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A Winery Grows in San Saba


The tasting room at Wedding Oak Winery.

The tasting room at Wedding Oak Winery.

Mike McHenry didn’t start out with dreams of owning a winery. He was a farmer, not a tasting room manager or someone who’d ever dealt with busloads of thirsty tourists. He simply grew grapes on his property near the small Hill Country town of San Saba and sold them to other winemakers, people like Jim Johnson of Alamosa Cellars.

Mike and Lynn McHenry

Mike and Lynn McHenry

But a few years back, McHenry became convinced that his grapes were good enough to base a winery on. Together with a group of friends, he opened Wedding Oak Winery on June 1, 2012, and word has spread in a few short years that his wines are well worth seeking out.

“My deal is Rhones,” he says, explaining that he specializes in French varietals such as Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Cinsault, Viognier, Roussane and Marsanne as well as Tempranillo and Tannat, all of which are proving to be adaptable to the extremes of Texas’ various climates.

McHenry hired Penny Adams to be his winemaker. She was the first woman in Texas to earn the Master of Wine designation, and her tastes seem to mirror his own in how to showcase the grapes. “They are Penny’s wines,” he says. “They are made in collaboration, but they are definitely her wine.”

The whites are fermented entirely in stainless steel, resulting in crisp, clean expressions of the grapes used, whether you’re tasting Wedding Oak’s 100 percent Viognier or its Terre Blanc, a lively blend of Marsanne, Viognier and Roussanne.

“Whites are difficult to make” that way, McHenry admits, because each one has to be “clean and well-made, without flaw.” Otherwise, it would show in the glass. So, when you encounter the refreshing stone fruit and bright acidity in the 2014 Viognier, you’re made aware of how “the grape sings,” he adds.

For a look at several of Wedding Oak’s wines, click here.

Reds, meanwhile, are aged in neutral oak barrels that McHenry buys from Bryant Family Winery in Rutherford. The end results are fruit-dense wines with touches of minerality and earthiness from the Texas soil, whether you tasting the 2013 Sangiovese or the 2013 Tioja, a play on Spain’s Rioja and a winning blend of Tempranillo, Tannat and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Wedding Oak Winery's barrel room

Wedding Oak Winery’s barrel room

Not all of the grapes needed for Wedding Oak’s wines are from McHenry’s vineyards or even the Hill Country. Some are from the Texas High Plains and occasionally from California.

His 2013 Albariño, Wedding Oak’s lone wine to be made entirely with non-Texas fruit, won the Double Gold Medal from the Houston Stock Show’s competition. It’s a beautiful wine, and it’s easy to see why most of it sold quickly after news of the medal was released. It’s also easy to see why McHenry quickly adds that he’s planted more Albariño with plans of making a Texas version as soon as the vines are ready.

“From a business standpoint, we want all Texas fruit,” he says, adding that a great many of the state’s more than 300 wineries want the same. Unfortunately, there’s just not enough fruit to go around. “We’re solving that by planting more,” he says.

McHenry’s not waiting around for more grapes to come in. He’s got plans for new projects, including one that would involve planting grapes in the Fredericksburg area.

Enjoy a taste or two on the patio at Wedding Oak Winery.

Enjoy a taste or two on the patio at Wedding Oak Winery.

He and his wife, Lynn, are heavily involved in the seven-day-a-week operation of the tasting room in downtown San Saba. It’s housed in a restored space that dates back to 1926 and is next to the 7,800-square-foot production facility, which can produce up to 10,000 cases. Current production is less than half that amount.

Each person who comes in gets a tour of the winery, and those visitors have helped make sure that all of Wedding Oak’s wines have sold out up to the new releases. While they’re in town, they can also take in the rebirth of San Saba’s downtown area.

About 2 ½ miles northeast of the tasting room, there stands a tree known as the Wedding Oak. It has been the site of numerous weddings and other ceremonies through the years. They continue to this day, celebrating in their way the natural treasures of Texas. McHenry’s wines do much the same.

