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Julie Kuhlken
 
February 5, 2024 | Julie Kuhlken

Wine Club 101: Introducing the Wine Club weekend

The new year comes with opportunities for new adventures with Texas wine, so we want to take some time to highlight the great benefits that come with our Wine Club memberships. If you’re a fan of the Texas Wine Trail and the award-winning wine we offer at our Hill Country winery, you’ll love being a Wine Club member. 

Our Pedernales Cellars Wine Club members get all the best perks, including early and/or exclusive access to limited series and newly released wines, free wine tastings for you and a friend, quarterly Wine Club pickup parties, discounts on wine and special event tickets, and insights into our winemaking process with food pairings at our new Winemaker Insights. 

We love spending time with our Wine Club members so much that we are expanding our Wine Club Release parties from one Sunday per quarter to “Wine Club Weekends'' with member events spread over several days each quarter. Members enjoy meeting other Texas wine lovers in this wonderful community of Wine Club members and our Pedernales Cellars team. Can’t make it to any of the Wine Club Weekend events? Following each release, members can stop by anytime Friday through Sunday to pick up their wine and enjoy the Wine Club exclusive menu that changes with each release.

February 2024 Wine Club Weekend

Two people standing in Pedernales Cellars Barrel Room. This quarter’s Wine Club Weekend includes special events for members only, plus a special Valentine’s-themed tasting that is open to all but complimentary for our Wine Club members. Join us the weekend of February 17-18 for the Wine Club release and pickup party at our gorgeous, award-winning Texas Hill Country winery in Stonewall, Texas, just a stone’s throw from Fredericksburg.  

Winemaker Insights: Tastings With Gourmet Grilled Cheese Pairings

We promise you won’t want to miss out on our new member-only series, Winemaker Insights.  Spend an hour or two with our winemakers, Joanna Wilczoch and David Kuhlken, when they will host a wine tasting and food pairing journey in the Pedernales Cellars underground barrel cellar. The February 17 event, curated by La Bonne Merde – a pop up by acclaimed Chef Ryan Fox and Advanced Sommelier Ali Schmidt - will pair creative grilled cheese recipes with Pedernales Cellars wines.

February 17 - Winemaker Insights, Grilled Cheese Pairings

$30 per person. Seating times are 11am, 1pm, 3pm.

Wine #1: Lyla 2022

Grilled Cheese: Pear, Fennel, Pure Luck Goat Cheese 

Wine #2: Over the Moon Rose 2022

Grilled Cheese: Aged Cheddar, Tomato Ginger Chutney 

Wine #3: THP Carignan 2021

Grilled Cheese: Braised Red Wine Short Ribs, Melty Cheese*, Pickled Onions 

Wine #4: Texas Ruby 

Bread Pudding, Dulce de Leche, Blue Cheese 

Valentine Specialty Wine Pairings With Dripping Springs Chocolate

On February 18, grab someone you love for a delectable pairing of our Texas wines with another Hill Country fan favorite, Dripping Springs Chocolates. We will offer this menu from 12-4 pm. It is free for members and $40 for non-members. 

  • 2021 Sparkling Vermentino
  • 2022 Over the Moon Rosé
  • 2019 Vintner's Reserve
  • 2020 Canted County Tempranillo Reserva
  • Texas Ruby Port

Two people at Pedernales Cellars sipping wine outside on the patio.Membership Levels

Our Wine Club is a quarterly commitment, and we will either ship you the wines or you may pick them up at our Tasting Room starting wine club release weekend. If you are wondering which level of membership is right for you, here are our Wine Club membership tiers: 

 

 

Hilltop Club

Hilltop members receive 3 bottles quarterly, winemakers’ choice. In addition, members save 20% on all of our wines by the glass or bottle. Perfect for those interested in dabbling in the variety of Texas wine we offer. Choose from a red and white wine bundle or reds only.  

Vista Club

Vista members receive 6 unique bottles quarterly, winemakers’ choice and 20% off on our wines. Vista members know what they like, and they like Texas wine. Order bundles of red and white wines or reds only. 

