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4.0 Cellars, a New Winery and Tasting Room, Opens in the Hill Country


4.0 Cellars is in the Texas Hill Country.

Three Texas wineries have joined forces to create a new winery and tasting room in the Texas Hill Country. It is called 4.0 Cellars and it showcases the wines of each partner as well as a new lineup under the 4.0 Cellars label.

The wineries are Brennan Vineyards of Comanche, Lost Oak Winery (formerly Lone Oak Winery) of Burleson and McPherson Cellars of Lubbock, and they have built their new home on Highway 290, which is the second most traveled wine trail in the United States.

“Brennan Vineyards, Lost Oak Winery and McPherson Cellars have long-established roots in other parts of Texas, but we want to share our wines and passion for Texas wine with travelers and other wine enthusiasts who visit the beautiful Texas Hill Country,” says Pat Brennan of Brennan Vineyards. “We created 4.0 Cellars with a distinctive level of personal service combined with comfort that will give our guests a special Texas wine experience.”

There are plenty of spaces at 4.0 where visitors can enjoy wine.

The new winery and tasting room offers several areas where visitors can relax, enjoy wine and take in the Hill Country scenery, including:

• A 5,000-square-foot tasting room with concrete counter top, stained concrete and bamboo floors to accommodate groups

• A private tasting room that can be reserved for tastings, wine pairings, wine dinners and other events

• An outdoor, covered front porch for enjoying wine and summer breezes

• An outside full-service wine bar to order wines by the glass or bottle to enjoy on the spot, adjacent to the special events pavilion

• A special events pavilion for weddings, receptions, and parties, which has an outdoor fireplace for cool winter days, stained concrete floors, exposed cedar ceilings and steel beams

• Casual seating under a canopy of large oak trees adjacent to the tasting room

The winery also includes a 2,006-square-foot wine storage facility and space for making the 4.0 Cellars wines, the first of which will be a sherry that will be produced in Lubbock by Kim McPherson and bottled at 4.0 Cellars.

The Hill Country landscape provides a beautiful setting.

“Together, we bring more than 50 years of winemaking experience and hospitality to this new venture, which will introduce travelers and wine enthusiasts to our high-quality wines,” says Gene Estes of Lost Oak Winery, which just won a Double Gold Medal for its 2010 Viognier at the prestigious San Francisco Chronicle International Wine Competition and Gold (and Texas Champion) at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo International Wine Competition.

All three wineries are well-known for their award-winning wines, with the 2010 McPherson Roussanne awarded Best in Class and Gold at the 2011 Pacific Rim Competition and Gold at the Lone Star Wine Competition, and the 2009 Brennan Viognier taking home Gold medals in both the 2011 San Francisco Chronicle International Wine and 2011 Dallas Morning News Competitions.

“Coming together to create 4.0 Cellars grew out of all three of us having a dedication to making the best wine from quality Texas fruit, and making wines from warm-climate varieties, such as Viognier, Roussanne, Albariño, Sangiovese and Tempranillo, that do well in Texas,” says McPherson.

The winery will charge $10 for a tasting of six wines plus a featured wine of the week, which includes a complimentary wine glass. The tasting fee is refunded with a purchase of two or more bottles of wine. A selection of domestic and international cheeses and deli meats will be offered with seasonal fruit and a sampling of Fredericksburg chocolates.

4.0 Cellars is the latest addition to the Highway 290 wine trail.

In the coming months, the winery will host live music and other special events. Its Dean’s List and Honor Society wine clubs offer members discounts on wines, first opportunities to taste and purchase new releases, complimentary tastings and other special benefits.

4.0 Cellars is at 10354 E. U.S. 290, Fredericksburg. Operating hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.

For more information, go to www.FourPointWine.com or call the winery at (830) 997-7470 or toll free at  1-855-480-WINE (9463).

You can follow 4.0 Cellars on Facebook and Twitter @FourPointWine for news about events and new wine releases.

 

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Texas Wineries Shine at Various Competitions


Texas wines have shown well in recent competitions.

It’s been a good season for Texas wineries in competitions. Numerous producers from the Hill Country, the High Plains and beyond have brought home gold, silver and bronze medals. There was even a double gold for Flat Creek Estate.

Here are some of the winners of three competitions, the Long Beach Grand Cru, the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and the San Francisco International Wine Competition.