Wedding Oak Winery
316 W. Wallace
San Saba
www.weddingoakwinery.com

 

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Texas Hill Country Wineries Are Awash in Medals


Bending Branch is just one Hill Country winery to be honored recently.

Bending Branch is just one Hill Country winery to be honored recently.

It’s award season in the wine industry, and that means wineries across the Texas Hill Country are bringing home the gold, silver and bronze.

According to the Texas Hill Country Wineries’ March newsletter, the following wineries brought home some medals for their efforts, and we can second a number of the awards. Just this Wednesday, we sampled the Grand Star and gold medal-winning Bending Branch Winery 2009 Tannat RF Silvaspoons Vineyard with a bison ribeye and a short rib tamal. They pairing was a thing of beauty.

The 2010 William Chris Cabernet Franc, Dry Comal Creek’s 2009 Petit Verdot and Pedernales Cellars’ Texas Viognier are a few others that will show you just how good Texas wines are.

So, sample your way through the list, and enjoy some Lone Star treasures.

Bending Branch Winery

2012 Lone Star International Wine Competition

  • Grand Star/Gold Medal – 2009 Tannat RF Silvaspoons Vineyard
  • Bronze Medal – 2009 Tannat RF Bella Collina
  • Bronze Medal – 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon

2012 San Francisco International Wine Competition

  • Silver Medal – 2010 Picpoul Blanc
  • Silver Medal – 2009 Petite Sirah
  • Bronze Medal – 2009 Tannat RF Silvaspoons Vineyard

2013 KLRN San Antonio International Wine Competition

  • Silver Medal – 2010 Petite Sirah
  • Silver Medal – 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Newsom Vineyards
  • Bronze Medal – 2010 Tempranillo, Newsom Vineyards
  • Bronze Medal – 2010 Texas Tannat

Chisholm Trail Winery

2012 Lone Star International, Texas Division

  • Grand Star/Gold Medal – 2011 Belle Starr Blanc du Bois

Driftwood Estate Winery

Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo International Wine Competition

  • International Class Champion, Double Gold – 2010 Alamo Red
  • Texas Class Champion, Silver – 2010 Lone Star Cabernet
  • Texas Class Champion, Silver – 2011 Muscat Canelli
  • Silver – 2012 Viognier
  • Silver – NV Syrah
  • Bronze – 2010 Longhorn Red

2013 Dallas Morning News & TexSom Wine Competition

  • Silver – 2012 Viognier
  • Silver – 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Silver – 2012 Orange Muscat
  • Silver – 2010 Longhorn Red
  • Bronze – 2010 Lone Star Cabernet Sauvignon
Vineyards has some medal-winning wines waiting for you.

Singing Water Vineyards has some medal-winning wines waiting for you.

Dry Comal Creek Vineyards

Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo International Wine Competition

  • Silver – 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon

2012 Dallas Morning News and TexSom Wine Competition

  • Gold – 2009 Petit Verdot

2013 KLRN San Antonio Wine Competition

  • Gold – 2009 Petite Verdot
  • Bronze – 2010 Demi Sweet French Colombard

2012 San Antonio Rodeo Wine Competition

  • Best of Class, Silver – 2009 Petit Verdot
  • Silver – 2010 French Colombard Demi Sweet
  • Silver – NV White Black Spanish
  • Bronze – NV French Colombard Demi Sweet Sparking
  • Bronze – NV French Colombard Bone Dry Sparkling
  • Bronze – NV Comal Red X
  • Bronze – 2010 French Colombard Bone Dry

Fiesta Winery

2013 KLRN San Antonio Wine Competition

  • Bronze – Savannah Rose
  • Bronze – Back Porch Sittin’

Grape Creek Vineyards

San Francisco Chronicle

  • Silver – 2011 Cuvee Blanc
  • Silver – 2011 Viognier, Lost Draw
  • Silver – 2011 Cab Blanc
  • Silver – 2011 Grand Rouge
  • Bronze – 2011 Riesling
  • Bronze – 2011 Pinot Grigio
  • Bronze – 2011 Muscat Canelli
  • Bronze – 2010 Bellissimo
  • Bronze – 2010 Rendezvous
  • Bronze – 2010 Mosaic