Panorama Club

Our Panorama Club tier is for the connoisseurs who love our wines and hate to miss out on a great vintage. Panorama members get to personally choose their own bottles in a quarterly shipment of 12 bottles. Panorama members also get a 25% discount on our award-winning Texas wines.

When it comes to Texas wine, our Wine Club provides an educational, exclusive experience that can’t be replicated. Don’t miss out on these one-of-a-kind adventures at our family-friendly, dog-friendly winery nestled atop the Pedernales Valley with a serenely gorgeous view. Cheers – we hope to see you soon!

 

Time Posted: Feb 5, 2024 at 1:39 PM Permalink to Wine Club 101: Introducing the Wine Club weekend Permalink
Julie Kuhlken
 
December 15, 2023 | Julie Kuhlken

Winter Wine Remix

Winter Wine Remix

As temperatures drop, you may find yourself turning to winter wine standbys like full-bodied reds to complement the hearty flavors and cozy moments of the season (malbec, anyone?). 

Of course we love any excuse to break open a velvety Texas Tempranillo, but we also get excited about the versatility of wine and the wide range of options that pair with all of the hallmarks of the holidays. 

Here are a few “hot” wine tips for this cold weather season that may surprise you:

Choose rosé in the winter. Lighter, higher acid wines like Over the Moon rosé  are the perfect companion for rich winter fare.  In fact,  rosé  is so special because it can pair well with anything and everything on the holiday party menu – charcuterie or cheese plates during cocktail hour,  latkes or braised short ribs at dinner, and pavlovas at the dessert tables. 

Chill your red wines: If you are choosing a red for the cooler temps, don’t be afraid to put a slight chill on it so it can really show off. Typically, red wine is served at around 65 degrees Fahrenheit, or just below room temperature. Bringing the temperature down a few degrees before serving can enhance a wine’s  fruit flavors while also taming down tannins. Try popping your GSM Melange in the fridge for a few minutes before your guests arrive so it's the perfect temp for your pairing.

Or heat your wine up! National Sangria Day is in December – surprise! This beloved wine cocktail is fruity and flexible, all about adding in fruits and spices to the wine base for a festive refreshment. The perfect sangria-esque treat for winter is Glogg, the traditional Swedish spiced wine, served warm. Our Stonewall Glögg fortifies local Texas wine with aged brandy, infused with organic spices to make a delectable holiday treat. In fact, Glogg is the only wine that pairs with fruit cake – everyone's favorite! ;) 

There’s no such thing as “cooking” wine: As you bring your menu together, you may find recipes that call for a splash or more of a red or white wine. Don’t forget: the dish is only as good as the ingredients, and if a wine is good enough to go in the pan it should be good enough to go in your glass! Skip the “cooking” wine and use the same bottle you’ll be serving at dinner.

Whether you remix your wine this winter or stick to what you know, the story of the season remains steadfast – it’s a time to enjoy good food, good company, and create (delicious!) memories. Cheers!

Time Posted: Dec 15, 2023 at 8:38 AM Permalink to Winter Wine Remix Permalink
Julie Kuhlken
 
November 9, 2023 | Julie Kuhlken

A Tempranillo Tale

From Spain to Texas: A Tempranillo Tale


On International Tempranillo Day, a brief homage to this luscious yet hardy black-skinned grape, native to Spain yet thriving in Texas, is in order. 

What more can we say, we’re smitten with this gorgeous grape and the wonderful, lush wine it produces. It’s one of our signature varieties at Pedernales Cellars, having brought home numerous awards over the years in international wine competitions. Tempranillo has won admirers from around the world for good reason. Celebrate this grape with us as we look at its trajectory from Spain to Texas.

Vineyard owners and winemakers grow these vines in many corners of the world: from its traditional home in central and northern Spain and Portugal to Australia to Argentina to right here in Texas (both in Texas Hill Country and Texas High Plains). It blends like a dream but also stands very well on its own. If you’ve ever had Spanish or Portuguese red wines, you’ve almost certainly tried Tempranillo. 

Quick Tempranillo Facts

Winemakers have long valued this mighty grape variety, for the tenacity of its vines and the tastiness of its juice. “Temprano” in Spanish means “early,” and the “illo” ending is a diminutive, so “Tempranillo” translates to “little early one,” most likely named this because it tends to ripen a few weeks or so earlier than other vines. 

