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Jeff’s Corner 11-30-17

Howdy, Hola, and Hello.

Today is Riesling day, and I seem to have been on a mission the last few years to turn the world on to what a wonderful grape this is, and what a great wine it produces.  Our 2015 won a Gold Medal at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, and today we’ll check out the new 2016 GCV Texas Riesling.

First, however, let’s check out a little history of one of the world’s greatest white grapes.  The grape dates back at least 500 years, and perhaps as many as 2000.  Most likely it originated in the Rhine River Valley of southwestern Germany, and was documented in Alsace as “Rissling” in 1477.

The full name of the “true German” grape is Johannisberg Riesling, and we should know that there are many ”false Rieslings”.  Gray Riesling and Emerald Riesling are the most common, but we also see wines labeled Franken Riesling, Sylvaner Riesling, Sonoma Riesling, and more.  These are not the real thing.

This is our first “Texas” Riesling, with the majority of the grapes from the Bayer Family Vineyards on the High Plains, near Meadow, Texas.  It is 11% ABV, and at 2.8% residual sugar is almost identical in sweetness to the ’15 (2.9%).

Our 2016 is a brilliant pale yellow/green, and skates across our palate like an Olympic Gold Medalist.  Aromas are delicate and complex, with subtle hints of Gardenia dancing with honey, Mandarin orange, banana, and peach.

Sugar, acid, and fruit are perfectly integrated, and the wine shows great symmetry with a rich, sensuous mouth-feel.  The crisp, spicy finish lingers, and some flirting minerality adds a final touch of complexity.

I tasted this wine twice before writing these notes (darn), and to me it needs to be enjoyed well chilled, around 45*.  The acid best defines the fruit and sugar at a cold temperature; too warm and the wine becomes flabby and heavy on our palate.

Riesling is a great wine with food.  In style, it can be bone dry to very, very sweet, and excels at every range.  I just finished the last of this bottle (I’m convinced there’s not as much in there as there used to be) and I think it would be great with a really spicy Red Snapper Veracruz with black beans and peppered bacon.

Next week, zee Merlot...

Thank you and Happy Holidays!

Jennifer and I, and the whole Grape Creek team, want to wish you a happy, healthy and joyful holiday season. Seems like Christmas and the New Year always seem to bring a few moments of reflection.

We are very grateful to be part of the burgeoning Texas Wine Industry and to have experienced such an amazing 12 years since purchasing Grape Creek. From our staff and club members, to friends in the industry, it is a happy journey.

We have seen a lot of growth. Producing over 50,000 cases of wine this year compared to 2500 cases when we purchased the winery, has created a lot of change. Expanded tasting rooms and patios, advanced and larger wine production facilities, added locations, a restaurant and new vineyards have all been part of the evolution. We wouldn’t have experienced any of these improvements without our loyal club members. Thank you!

We made a choice long ago to be a wine club winery; a winery that focuses our efforts on producing great wines and providing enjoyable and unique experiences to our club members. Of course, we also love welcoming new guests who in turn become future club members.

The industry has grown rapidly over the last ten years and so have we. So much so, that we made a very conscious decision to be true to what we are, a winery and vineyard. To create an environment to explore and enjoy wine and to veer away from being a party place or bar. To be a place where wine is a pleasure, not a party.

The result? We have seen even more people join our club, and more stay in the club. We take that as an affirmation that we are on the right track. We also believe when you own a business, you want to make sure you feel good about what you offer and that you would choose to be a customer of your own business. And, we do and we would. Of course, we get to have fun continuing to evolve and improve moving forward (like the new Sparkling Wine Tasting Room coming in 2019), and we appreciate your ideas we have received along the way.

Thank you for being a club member, thanks for referring your friends to Grape Creek and we look forward to the many years to come.

Merry Christmas and Blessings to you and your families!

Brian and Jennifer Heath

Jeff’s Corner 11-16-17

Well, once again it is time for me to say RUN FOR YOUR LIVES, TURKEYS!!!  Thanksgiving (perhaps our most gluttonous of holidays, and my personal favorite), is born from starvation.

As we know, legend and history dance a fine waltz; and the story (or reality) of the “First Thanksgiving” is a little fuzzy.  I did some research and found lots of contradictions.  We’re not even sure if turkey was on the table, but William Bradford did write about how plentiful they were around Plymouth that fall, so I’m saying Gobble Gobble.

The pilgrims arrived in November, 1620. They were not seeking freedom of religion for all, but were seeking freedom to practice their religion, which was very intolerant of others.  The first year was brutal, and only about half of the 101 passengers on the Mayflower survived.

Quite possibly, none of them would have survived without an uneasy alliance negotiated by Squanto (a very duplicitous translator) between the pilgrims and Massasoit, the great Sachem (leader) of the powerful Wampanoag tribe.  The Wampanoags taught the pilgrims how to grow crops suited to the New England terrain, and fed them during their first winter.

We know that the first Thanksgiving (even though it wasn’t called Thanksgiving until the 19th century) occurred in late September or early October 1621.  This was shortly after a successful harvest of corn, squash, beans, peas, and barley.  The pilgrims were especially thankful for the barley, which was soon to be beer.

William Bradford, leader of Plymouth, said it was time to “rejoice together...after a more special manner”.  The festival was meant to be spiritual as well as celebratory, and he invited Massasoit and his family to join the celebration.  Migrating ducks and geese were plentiful, and Bradford sent four men to go “fowling”.  In just a few hours they returned with a bunch of birds for the big feast.

Well, when Massasoit’s “family” arrived, it was about 100 guests and there was not enough grub.  Massasoit immediately dispatched a few hunters that quickly returned with five deer, and a feast and celebration began that lasted three days.  The game was either roasted over fires or stewed with the veggies from the harvest.  It was most likely all prepared using Wampanoag seasonings and cooking techniques..

Well, from our perspective, turning our imaginations back 400 years can be pretty tricky.  What really brought these two very different people together for three days of sharing?  Was it curiosity, fear, or maybe compassion?  Was it an incredible innocence thinking that they could embrace such different cultures and live in peace?

What would it take for us to do this with people very different from ourselves if we could only communicate with smiles and eye contact and physical gestures?

Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  This is a time to share love and memories with family and friends and be grateful for our time together.  Food, wine, laughter, and tears bind us for too short a time.  Kath, I’m so very thankful for our love and all we’ve shared...the past, today, and the future.

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