Congratulations to all of these wineries, who were competing against the likes of Italy’s Castello Banfi, France’s Champagne Collet and Nicolas Feuillatte, Washington state’s Col Solare, and Napa Valley’s Newton Vineyards and Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars:

2011 Long Beach Grand Cru

Becker Vineyards:

  • 2009 Barbera Reserve – Bronze
  • 2009 Claret – Bronze
  • 2009 Merlot Reserve – Silver
  • 2010 Albariño – Bronze
  • 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah Reserve – Silver
  • 2010 Grenache Reserve – Silver

2011 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition

Bar Z:

  • 2004 Newsom Vineyard Texas High Plains Cabernet Sauvignon – Bronze

Becker Vineyards:

  • 2009 Fumé Blanc – Bronze
  • 2009 Texas Provencal – Bronze
  • 2008 Texas Claret – Silver

Brennan Vineyards:

  • 2009 Texas Viognier – Gold
  • 2008 Texas Cabernet Sauvignon – Silver
  • 2008 Texas Austin Street Red – Bronze

Bruno Collection:

  • Texas Cardinal Cranberry Wine – Silver

Grape Creek Vineyards:

  • 2009 Muscat Canelli – Silver
  • 2009 Texas Cuvée Blanc – Bronze
  • 2009 Cabernet Blanc – Bronze
  • 2008 Bellissimo – Silver
  • 2008 Mosaic – Bronze
  • 2008 Cabernet Trois – Bronze
  • 2008 Texas Cab/Syrah – Silver
  • Texas Port – Silver

McPherson Cellars:

  • 2009 Viognier – Silver
  • 2009 Texas Rosé of Syrah – Gold

Singing Water Vineyard:

  • 2008 Texas Texas Reserve – Bronze

White, red, sweet and dry - Texas has won wines in all categories.

2011 San Francisco International Wine Competition

Brennan Vineyards:

  • 2009 Buffalo Rhône – Silver
  • 2010 Viognier – Bronze

Duchman Family Winery:

  • 2009 Vermentino – Silver
  • 2009 Bianco – Silver
  • 2009 Dolcetto – Bronze
  • 2009 Aglianico – Bronze

Flat Creek Estate:

  • 2010 Viognier – Double Gold
  • 2009 Syrah – Gold
  • 2010 Pinot Grigio – Silver
  • 2010 Muscat Canelli – Silver
  • 2010 Rosé of Sangiovese – Bronze

Lone Oak Winery:

  • 2008 Tempranillo – Bronze

Pilot Knob Vineyard:

  • 2010 Sweet Rosé – Silver
  • 2010 Viognier – Bronze

Sandstone Cellars Winery:

  • 2009 VIII Red Blend – Silver
  • 2006 Touriga IV – Bronze

Sister Creek Vineyards:

  • 2010 Muscat Canelli – Silver
  • 2009 Red Blend – Silver
  • 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Sangiovese – Bronze
  • 2009 Red Blend – Bronze

Torre di Pietra:

  • 2009 Blanc du Bois Reserve – Bronze

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Wine Dinners for All Tastes Are Happening Thursday


Culinaria, the city’s food and wine festival, gets under way this week with a series of events designed for every taste. On Thursday, four wine dinners and a tequila dinner have been scheduled for a number of restaurants around the city.

The wine dinners will be at Las Canarias, the Lodge Restaurant of Castle Hills, Max’s Wine Dive and Francesca’s at Sunset, wihle chef Johnny Hernandez is hosting an Ambhar Tequila dinner.

David Launay, director of Chateau Gruaud Larose; Jean-Christopher Calvet, president of Aquitaine Wine Co.; and Dr. Richard and Bunny Becker of Becker Vineyards will host the six-course dinner at Francesca’s at Sunset in the Westin La Cantera, 16641 La Cantera Parkway. Highlights include wild salmon and prosciutto with Chateau St. Andre Corbin 2007; South Texas Antelope with Larouse de Gruaud 2007 and Becker Vineyards Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2009; and Texas Akaushi Beef with Foie Gras and Chateau Gruaud Larose 2006. Dinner is at 7 p.m. Cost: $110 a person plus tax and tip. Call 210-558-2253 for reservations.

Las Canarias at La Mansion del Rio, 112 College St., will feature the wines of Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars in a four-course meal plus cocktail reception. Highlights include Georges Bank Skate Wing with Karia Napa Valley Chardonnay 2008; Lavender Honey Lacquered Breast of Sonoma Duck with the Napa Merlot 2006; and Strube Ranch Wagyu with Artemis Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 and Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District 2007. Dinner begins at 7 p.m. Cost: $85 a person plus tax and tip.Call 210-518-1017 for reservations.

