were grown from the soil under your feet.
Kiepersol Estates Vineyards, less than a two-hour drive from Dallas, gives you everything you love about wine country — rolling hillside lined with rows of vines heavy with fruit, a cozy bed and breakfast, even a charming little wedding chapel nestled among the vines.
Oh, and did we forget to mention the award-winning wines are some of Texas’ best?
Winemaker Marnelle de Wet Durrett is setting standards with wines like the 2008 Kiepersol Cabernet Sauvignon ($21.99/bottle), which recently won gold at the 2012 Dallas Morning News and TexSom Wine Competition. The 2010 Stainless Syrah ($31.99) is a surprise — probably one of the few times you will taste a red wine that has not been aged in oak. It is packed with black fruit and herbs and has a spicy finish. Without the oak to alter the flavor, this Syrah is a unique expression of the land where it was grown.
LightCatcher Winery & Bistro
With your first sip of LightCatcher’s award-winning Texas wines, you will know why so many people make the drive out to this winery and bistro near Lake Worth. Winemaker and owner Caris Turpen sources grapes from Newsom Vineyards, a coveted West Texas grape grower known for exceptional quality.
On your visit make sure to try the Merlot ($44/bottle) and Cabernet Sauvignon ($34/bottle). And you cannot leave without a bottle of the Orange Muscat ($100/bottle). Before you say you don’t like sweet wine, Turpen’s Orange Muscat is dry, fruity and kissed with citrus.
The winery is surrounded by trees with a patio begging for you to sit, relax and savor the wine. In fact, you might hear co-owner Terry Turpen telling you to do just that while Caris whips up lunch in the bistro.
Head out on a Jazz Sunday to listen to music while you enjoy Fabio: a pizzette with prosciutto, mozzarella, artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes.
It might seem strange to go to a Texas winery to drink wine made with grapes from California. In the case of Fuqua Winery, you would go almost anywhere for a taste.
The winery is located near Love Field in an industrial office building identified by two black sphinxes flanking the parking lot. Owner and winemaker Lee Fuqua makes different varietals every year. One year he will create a bright, unoaked Chardonnay and rich Cabernet Sauvignon; the next he releases a spicy Syrah.
The bottle to buy now is the Fuqua Cavalier Tawny Port, VAT No. 13 ($59.95/bottle). This little Texas star won Double Gold and Best in Class at the 2012 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. After seven-and-a-half years of barrel aging, classic flavors of toasted nuts, caramel and butter dominate, begging to be paired with Stilton.
Hours are inconsistent. Calling first is advised.