2013 KLRN San Antonio Wine Festival

  • Silver – 2011 Merlot
  • Silver – 2010 Mosaic
  • Silver – 2010 Cabernet/Syrah
  • Silver – 2010 Bellissimo
  • Bronze – 2010 Cab Trois
  • Bronze – 2011 Pinot Grigio
  • Bronze – 2011 Riesling
  • Bronze – 2011 Viognier, Lost Draw

Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo International Wine Competition

  • Reserve Class Champion, Gold – 2011 Cabernet Blanc
  • Texas Class Champion, Silver – 2011 Grand Rouge
  • Silver – 2010 Mosaic
  • Bronze – 2011 Viognier
  • Bronze – 2010 Serendipity
  • Bronze – 2010 Rendezvous
Many Hill Country wineries were honored in this year's KLRN San Antonio Wine Competition.

Many Hill Country wineries were honored in this year’s KLRN San Antonio Wine Competition.

Kerrville Hills Winery

Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo International Wine Competition

  • Silver – 2007 American Merlot
  • Bronze – 2009 Purple Cab (Cabernet Sauvignon)
  • Bronze – 2009 Gold Cab (Cabernet Sauvignon)

2013 KLRN San Antonio Wine Competition

  • Silver – 2009 Purple Cab (Cabernet Sauvignon)
  • Silver – Gold Cab (Cabernet Sauvignon)
  • Silver – American Merlot

Pedernales Cellars

Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo International Wine Competition

  • Top Texas Wine, Class Champion, Texas Class Champion, Double Gold – 2012 Texas Viognier
  • Gold – 2010 Texas Tempranillo
  • Texas Reserve Grand Champion, Silver – 2011 GSM

2013 KLRN San Antonio Wine Competition

  • Silver – 2012 Viognier
  • Silver – 2011 GSM
  • Silver – 2012 High Plains Tempranillo
  • Bronze – 2012 Texas Tempranillo
  • Bronze – 2010 Reserve Tempranillo

Singing Water Vineyards

2013 San Francisco Chronicle International Competition

  • Gold – 2010 Vintner’s Reserve
  • Silver – 2010 Freedom
  • Bronze – 2011 Merlot

Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo International Wine Competition

  • Silver – 2010 Freedom
  • Silver – 2011 Pinot Grigio
  • Bronze – 2010 Vintner’s Reserve
  • Bronze – 2011 Merlot
  • Bronze – 2011 Sweet Lupe

2012 Lone Star International Wine Competition

  • Silver – 2009 Freedom
  • Silver – 2010 Merlot
  • Bronze – 201 Vintner’s Reserve
  • Bronze – 2010 Pinot Grigio
  • Bronze – 2011 Sauvignon Blanc
  • Bronze – 2010 Sweet Lupe

Solaro Estate

2013 Dallas Morning News & TexSom International Competition

  • Bronze – 2011 Reserve GSM

Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo International Wine Competition

  • Gold – 2010 Tempranillo
  • Silver – 2011 Sangiovese
  • Bronze – 2010 Tempranillo

2012 Fingerlakes International Wine Competition

  • Bronze – 2010 Mourvedre
  • Bronze – 2009 Bordosso 27

2012 Denver International Wine Competition

  • Gold – 2011 Sangiovese
  • Gold – 2010 Tempranillo
  • Gold – 2011 Reserve Montepulciano

2012 Vineyard & Winery Management International Women’s Wine Competition

  • Silver – 2010 Tempranillo
  • Bronze – 2011 Miscela Bianco

2012 Dallas Morning News & TexSom International Wine Competition

  • Bronze – 2010 Lisse
  • Bronze – 2010 Montage

Stone House Vineyard

Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo International Wine Competition

  • Texas Reserve Class Champion – 2010 Claros

San Diego International Wine Competition

  • Gold – Claros
  • Silver – The Survivor

Riverside International Wine Competition

  • Gold – Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Silver – Claros
  • Silver – Riesling

Dallas Morning News International Wine Competition

  • Bronze – Claros

Pacific Rim International Wine Competition

  • Silver – Scheming Beagle Port
  • Silver – Angela’s Wish

Lone Star International Wine Competition

  • Silver – Riesling

San Francisco International Wine Competition

  • Silver – Angela’s Wish
Texas Hill Country wineries have won plenty of awards lately.