The Lodge Restaurant of Castle Hills, 1746 Lockhill Selma, will present wines from Erath of Oregon and Texas’ McPherson Cellars. highlights include Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho with Goat Cheese, Brioche and Basil with Erath Pinot Gris; Seared Diver Sea Scallop with Spring Farmers Market Palate and McPherson Viognier; Duo of Duck with Yukon Potato-Foie Gras Agnolotti plus Erath Pinot Noir and Erath Pinot Noir Estate Grown; and Porcini-crusted Sous Vide of Rack of Lamb with both McPherson Sangiovese and McPherson Tre Colore. A pre-dinner reception begins at 6:30 p.m. Cost: $85 a person, plus tax and 20-percent tip. Call 210-349-8466.

For information on the dinner at Max’s Wine Dive, call 210-444-9547. For information on Hernandez’s tequila dinner, call 210-822-9555.

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10 Texas Wines to Tempt Your Taste Buds


Gary Gilstrap of Texas Hills Vineyards pours a taste of his Tempranillo. What Texas wines are you pouring?

The calendar tells us that October is Texas Wine Month, but many of us “loca-pours” — the wine-loving equivalent of a locavore  — have been enjoying the state’s rich bounty all year long. The following is a list of 10 Lone Star wines worth seeking out. Many are at fine wine shops in the area. Others are available only at the winery or online.

Raymond Haak of Haak Winery

The list could stretch on an on to include selections from many of the state’s other fine wineries, such as Fall Creek, Brennan, Pedernales Cellars, LightCatcher and Inwood Estates. These are just to get you started.

1. Haak Winery Blanc du Bois (Dry) 2009 — The winery from Santa Fe, Texas, is gaining international recognition for its Madeira, which is standing up quite well alongside those from Portugal. But it is also doing some wonderful things with Blanc du Bois, a grape that resists fungus and disease while thriving in Texas. The grape’s flavors and aromas conjure images of tropical fruit blend, which means it’s at home in both sweet and dry versions. Haak attempts to please all palates, even using it in his Port of Call dessert wine. My favorite is the dry version, clean and delightful in the heat. (HaakWine.com)

2. Perissos Vineyard and Winery Texas Hill Country Viognier 2007 — Breathe in the aroma of honeysuckle, with perhaps an extra dose of honey. Then taste the peach and stone fruit with a touch of citrus that swirl across your palate in a medium-bodied treat that leads to a clean finish. Refreshing. (PerissosVineyards.com)

3. Stone House Vineyards Claros Norton 2008 — Norton is a grape that seems resistant to freezing, hail and flooding. Sounds almost too good to be true, right? Yet this varietal has done well in Virginia, where the results are rustic and rugged. This Texas version is much lighter and cleaner, both of which are welcome in the Texas heat. Not overly complex, just enjoyable. (StoneHouseVineyard.com)

4. Calais Winery Tempranillo 2009 — “The French winery of Texas,” as this newcomer bills itself, is soaring beyond expectations with its first bottling of that great Spanish grape, Tempranillo. Lush, rich, red fruit (from Neal Newsom’s much sought-after High Plains vineyards) fills your mouth with each pleasant sip. (CalaisWinery.com)

5. Texas Hills Vineyards Toro de Tejas Newsom Vineyards Tempranillo 2009 — For a persuasive argument that Tempranillo could be the state’s big red grape to rival California’s Cabs, pour the Calais side-by-side with this satisfying wine (again, lush and full of red fruit flavors). Both are made from Newsom’s grapes, so you’ll be able to experience how winemakers affect the wine making process. Get the grill ready, because a big ol’ hunk of steak should be part of the equation. And that’s no bull. (TexasHillsVineyard.com)

6. Sandstone Cellars Winery VI 2008 — This wine is a blend of European grapes made in a style that isn’t trying to emulate California, Washington or even its Texas neighbors. It’s more Old World in its earthy tones, which mingle elegantly with dark, dry fruit (think blackberry, not sweet cherry). It’s also sublime. (SandstoneCellarsWinery.com)

