Tag Archives: Summer Wines

Texas Wine Party!

When the quality of Texas wine is  this incredible The Texas Wineaux has a TEXAS WINE PARTY!

Texas Wine!

My beautiful wife Margie and I love wine. Everyone that even remotely knows us understands this very well!

We were married in France and caught the “Wine Bug” while discovering the most romantic city in the world, Paris France. When we ran out of time and money, we returned to Texas and began the incredible adventure of learning about  wine and the wonders that it brings. Naturally we favored “old world wines” from France, then Italy and Spain. Then after a trip to Napa Valley with a close friend that was a Wine Rep for Glazier, we were thoroughly hooked after tasting the phenomenal wines of Napa and Sonoma Valley.

Wine became a  lifestyle by this time!

Anyone that knows me very well also knows that I am a born and bred Texan! When you grow up in Texas, we study Texas History right along side American History. The people of the Great State of Texas have a pride and love of our state that I have never experienced anywhere in the U.S.

So I have followed the Texas Wine Industry since I first tasted wine in Gruene, Texas in 1981. I do not remember much detail about what the wine tasted like, or who the producers were at that time, because I was primarily a beer drinker. But I do remember it really did not impress me much! It was sweet and red, and my girlfriend liked it. I walked over to the legendary Gruene Hall and got a beer at the “Oldest Dance Hall in Texas”.

Gruene Hall, Oldest Dance Hall in Texas!
Gruene Hall, Oldest Dance Hall in Texas!

Texas Wine production has changed a lot in the last 35 years. It was in it’s infancy back then, and everyone seemed to think Texas had to become ‘the next California’. If you remember, California wine scene was still exploding in popularity after the Judgment of Paris in 1976 where the wines of Napa and Sonoma bested the wines of Bordeaux and Burgundy.

But up until about 10-12 years ago the Texas Wine Industry was still trying to be the next Napa and Sonoma. In other words, they focused on Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot because that is what Americans were buying from California. But the varieties that do so well in Napa and Sonoma don’t necessarily do well in the arid and hot locations of Texas such as the Texas Hill Country AVA or the South Plains AVA near Lubbock. Check out great information here for Texas Wine Industry and Wine Growers in Texas!

Texas Wine has changed dramatically in the last 10 years, and even more great improvements in the last 5 years! The best of the best are no longer heading West to California to grow grapes and produce fine wine. Many have learned that if you grow the right grapes for our hot arid terroir in Texas, you can produce as fine a wine as anywhere in the world! I have become very impressed with the quality, the variety of grapes grown and produced, and the incredible commitment to the craft from the bright new producers that have really changed Texas wine.

Now don’t get me wrong… there is still a ways to go, and there are plenty of Texas wineries that produce simple and sweet wines that have little to offer the true wine aficionado. But trust me when I say that it is not just unique to Texas. I have found simple unimaginative wines in Virginia, Michigan, Arizona, and even  lot’s in California.

I have been excited about sharing my enthusiasm with the true quality of some of my favorite Texas Wines for some time. What better way to spread the word than to gather my wine club the Dallas Wineauxs for a fun Texas Wine theme at my home?

Here are some of the producers that so graciously sent me samples to share my excitement  over Texas Wine quality, and notes of the night:

Pedernales Cellars:  One of the few underground wine producing wineries in the Southwest. Frederik Osterberg is the Co-Founder and President, and David Kuhlken is also a Co-Founder and Winemaker. Pedernales produces a stellar Tempranillo that the variety seems to be perfect  for Texas terrior, and many consider to be the “Official Red Grape of Texas”. They also make a very impressive GSM, but my favorite is the Reserve Viognier which was named the Texas Top Wine and Gold Metal at San Francisco International Wine Competition! Think ripe white peaches, lemon drops, beautiful floral nose, and vibrant acidity that cleans the palate. But don’t forget the Albarino, dry white wine with notes of peach & citrus fruits & perfect acidity.