Let’s look at a few key facts:

Tempranillo is native to Spain.

It dates back to at least the 9th century, according to some estimations. 

Tempranillo plays well with others! Tempranillo is the primary grape used in the famous Spanish Rioja wines. 

Portugal’s Port wines also lean heavily on Tempranillo in its blends. 

Tempranillo thrives in chalky and sandy vineyard soils and in limestone.

Spain’s Ribera del Duero and Rioja regions are known for their Tempranillo, and it is grown across Navarra and Valdepeñas regions. 

Tempranillo grows best when the growing season moves from cooler to warmer weather, ripening before its other grape variety counterparts in the vineyard. 

Tempranillo Tasting Notes

Tempranillo grapes have somewhat thin, dark skins, which makes for a beautiful ruby-colored wine.  Single varietal Tempranillo wines are fairly medium-bodied with low acidity and smooth tannins.

Tempranillo drinkers may likely notice the presence of red and purple fruit, with notes of black cherry, red currant, plum, blueberry, and raspberry along with notes of leather, smoke, tobacco, vanilla, or black pepper. There is usually a decent minerality from the chalk and limestone soil in which it grows. Tempranillo varietals are usually aged in oak barrels, mostly American but sometimes French oak. 

Pedernales Cellars Tempranillo: Spanish Roots to Cowboy Boots

Texas growers and winemakers began planting Tempranillo seriously in the early-to-mid 2000s. Neal Newsom of Newsom Vineyards and Dan Gatlin of Inwood Estates Vineyards partnered to plant the state's first commercially grown Tempranillo grapes. Pedernales Cellars was another early Tempranillo pioneer winery. David and Julie Kuhlken planted their first estate Tempranillo vines in 2007. By 2020, Tempranillo grapes made up 50% of our estate grapes at Kuhlken Vineyards, and we continue to work with growers such as Canted County Vineyards, Daniel Vineyard, and Lahey Vineyards to buy their Tempranillo grapes. 

The grape took to Texas soil like a duck to water, as they say. Tempranillo quickly became an important grape not only for us at Pedernales Cellars but for winemakers across Texas. 

Winemakers and vineyard managers across the state have poured their time, energy, and passion into providing as ideal conditions for their grapes to flourish as humanly possible. Tempranillo has proven worth it, becoming the unofficial state grape of Texas and the star ingredient in many award-winning wines. 

We always have Tempranillo available in our tasting room by the bottle and by the glass, both as single varietals and in some of our blends. You can also buy our wine online or look for it at your favorite retailer that carries Texas wine. 

Happy International Tempranillo Day! ¡Salud!

 

Time Posted: Nov 9, 2023 at 10:47 AM Permalink to A Tempranillo Tale Permalink
Julie Kuhlken
 
October 20, 2023 | Julie Kuhlken

Seriously. Texas Wine.

Nothing says Seriously. Texas Wine than a stock show and rodeo wine competition, ya’ll. And we’re coming hot out of the chute with this one – Pedernales Cellars won Best of Herd Texas Winery at the 14th annual San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo wine competition this month! Now that deserves a “yee haw!”

The competition included more than 900 wines from across the United States and around the world. While we love a friendly showdown with our fellow Texas wineries, we are always especially proud to stand on an international stage. This year we poured our Texas wine alongside wineries from Napa Valley, Paso Robles, the Provence region of France, and Italy, among many others. Entries are judged by a highly experienced panel that selects the award-winning wines by varietal. 

Judges awarded medals to all eight wines Pedernales Cellars entered into the competition, including Texas Reserve Class champion / Double Gold for our 2020 Valhalla, and gold medals for our 2020 Malbec, 2020 Tempranillo, and our 2022 Viognier Reserve. Full list of winners is below, if you’d like to see. 

Wineries selected as Top 14 Champion Wines will be featured during the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo Champion Wine Auction & Dinner scheduled for Thursday, November 16, 2023 at the Shrine Auditorium in San Antonio, TX. Lasso those tickets now so we can pour you a winning glass. 