7. Becker Vineyards Raven 2008 — Raven is something of a departure for the Stonewall winery. The label is different. The feeling of the bottle in your hand is different. The weight and taste that fills your mouth are definitely different. This is a big, juicy blend of Malbec (75 percent) and Petit Verdot (25 percent) that packs a Texas-sized wallop. Ever bit into an overripe plum and had the juices explode in your mouth? Now, add plenty of sun-baked earth and sweet spices to fill out the inky palate.  (BeckerVineyards.com)

8. Flat Creek Estate Syrah 2008 — Fruit-forward flavors of plum and currant mix with leather and a touch of coffee on the palate of this wine, which initially seems to be a powerhouse but actually has some pleasant undercurrents of smoke and cocoa to give it complexity. (FlatCreekEstate.com)

9. Llano Estacado Superiore Rosso Viviano 2007 — This is perhaps the granddaddy of Texas high-end blends, and each vintage places consistently among the best Texas has to offer.  It’s not about tasting the mineral or fruit flavors individually. Sipping this wine is about enjoying the balance that exists among the various grapes, a richness that is neither too subtle or too overwhelming. It’s the liquid equivalent of the contentment Goldilocks had when she discovered something that was “just right.” (LlanoWine.com)

10. McPherson Cellars Grenache-Mourvedre 2007 — Some areas of Texas are ideal for growing southern Rhone varietals like Grenache and Mourvedre. Trouble is, not too many people want to take a chance at pronouncing them. What they’re missing, especially in Kim McPherson’s version, is a light-bodied yet lovely expression of raspberry and smoky spices that just loves food, whether you’re eating chicken wings, baked ham or chili. Definitely one to remember for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. (McPhersonCellars.com)

Richard Becker of Becker Vineyards

If you are seeking out these wines online, just be aware that not all of the websites have been updated. If you have a question, you may want to e-mail the winery before ordering.

What are your favorite Texas wines? Post them below. Drink Texas the next time you open a bottle, but drink responsibly.

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Wine Review: A Texas Viognier, a True Classic


McPhersonViognierMcPherson Cellars Texas Viognier 2008

Fact: Texas is known for producing some fine viogniers, and this one from McPherson Cellars in Lubbock is at the top of the heap. A crisp, clean wine with plenty of fruit flavors and a screwcap, it is full-bodied without being oily or unctuous.  Aromas of pear and apricot give way to bright acid on the tongue. Cost is $14 a bottle.

Feeling: Cut through the rest of the summer heat with a wine that’s bright and refreshing, yet sturdy enough to stand up to fall fare, such as pumpkin ravioli or corn chowder.  I’ve had several bottles of this over the past few months, and each has been a delight.

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Griffin to Go: Any Locapours Out There?


Three Texas WinesLast year, when I visited Chile, every wine list was filled entirely with Chilean wines, except for a stray French sparkler or two. A couple of months ago, I visited South Africa where the wine lists were all local, again with the exception of one or two Champagnes. In Portugal, Spain, Germany, Cyprus, and Greece, it was the same way.

Yet in Texas, the few Texas-only wine lists I know of are at brewpubs. Why are we so different from the rest of the world?

Gretchen Neuman of Vino Verve has taken up the issue in her blog (click here). She calls herself a “locapour,” the wine version of the locavore who tries to eat only locally grown food.

As she writes: “Unknown to most people in America, there is a licensed winery in every state in the union. Yet, even the Governor of Kansas in 2007 was unaware that there were 15 wineries in her state. Among those that are aware of the presence of these wineries, many have dismissed them out of hand as producing low quality products. Are they all producing outstanding products? Maybe not. But then again, neither are the wineries in the rest of the country, or indeed the world. Yet local wineries do not seem to enjoy the same kind of encouragement that local breweries have enjoyed for the last 20 years.”

I have enjoyed a number of Texas wines in recent months that are perfect for our climate and our cuisine. McPherson Cellars’ crisp, clean viognier is the perfect antidote to the sweltering heat we have been experiencing. Becker Vineyards Provençal Rosé is made for an afternoon picnic or barbecue. And Llano Estacado’s Signature Mélange, a Rhone-style blend, is a light-bodied yet full-flavored red that won’t seem too heavy this summer.

But I haven’t seen these wines on too many wine lists, even though the viognier copped a gold medal in this year’s San Antonio Wine Festival, and the retail price on the Llano Estacado is a steal at a scant $10 a bottle.

What do you think of this situation? Do you want to see more Texas-only wine lists? Or do you prefer something more diversified? What Texas wines have you enjoyed lately? Post your answers here.

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