Spanish-style Wines in Texas!


By Melba Allen

I started this blog two months ago, but when  finished, it was five pages long! There were so many memories that we’ve shared with Rick and Madelyn that it was too difficult for me cut out passages. So here is a short synopsis of our adventures together.

Madelyn and Rick Nabers are the proud owners of Flat Creek Wineries of Marble Falls, and 80 acres Estate, located somewhere in the heart of the Texas hill country not far from Austin, the Capital. Named for the Creek, which runs from just north of the property and ends in Lake Travis, the Estate is surrounded by breath-taking scenery.

Madelyn and Rick Nabers are the new kids on the block in Texas. However, coming from the agricultural areas of Iowa, they are no strangers to working the land. They fell in love and bought Flat Creek because of its surrounding beauty and then started to make wines in 1998. While everyone planted  mostly grapes coming from popular French wine regions, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon blanc and Chenin blanc, the Nabers where planting  grapes coming from the southern part of Europe like southern France, Spain and Italy. Red grapes such as the Tempranillo, Syrah (Shiraz), Sangiovese, and white grapes such as the Viognier, Muscat Canelli, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Blanc and several Portuguese Port varietals do well at Flat Creek. With 20 acres of vines planted of these grapes, makes some of the best wines in Texas.

 Retiring quite young from the Energy Industry, Rick knowledge helped to set the pace for innovation, while Madelyn with her cheerful smile and soothingly calm voice is the force behind developping the Flat Creek’s Image and welcoming Committee. I love going to Flat Creek, because it reminds me of many beautiful landscapes in the south of France and Spain. The first time I visited them at Flat Creek some eight or nine years ago, I took a group of students studying wine education from the Culinary Institute of Alain and Marie there to get a better idea of winemaking. We all had a great time learning about the Nabers and Flat Creek wines. After this visit, the Nabers and I became friends and every chance I get while in Texas, I will go to visit them and follow their progress. I must admit that I have always liked Flat Creek wines, not only because of their close resemblance to wines coming from the south of France (Rhone, Provence reds) and Spain, but also for their originality coming from Texas and the great quality of these wines.

Because Rick is not only passionate about the wines he makes at Flat Creek,
he is also extremely curious. He and Madelyn travel to Europe to learn as much as they can about the grape that they plant, their origins, their strength and weaknesses, as well as their capacity to produce quality wine in what is known as their ideal type of environment.  Each time the Nabers near France, we try our best to make an effort to meet them no matter if they come through Marseilles in the south of France or Paris, completely the opposite. Usually when they come, they like us will fill their trip with interesting vineyards to see.

The first time they came to France, they were on a River cruise coming up the Rhone through Lyon, then transferring over to the Saone River eventually arriving at Macon. Although they had a very elegant soirée prepared by the Captain of the ship for their last night, it was also the only night they were able to see them. Since we didn’t have the time to visit a winery, we decided to take them to a very nice little restaurant, typical of the French cuisine of the Lyon region, known as the Gastronomic capital of France. First of all, the restaurant was so tiny, that even the GPS had a hard time finding it. It took us through small and very tight passages where only one vehicle could pass and hair-raising winding curves. But finally, we all arrived in one piece!…

While on another visit to Europe, we met up with the Nabers in Barcelona, Spain. But this time we organized, with the help of some of our Spanish friends, a trip through the wine region of Rioja and Priorat. This too was an adventure that almost turned our great wine discovery into vinegar… But instead, we decided not to let this unpleasant event disrupt our plans.  What saved this trip wss the visit to a friend in the Penedes in Spain, Jaume Gramona of the Cava house Gramona with whom my husband met and shared Oenology classes at the University of Dijon many years ago. Jaume kindly showed us his family Cellars and Winery. After the visit, we all had an enjoyable dinner together with Jaume’s family. During the dinner, Rick brought out one of his Flat Creek wines made with the Tempranillo to taste against a Spanish wine.  We got a chance to compare the Flat Creek wine against many of the Spanish wines and found that the Flat Creek wine was just a fruity and smooth as the Spanish ones.  Rick also makes a wine called the ‘Super Texan’ (not to confuse it with the Super Tuscan in Italy) made mostly with the Sangiovese grape that is nice, smooth and rich of flavors as well.

Finally this last summer, we got to visit the Nabers at Flat Creek and  take part in their Winery’s Activities.  And as usual, another odd event takes place… As Madelyn and her team were in the middle of organizing the weekend events, where they did a great job of putting together a couple of tasting events for us and a dinner of almost 100 persons (which by the way, their chef Shawn is as awesome in the kitchen as he is cute), at the same time, they spent a very long time tracking down and finding two of their first time visitors lost only a few hundred feet, yet desperately trying to find their way to the Estate.  Once at the Estate and the calming effect that Madelyn radiates when receiving her guests, put everyone in a pleasant mood to where we were all laughing at the absurdity of the episode while sipping finally that well deserved glass of wine.  In the end, everything was wonderful!

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