McPherson Cellars: Kim McPherson is the WInemaker and has a degree in Enology and Viticulture from UC Davis. Kim started his label in 2000 and he and his father “Doc” McPherson have been pioneers in the development of Texas Wine.  The Mourvedre is the star here! Strawberry, raspberry, ripe cherries, and rose petals with elegant structure, and perfect for grilled meats. We also agreed the Les Copains Blanc was one of our favorites. Blend of Rousanne, Viognier, Marsanne, and Picuepul Blanc. Lemony, citrus, honesuckle, clean and refreshing!

Brennan Vineyards: Brennan Vineyards produce some of my personal overall favorite Texas Wines. The winery in in the tiny community of Comanche, Texas and Dr Pat Brennan began planting first vines in 2002. He decided to produce wine soon afterward and hired  Winemaker Todd Webster. Todd has a minimalist approach to his wines  and is incredibly talented. In fact his Reserve Viognier may be my favorite Texas Wine! Dry, full bodied white wine, Honeysuckle, Meyer lemon, white peaches, floral notes, and an incredible limestone minerality that is very reminiscent of the wines I enjoyed in France. But don’t forget the Reds! The 2013 Tempranillo is outstanding. Deep Garnet in your glass, black cherry, black and blue fruits, slightly earthy, medium tannins and delicious.

4.0 Cellars: This is a Winery and Tasting Room in Fredericksburg, TX collaboration of Brennan Vineyards, Lost Oak Winery, and McPherson Cellars. Todd Webster of Brennan Vineyards produced a terrific Mourvedre and sent me a bottle, and was one of the favorites of the night as well! 78% Mourvedre and 22% Ruby Cabernet. Ripe red wine with notes of Smoky meats, root beer, raspberries, blackberry, and slightly earth. I need another bottle Todd! The 4.0 Tasting Room is a must stop when in Fredericksburg.

Wedding Oak Winery: One of the new kids on the block in Texas Wineries, they began producing wine in San Saba in the Hill Country in 2012 but have made a true name for themselves in a very short time with real quality wines. Wedding Oak sources  grapes from the Texas Hill Country and High Plains AVA. One of our favorites of the evening was the Hill Country Sangiovese. Winemaker Penny Adams blends a bit of Tannat and Petite Verdot for structure. Soft palate, ripe black cherry, tart strawberry, and a nice grip of tannins.

Spicewood Vineyards: Spicewood sent several yummy wines to sample, but the favorite was a truly special Rose of Mourvedre that was a big hit! Very light in color, floral on the nose with notes of strawberry, and tropical fruits on the palate. Juicy and vibrant with perfect acidity. This wine begs for BBQ on the patio or pool time! The Temranillo sourced from the High Plains AVA was impressive as well. Juicy red and black fruits, red plums, and med tannins. Ron Yates is the Owner, and President. and Todd Crowell is the Winemaker. His commitment to the great wines of Texas is very evident in his delicious wines.

A great time was had by all, and I want to thank all our close friends and the Dallas Wineauxs for bringing lots of terrific foods to nibble on during the night!

And a HUGE thank you to my beautiful wife Margie for setting a great table!

Texas Wine Party at the Texas Wineaux Home!
Texas Wine Party at the Texas Wineaux Home!

Here are a few pictures from the evening:

Texas Wines
Texas Wines
Wedding Oak Syrah
Wedding Oak Syrah

Video Texas Wine

A big thank you goes out to all the featured wineries for sending samples to share and to share the greatness of TEXAS WINE!

Thank you for reading my ramblings of a Texas Wineaux and check back from time to time for new articles.

Terry Hill

Please leave a comment!

Chill Wine Quickly

How to quickly chill wine

Rose is made for Summer!
Rose is made for Summer!

Did you ever need to chill down a bottle of wine quickly? If you have not visited Texas in July I am sure you have heard…  it is warm (no hot!) in Texas during the summer months. I understand many of our close friends drink red wine year round and rarely consume white wines. Unless we are grilling steaks or smoking a brisket, Margie and I drink white or chilled rose wine almost exclusively during the warm summer months.

I am a “red wine in winter & white or rose wine in summer” kind of guy!

