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Harvests of Grapes and Rosés at Becker Vineyards

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Rosés of all hues.

STONEWALL — Things were pretty in pink Saturday as Becker Vineyards hosted its annual Rambling Rosé panel.

The two sold-out sessions, sponsored by Culinaria, featured a half-dozen rosés from France, Texas and California that the panelists tasted blindly while discussing the wines and their fondness for rosé with those in attendance.

The growing popularity of rosé could be seen by the number of attendees who admitted that they had bottles of the summertime favorite at home. Several years ago, very few raised their hands when asked if they drank rosé; this year, more than a dozen hands shot into the air at the same question.

What’s the appeal?

In Texas, the eternal summer with days topping 100 for great stretches is a starter. As Richard Becker told the gathering, rosé is one of the two wines that the French served iced down (Champagne is the other). That means, dry, icy rosé is a great way to chill out.

Richard Becker inspects recently harvested grapes.

It’s also a great food wine, whether you’re serving seafood, a steak or roast chicken. As moderator Steven Krueger, sommelier for the Westin La Cantera, pointed out, it’s the perfect Thanksgiving wine, because it is so versatile.

This was brought home by a lamb dish with a spicy mustard, micro herbs and deconstructed peas and carrots, all prepared by chef John Brand of Las Canarias and Ostra.

Of the rosés sampled, four were from France, including the brightly acidic Jean-Luc Colombo Cape Bleue Rosé, the subtle Whispering Angel from Chateau d’Esclans, the Syrah-based Sybel from Yves Cuilleron, and the grenache-based Le Poussin. California was the home of the “deeper rosé “(meaning almost red) from IM, or Isabel Mondavi, which had a touch of residual sugar.

The fresh and vibrant Becker Vineyards Provençal ably demonstrated what Texas can bring to rosé.

Among the other panelists were Woody de Luna of Vintages 2.0, artist and wine lover Harold Wood, Becker Vineyards’ new winemaker Jonathan Leahy and myself.

Chef John Brand (left) and sous chef Gene Moss.

And the message of it all: Go out and grab a rosé. Find out for yourself why this is such a rewarding, refreshing wine.

Visitors to the winery, and they were out in throngs Saturday, also got to see the grapes come in as harvest time is underway. The volume is much greater this year than last year, when the drought affected vineyards across the state. But this a similarity between the two harvests: Last year’s grapes had concentrated flavor, and so do this year’s grapes, Becker said.

Richard and Bunny Becker are also putting the finishing touches on a new private tasting area that’s underneath the main tasting room. The former barrel room has a lengthy table for tastings or dinners. There’s also an area that houses a library of the winery’s age-worthy wines, a few of which date back to the winery’s early days.

The winery started 20 years ago, as one of the Beckers’ sons, Joe, said. He was on hand to offer a few stories of how his mother and he planted the first vineyards around the property back in 1992, though the first wine wasn’t bottled for another three years.

Now the winery bottles more than 100,000 cases a year in a variety of styles, such as Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as grapes relatively new to Texas, including Barbera and Tempranillo.

Workers feed grapes into the crusher destemmer.

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2 Responses to “Harvests of Grapes and Rosés at Becker Vineyards”

  1. Excellent report, John, this is always one of my favorite days of the year; tasting rosé wines during harvest time at Becker Vineyards. I am throughly impressed that year after year we taste the Becker Provençal blind side by side with it’s counterparts from France, that cost two to three times as much, and the Becker wine is as good and more offten better than the counterparts. Kudos to the entire Becker team!!!

    And, great job on the book! Everyone in San Antonio who eats needs a copy.

    • John Griffin says:

      It’s also one of my favorite days of the year. I have gotten to the point where I drink more rosé than either white or red wines, because they’re so perfect for the climate and so food friendly.

      Plus, the prices of many are still under $10 a bottle. The Becker Provencal and my new favorite rosé of the summer, Banfi, available from Vintages 2.0, both fit in that category. I picked up a bottle of the Provencal before leaving Becker Vineyards on Saturday. I probably should have grabbed more.