While in Texas for a couple of weeks, I decided to do something I never get a chance to do when traveling on business and that is to visit wineries and be a wine tourist. So starting with the wine trail in Dallas, I found that there are at least four wineries within the Dallas city limits. They are Times Ten and Fuqua Cellars, who are actually wine warehouses turned wineries; Inwood Estate by the Gatlin Family and Calais Winery by Benjamin Calais who is French. Not really sure of how my meetings in Dallas were going to last, like most wine tourist, I didn’t make reservations for visits in advance. So of course my visits were limited to two of the four wineries.
The first winery, Times Ten Cellars is one of the four boutique wineries within the Dallas, Texas city limits. They make their wines from grapes growing in the cooler climate Alpine Texas area from a vineyard called Cathedral Mountain, which is some 8 – 9 hour drive west of Dallas. Rob Wilson and his partner have 100 acres in which only 8 are planted. They are one of the few wineries experimenting with grapes other than the French Pinot noir, Cabernet Sauvignon & company. They have Syrah, Tempranillo, and Viognier (the only white grape) which are Mediterranean climate grapes more adapted to Texas weather conditions. The vineyards in Alpine are 480 feet above sea level, hence cooler temperature than in Dallas where it can get up to 108°F.
When I met Rob, he and his partner were actually trying desperately to organize the harvesting of the grapes which ripened a month too early this year. Texas harvest is very early this year. Usually it is from late August to early September. But because last winter was very war, bud break was too early. Therefore harvest started for some Texas wineries in mid July while for others, around the first week of August. So the heat wave has complicated getting workers at such short notice.
Time Ten Cellars are a real winery that started out as a cellar room and developed into a winery. Rob told me that it was actually their clients that pushed them into the direction of the cellar tasting room turn wine bar. Before that, the location in Dallas was and still is using the receiving area for grapes collecting and the fermentation tanks for winemaking, while their cellar room is converted into one of the many tasting rooms. They have another Cellar tasting area in Fort Worth, Texas equipped with tasting rooms for larger receptions.
Two of the wines that I got to taste and liked in Tens Ten Cellars are the Cathedrale Mountain Vineyards Syrah, Grenache, Tempranillo 2009 blend. This is a minty, fruity, spicy wine with a nice firm tannic structure that softens as you drink the wine. The Cathedral Mountain Vineyards 2009 Tempranillo is a dark red wine with jammy black fruit, spicy and chocolate aromas with softer tannins making the wine smoother on the palate.
Because I called a friend to find that he was also in Dallas doing business, I told him about my mission to visit Dallas wineries and how I was having little success. He mentioned that he knew Fuqua Winery owners and that he would be visiting them that same evening. So after a few phone calls later, he got permission for me to join him at Fuqua Winery.
Our gracious host and hostess, Lee and Julia Fuqua of Fuqua Winery not only are distributors with a warehouse within Dallas city limits, but they also make their own wines. They purchase some of their grapes from Texas grape growers and the rest from California. One of the many wines I got a chance to taste that evening was their wine which won a double gold in its class and the best of its class at the 2012 San Fransico Chronicle Wine Competition, the Cavalier Tawny Port. A very nice desert wine giving aromas of dried figs and plumes, caramel and walnuts. A great wine to serve with the cheese platter that Julia had prepared. It is also very good all by itself as a desert, with or without the chimney!