Picture this: One of our close friends call to ask if it is ok to “drop-by” to say hello and catch up with us. They know they are always welcome, and we ALWAYS have great wine at our home. Even though I have 3 wine fridges with one dedicated to white wines only that is set at 45-F, it seems the bottle of white wine I want to drink is not in the white wine fridge. Or we have one in the white wine fridge to open and pour, but that is only 4 glasses per bottle so we need another bottle chilled quickly!

Here is the solution: Wet a dish towel with water until it is wet but not dripping. Wrap it around the bottle of wine. Then put the wrapped bottle in the freezer. In10-15 minutes your bottle of wine will chill to a perfect 42-45 degrees and good to pour!

Why this works: The freezer alone will chill wine. But the wetness of the towel conducts and holds the coldness better, therefore it will chill the wine inside quicker!

I hope you enjoy this quick tip to chill wine. I will be adding this feature from time to time to assist you in enjoying your wine even more. So stop by often for new content!

Thank you for reading the ramblings of the Texas Wineaux, and please leave a comment below!

Terry Hill is the Texas Wineaux!


Summer and Picnic Wines

Happy Couple 2011

Well, summer will be here officially as of June 21st. And with the weather turning warmer and warmer every week, thoughts often turn to; picnics with friends, family reunions, boating, lounging at the pool, and vacations at the beach. More often it is simply grilling in the back yard or on the patio of our home. The old stand by (at least for me) was ‘red wine in the winter and cold beer in the summer months’. And don’t get me wrong, I still like a really cold beer after working in the garden on a hot July day in Texas! But the more I have gotten completely enamored with this wonderful thing called wine, the more I have searched for a replacement to that beer standby. I now prefer lighter styles of red, dry fruity rosé, and crisp and palate cleansing white wines when the weather heats up.

Now don’t get me wrong. There is nothing I like better than a BIG in-your-face red wine! In fact, over 80% of my current collection is just that; big bold reds. I don’t know about you but the hearty robust red wine that I love so much during the long cold winter is not what I crave when the temperature rises above 80-F (26.6 C). In Texas the temperature will often reach 85-F in April, and by the time June and July comes rolling around it is not unusual to see temperatures in the 95-100+ degrees Fahrenheit! I am looking for something that is more refreshing and easy to drink, especially when I am entertaining outdoors.

So…here are a few suggestions for your consideration: 


I still very much love my red wines, especially since I fire up the grill several days per week. If grilling a steak, I still open a big bold red wine such as Bordeaux or Napa Cabernet Sauvignon to accentuate the grilled red meat. But if you are not serving steak, and just lounging with friends at the pool or on the patio, a lighter style of red wine such as a Gamay from Beaujolais fits the bill perfect.  

There are three basic styles of Beaujolais: Beaujolais AOC, Beaujolais-Villages AOC, and Beaujolais-Cru AOC, with the typical quality and costs rising with each higher AOC. About 1/3 of the wine produced in the Beaujolais region of France is a very affordable ($7-$9) and quaffable version called Beaujolais Nouveau (new). Nouveau was a very successful marketing idea of a négociant George Duboeuf. It was designed to sell his simple wine that is low in tannins, fruity, quaffable, and is made to be drunk very early after release. It has become so popular in fact, that the third Thursday in November each year is the official release date for Nouveau, and the bistros in Paris put signs in there windows to announce: “Le Beaujolais Est Arrive!”. 

As a testament to how well Beaujolais fits warmer weather, wine expert Karen Macneil described Beaujolais as “the only white wine that happens to be red”. In fact, it should be served slightly chilled: Nouveau at 52-F (11-C), and Village AOC slightly warmer at 56-F (14-C). In France it is customary to soak the bottles in buckets of ice water before bringing them to picnics! 


Now I am NOT speaking of the sweet pink-colored “White Zinfandel” that was so many of ours first experience with wine. Come on now; let me see a show of hands for those of us that once loved Beringer White Zinfandel…yes I see you cowering in the back! There is nothing to be ashamed of, as very few of us were fortunate enough to start out drinking Grand Cru Bordeaux. Most of us started with what tasted good, and then developed our palate later on. And let’s face it… White Zin tasted like an adult Kool Aid! 