Time Posted: Oct 20, 2023 at 2:12 PM Permalink to Seriously. Texas Wine. Permalink
Julie Kuhlken
 
October 2, 2023 | Julie Kuhlken

Seriously. Texas Wine.

Kuhlken family in estate vineyard

What to Know about Texas Wine

Texas wines are making a name for themselves on the national and international stage, and there's no better time to explore the best wineries in the Texas Hill Country than in the vibrant month of October. But how much do you know about the burgeoning Texas wine scene? In celebration of Texas Wine Month, we’re sharing the must know facts about Texas wine. Pour a glass and settle in!

Poppies and four bottles of wine

Texas has 8 distinct AVAs (American Viticultural Areas) 

In Texas – you guessed it – everything is bigger. That's why even our AVAs have AVAs within them! An AVA is a designated grape-growing region with distinguishing features, a name, and a delimited boundary. Texas has 8 distinct AVAs and the Texas Hill Country AVA is the third largest in America with over 9 million acres in the sprawling center of the state. 

Two distinct microclimates are designated within this AVA: Bell Mountain AVA just north of Fredericksburg where our Kuhlken Estate Vineyard is located, and Fredericksburg in the Texas Hill Country AVA, a limestone rich area best known for Chardonnay and Viogner. 

In addition to the grapes we grow here in the Texas Hill Country AVA, Pedernales Cellars sources 100 percent Texas grapes from family vineyards in the Texas High Plains AVA and West Texas.

Texas Terroir is Distinct, but Diverse 

Terroir is the natural environment in which a wine is produced, including the soil, topography and climate. The terroir imparts distinct flavors and aromas to wines. Limestone and granite are the dominant soils throughout the Texas Hill Country and are the backbone of its terroir, which is often compared to Rioja, Spain and the Rhone Valley in France. Of course, since Texas is so large, soil types can vary from vineyard to vineyard and the diversity of the region lends itself to a wide range of grapes, including Tempranillo and Viogner. 

Many Grape Varietals Thrive in Texas 

Speaking of grapes: warm days and cool nights are a part of the charm of a Texas Hill Country winery getaway, and certain European grapes really enjoy this climate too. Particularly, Tempranillo, Viogner and Grenache thrive with the shining sun and the cool breeze that flows down from the hills. In fact, Texas was among the first regions in the country to have significant plantings of European grape varieties, dating all the way back to the early 19th century in the El Paso area. Take that, California!  Across Texas, more than 80 types of grapes are grown, mostly in the High Plains AVA.

Couple in swing on estate

You can sip your way through the best of Texas wines via the Texas Hill Country Winery Association and its Texas Wine Month passport event

The Texas Hill Country, with its rolling landscapes and charming small towns like Fredericksburg, is home to some of the best wineries in Texas. Along the Texas Wine Trail, there are more than 60 wineries to enjoy! As you head along the trail, picture-perfect vineyards stretch across the hills making for a scenic day trip from major cities like Austin, San Antonio and Houston. During Texas Wine Month in October, you can enjoy a self-guided tour of Texas Hill Country wineries, including our tasting room here at Pedernales Cellars. We look forward to hosting you and raising our glasses to the beauty of Texas wines. Cheers!

Time Posted: Oct 2, 2023 at 4:08 PM Permalink to Seriously. Texas Wine. Permalink
Julie Kuhlken
 
June 28, 2023 | Julie Kuhlken

Patriotic Pairings for Independence Day Grilling

Happy Birthday, America! Let’s celebrate the 247th anniversary of the founding of the United States with grilled dishes paired with wine made in the greatest state in the union, Texas.

Grilling out is as traditional on Independence Day as fireworks. The key to pairing wine with grilled food is simplicity. Select wines that you know you will enjoy and match the primary flavors of the wine with the dominant flavors of your food. Here are a few pairings that will delight your tastebuds.

Vintners Reserve for 4th of July

Zucchini and Cauliflower Skewers with Feta Paired with 2021 Lyla  

Grilled veggies are perfect for a side dish and for a main course. We like hearty vegetables with crisp, chilled white wine. Try this recipe for veggie skewers with our 2021 Lyla.