Texas Hill Country wineries have won plenty of awards lately.

Texas Hills Vineyard

Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo International Wine Competition

  • Silver – 2009 Newsom Vineyard Cabernet Franc
  • Silver – 2010 Merlot
  • Silver – 2010 Orange Moscato
  • Silver – 2009 Newsom Vineyard Toro de Tejas
  • Bronze – 2008 Port Rubino
  • Bronze – 2010 Newsome Vineyard Sangiovese

Texas Legato

Houston International Wine Competition

  • Texas Class Champion – 2009 Family Reunion
  • Bronze – 2010 Merlot

2013 KLRN San Antonio Wine Competition

  • Bronze – 2009 Family Reunion
  • Bronze – 2010 Merlot

2012 Wines of the Southwest Competition, Knoxville, TN

  • Silver – 2010 Malbec
  • Silver – NV GCP Mirtillo

William Chris Vineyards

Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo International Wine Competition

  • Double Gold & Best of Class – 2010 Cabernet Franc
  • Silver – 2011 Emotion
  • Silver – 2011 Mary Ruth
  • Silver – 2011 500 Block Merlot
  • Bronze – 2011 Malbec
  • Bronze – 2011 Jacquez

2013 KLRN San Antonio Wine Competition

  • Silver – 2011 Hunter
  • Bronze – 2010 Enchante

Dallas Morning News and TexSom Wine Competition

  • Silver – 2012 Blanc du Bois
  • Bronze – 2011 Artist

Jefferson Cup International Wine Competition

  • Silver – 2011 Emotion
  • Silver – 2011 Mary Ruth
  • Silver – 2010 Enchante

Woodrose Winery

Lone Star International Wine Competition

  • Silver – 2010 Cab/Syrah
  • Bronze – 2009 Tempranillo

Indy International Wine Competition

  • Bronze – 2009 Tempranillo

Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo International Wine Competition

  • Gold – 2009 Tempranillo
  • Texas Class Champion, Silver – 2010 Cab/Syrah

For information on Texas Hill Country Wineries, including special events, click here.

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It’s Wine and Wildflowers in the Hill Country


Who can resist bluebonnets?

The bluebonnets are gorgeous this year, thanks to the rain. And the wineries throughout the Hill Country are waiting for you to show up and celebrate. Here are a few events being planned that allow you to mix wine and wildflowers.

The three B’s

The second annual Bluegrass, Bluebonnets and Barbecue at Becker Vineyards takes place March 17-18.

The Wood Street Bloodhounds will play music from 1 to 4 p.m. Riley’s Custom Catering will offer barbecue from noon to 5 or until it is sold out. You can get at two-meat plate with two sides for $12.50 or a barbecue sandwich and chips for $7.50.

The vineyard is located off Jenschke Road in Stonewall. Saturday hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sunday is noon-6 p.m. Visit www.beckervineyards.com or call (830) 644-2681, ext. 302.

Wine and wildflowers, a perfect pair.

Head to the Hills

The Wine & Wildflower Trail through the Hill Country will be April 13-22 and will feature 33 wineries this year.

Tickets cost $40 per couple and $25 per person. Tickets include:

  • 1-3 complimentary tastes of wine at each winery
  • 15 percent discount on 3 bottle purchases at each winery
  • One bluebonnet gift bag per ticket
  • One rain gauge per ticket
  • One wildflower seed packet per ticket

For a list of participating wineries and more information, click here.

WOW’s wildflowers

The Way Out Wineries, those in the more northern part of the Hill Country, in towns such as Lampasas and Comanche, will celebrate the wildflower season April 13-15. For tickets and participating wineries, click here.

 

 

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