How is rosé made? Rosé wine is typically made from black skinned grapes. After the crush, the juice is left in contact with the skins and stems (must) for a very short time, often only 12-36 hours. Then the must is removed and discarded instead of left in contact throughout the fermentation process. Since the red color and tannins come from the skins and stems, rosé wine will be lighter and less tannic than their red cousins. Depending on the style and grapes, rosé should be served chilled similar to other white wines; 42-45 F (5.5-7.2 C).  

 Rosé can be the most food friendly wines period. Don’t be afraid to serve them with anything from salads, to grilled fish, to Asian food. There are as many different rosé syles as there are red grapes, but keep a look out for a few of my personal favorites: 

Rhône, France; Tavel AOC in Southern Rhone is arguably the most famous region in the world for rosé, and in fact Tavel AOC is required by French law to produce only 100% rosé. They tend to be very dry and have more structure than most rosé wines. Grenache is king in Taval and can by law include up to 60%. However most producers will stay in the 45% Grenache with 15% Cinsault  and the remainder of the wine permitted to include Carignan, Syrah, Bourboulenc, Calitor, Mourvedre and Picpoul. Think rugged fresh wines with spice and berry notes. Serve closer to the 45-F (7.2-C) area for best results. Look for good producers such as E. Guigal or Domaine De La Mordoree.

Cote du Provence, France; Possibly the second best known area in the world for rosé. Domaines Ott is by far the best known producer. Ott can be found in the $18-$45 range, and are blends of Grenache, Cinsault, and Syrah. If you are hobnobbing with the rich and famous in the French Riviera it is very common to see bottles of Domaines Ott rosé! But any Bistro in Provence will have tables of Rose everywhere you see.

Languedoc, France is known for excellent rosé and usually at exceptional values. They will be blends of Grenache, Syrah, and Cinsault, Mourvedre, and Carignan grapes. Look for one of my favorite producers Domaines de Nizas. Their wines will be lively, crisp, with a smooth palate with notes of red fruits, Clementine, candy, and violets.

Burgundy, France; My absolute favorite rosé is from Chablis, and is a sparkling wine called Cremant de Bourgogne. It is 100% Pinot Noir, crisp, bubbly, acidic, fresh, and vivacious! They are typically dry, fruity, and are one of the most food friendly wines in the world! Look for Simonnet-Febvre Brut Rose. Try it and I think you will agree. 

Spain; The famous “Rosado” rose wines from Spain are not to be missed, and can be phenomenal values. Like the French versions they tend to be very dry, but fruity. Ernest Hemingway was known to “love my Rosado!” Like the French versions, Rosado is primarily made from Garnacha (Grenache). Distinctly dry, for sure, but bright and fruity, too. The dryness means it goes well with savoury, salty food but that red-berry definitly will be evedent. Best of all; It’s inexpensive too at $7-$ per bottle! Look for Torres Viña Sol Rosé, Cune Rioja Rosado.


I love talking about wine (often to a fault) with just about anyone that will listen. Often I will be asked to recommend a ‘good wine’. I ask them “red or white”? Very often I hear “I don’t drink white wine, I only like red wine”. My first question to them is always the same:


What I have discovered often is really do not have a concrete answer except: “that is what I like”. That is acceptable, as everyone has the right to their own likes and dislikes. But I have a theory; these same people (especially men) perhaps because of their inexperience, perceive that all white wine tastes like the typical fat and buttery California Chardonnay, and they do not care for it (neither do I ). Maybe they have never been exposed to the many other white varietals that are refreshingly dry, crisp, and incredible such as a steely Chablis or New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc? 

Now don’t get me wrong, even my beautiful wife Margie loves that big buttery California Chardonnay, and it has been one of the best selling varietal style sold in the world for quite some time. So who am I to dispute what is good and what is not? The public demands it or it would not sell as well as it does. 

But for many folks that don’t like the “butter bombs” as they are sometimes referred to, there are many alternatives to consider. One of the fastest growing segments in the wine world is “going old school” with Non-Oaked versions of Chardonnay. They will typically be more Burgundy Blanc or “Chablis like” with less butter, vanilla, and oak notes, and more mineral and terrior driven. This is because they are often fermented in stainless steel tanks and the Maloactic fermentaion is either limited or halted all together. In other words, the terrior is more evident because the judicial use of new oak doesn’t cover up the real wine. 