Ingredients

  • 4 large zucchini and summer squash
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 8 skewers, soaked in water for 20 minutes
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 c. crumbled feta
  • 8 skewers, soaked in water for 20 minutes

Preparation

  • Preheat grill to medium-high.
  • Shave zucchini and yellow squash into long, beautiful strips.
  • Skewer zucchini and yellow squash in folded curves alternating with cauliflower florets.
  • Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  • Grill for about 10 to 12 minutes, turning occasionally, until vegetables are tender and slightly charred.
  • Crumble feta cheese over the grilled veggies and serve.

Our 2021 Lyla is a traditional Rhône-style white blend made with Roussanne from the Hill Country Estate at Kuhlman Cellars and Viognier from the Texas High Plains. It’s a medium-bodied wine with stone fruit, ripe pear, apples, and honeydew melon flavors with a touch of flint and minerality. Grilled veggies typically have a stronger flavor than roasted or steamed. The round fruit flavors of the wine balance well with the slight sweetness of the zucchini and the crunch of the cauliflower.

Cheddar Bacon Hamburgers Paired with 2019 Texas Mourvèdre

Burgers are an essential summertime food. An important consideration when pairing wine with hamburgers is to select higher-fat ground beef with the oomph to kick up the fruit flavors in the wine a notch. Hamburgers are delicious with full-bodied red wines with plenty of tannins, like Mourvèdre.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • ½ cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ cup real bacon bits
  • 4 hamburger buns

Preparation

  • Preheat the grill to high heat.
  • In a large bowl, mix the ground beef, Cheddar cheese, horseradish, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and bacon bits.
  • Shape the mixture into 4 hamburger patties.
  • Lightly oil the grill grate.
  • Place hamburger patties on the grill, and cook for 4 minutes per side, or until your preferred temperature.
  • Serve on buns with your favorite fixins.

Our gold medal-winning 2019 Texas Mourvèdre is a blend made predominantly with Mourvèdre with a healthy splash of Petite Sirah, and Syrah grown in vineyards located in the Texas High Planes. It has deep aromas of dark fruits, red currants, earth, cedar, herbs, and wild game. This medium-bodied wine has lovely black cherry pie flavors and a long vanilla finish. The grippy tannin in this rich Mourvèdre is softened by the grilled hamburger's heavy protein and fat content, making it even more flavorful and smooth.

St. Louis Spare Ribs Paired with 2019 Vintner's Reserve

Slow-smoked pork ribs are a delicious dish for Independence Day. Ribs are excellent with a wide variety of wines including fruity white, rosé, and bold red wines. Here is a recipe for fall-off-the-bone tender spare ribs.

Ingredients

  • 2 slabs St. Louis spare ribs, trimmed
  • ½ cup coarse ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup Kosher salt
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar

Preparation

  • Prepare your smoker for indirect cooking at 275⁰.
  • Combine salt and pepper and season ribs liberally on both sides with the mixture.
  • Place ribs on the smoker and add pecan wood chunks to the fire for smoke.
  • Mix water and apple cider vinegar in a spray bottle to spritz ribs every 45 minutes.
  • After 2.5 hours remove ribs from the smoker, spritz with vinegar mixture, and wrap in aluminum foil.
  • Return ribs to the smoker and continue to cook for approximately 2 hours. Check ribs for doneness after 1 hour and every 15 minutes after. Once desired tenderness is reached pull off the smoker.
  • Let the ribs rest for 15 minutes and serve.

Our 2019 Vintner’s Reserve is a nontraditional red blend made with Texas-grown Tannat, Carignan, Mourvèdre, Petite Sirah, Touriga, and Syrah. It’s an aromatic wine with lots of blackberry bramble, blueberries, plum, and cola with a hint of spice. The flavors match the aromas in this medium-bodied wine with integrated tannins. The 2019 Vintner’s Reserve is delicious with pork ribs. The higher fat content in the ribs matches well with the firm tannins in this wine, and the smoke enhances the fruitiness of the wine.