Here are a few regions and white wines producers to consider: 

White Burgundy: Bourgogne Blanc will be nearly always Chardonnay. While I do love the Montrachet’s, very few of us can afford to drink this incredible wine very often, let alone serve it at a BBQ to a large group! But you can afford some of the lesser regions such as Maconnais, and the wines of Macon Villages AOC. These will typically cost in the $10-$20 range depending on the producer. Macon wines will normally show aromas and notes of grilled nuts, vanilla, crisp apple, pineapple, and even pear. If you are not familiar with lesser known producers, stick with the better known négociants such as Louis Latour or Joseph Drouhin for dependably good results.

New Zealand: The second most popular white wine worldwide is Sauvignon Blanc. And the Marlbough of region of NZ is one of the best producers of this refreshing, palate cleansing, and easy drinking white wine. They will typically be light, crisp, and have notes of sweet red grapefruit, gooseberry, pineapple, and at times a little grassy. If you have a spicy shrimp or fish dish that does not have a buttery sauce, the acidity in a NZ Sauvignon Blanc is perfect! Look for Kim Crawford, Cloudy Bay, or Brancott for consistent quality.

California: While the California Chardonnay bandwagon of big buttery Chardonnay is starting to wane in popularity, there are some phenomenal unoaked Chardonnays coming out of areas such as Russian River, Sonoma from such producers as Martin Ray and Williams Selyem. You may also look for other alternatives to Chardonnay such as Viognier. This is a classic Rhone varietal that is seeing tremendous growth in California over the last few years. Try Cline California Viognier. It has a burst of orange blossom, pear, and a hint of grapefruit. Nice richness yet refreshingly acidic and is medium dry. Best of all? You can buy this wine for under $14!


Another favorite of mine is Girard Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc. I buy wine sometimes 2 cases at a time, and it is my everyday drinker during the hot summer months in Texas. Clean, crisp, but lush with aromas of citrus zest, pineapple, and guava, turning to flavors of grapefruit and lemon zest. With case discounts it will cost as little as $12-$14 per bottle and is a great buy for a terrific wine! 

Texas: OK…I know what you are thinking: ”the home boy has to give his home state of Texas credit” But that just isn’t true (ok…maybe a little true!). The Texas Hill Country area just west of Austin and San Antonio is the second most visited wine producing area in the United States. Every year the creative Texas winemakers are making better and better wines, and some are quite impressive indeed. My personal favorite is Becker Vineyards in Fredericksburg, TX. Fredericksburg was established in 1846 by German immigrants so the Hill Country area is distinctly Texas with a definite German base. Becker plants large fields of lavender, so the aromas around the winery are reminiscent of Provence. They offer a wide selection of white wines, but my favorite whites wines are; Gewurztraminer, Chenin Blanc, and Fume Blanc. The Viognier is also one of the best sold wines in their portfolio. If you cannot find them at your favorite wine store, you can find them at www.beckervineyards.com . 

Other great Texas Wines to consider: Duchman Family Winery Vermentino is citrus and mineral-driven, crisp acidity with a touch of lemon zest will clean your palate all summer!  Brennon Vinyards makes a phenominal wine called”LILY”, a blend of white Rhone varietals Roussanne (59 %), Viognier (23 %), and Grenache Blanc (18 %). Fragrant nose of honeysuckle and ripe apricot. Finally, an impressive Albarino from McPherson Cellars. Dry and crisp with a hint of sweetness. Honeysuckle, peaches and lychee. This wine is not to be missed at about $11!

I hope you have found something in this article that you can use and enjoy. Have a terrific summer, remember your sunscreen, and Salud! 

 Terry Hill is the Texas Wineaux

  Twitter: @friscokid49 

“I have my really nice bottles of Bordeaux and Napa Cult Cabs, but NOTHING makes me sing like a canary like finding a $10-$15 bottle of wine that drinks like a $50-$100 bottle!