We hope you enjoy these delicious wines with grilled foods over the long holiday weekend. Stop by the tasting room to pick up a mixed case to make sure you have plenty of wine for your guests. Happy Independence Day! 

Time Posted: Jun 28, 2023 at 2:15 PM Permalink to Patriotic Pairings for Independence Day Grilling Permalink
Julie Kuhlken
 
May 26, 2023 | Julie Kuhlken

Simple Summer Wine and Picnic Pairings

It’s here! The unofficial kick-off to summer starts every Memorial Day weekend. It is a perfect time to relax outside in the breeze with a simple summer picnic paired with excellent wines.

Two people pinicing on the lawn at Pedernales Cellars Simple Summer Wine and Picnic Pairings

Picking picnic food should be straightforward. Go with easy-to-make, easy-to-eat food that will taste great now and still taste great after a two-hour car ride and is easy to clean up. The less prep and fewer utensils required, the better. What are your favorite picnic foods? Fresh fruits, an assortment of cheeses and crackers, pasta salad, hearty sandwiches, fried chicken, and a charcuterie board with fresh bread are excellent selections.

In addition to the delightful food, make sure you have all the necessary gear.

Picnic Essentials Checklist

  • Wine
  • A corkscrew 
  • Plastic wine glasses
  • A picnic basket and/or a cooler with ice
  • A picnic blanket
  • Paper plates or re-usable plastic plates
  • Picnic utensils
  • Napkins  
  • Cutting board and a sharp knife
  • Insect repellent and sunscreen
  • Water

Now for the good stuff: the picnic wines. The best wines are the wines you enjoy. However, you can never go wrong with chilled, crisp white, and versatile rosé wines. Here are a few recommendations.

2021 Viognier Reserve

The 2021 Pedernales Cellars Viognier is a vintage to remember. We aged this wine in 40% of new French oak over a period of seven months and a little longer in a 500L puncheon. It has vibrant tropical notes like candied pineapple and kiwi, as well as golden delicious apple, pear, and hints of brioche. It goes really well with granny smith apples, fried chicken, mild cheddar, and goat cheese with honey.

2021 Lyla

Our second vintage of Lyla, named after our winemaker’s late rescue dog, is as beautiful, unfailing, and complex as she was. The blend is a traditional Rhône-style wine made with Roussanne from the Hill Country Estate at Kuhlman Cellars and Viognier from the Texas High Plains. It’s a medium-bodied wine with stone fruit, pear, golden delicious apples, and honeydew melon flavors with a touch of flint and minerality. It has zippy acidity that makes it an excellent match with deviled eggs, fattier cheeses like triple cream brie, as well as cured meats.

2021 Texas High Plains Vermentino

We love Vermentino. This is our first vintage getting it from Canted Country Vineyards in Lamesa, Texas, and we are really pleased with the fruit. This wine fermented entirely in stainless steel tanks and aged on its lees almost until bottling in January. It has lovely orange blossom and lemon aromas with sea breeze and fresh green herbs. The palate has a slight creaminess to it with notes of peaches and lime. It is super food friendly with a smooth mouthfeel that is complimented by lively acidity. It is perfect with pasta salad, aged gouda, and bruschetta.

2021 Over the Moon Rosé

Rosé is the quintessential picnic wine. Well, let’s be real, it’s the quintessential spring, summer, and fall wine. Our 2021 Over the Moon Rosé is made with a blend of red grapes including Grenache, Cinsault, Mourvèdre, Sangiovese, and Carignan that marry incredibly well to create a softer style of rosé that is a fantastic accompaniment to food and incredible all on its own. The nose on this rosé is delicate with peach and apricot, as well as pear and rose petals. It tastes exactly how it smells, with a creamy texture and long finish. Bring it to every picnic for the rest of your life. It’s lovely with charcuterie, and specifically prosciutto.  

Pedernales Cellars Picnic on the Lawn

The Perfect Picnic Place

If you have already selected the perfect picnic spot on the banks of a cool stream under a shady tree, swing by the winery and stock your cooler with a selection of these summer-ready wines. If you’re fresh out of ideas for where to go, you can picnic on our lawn. Bring your blanket, grab the bottles of your choice, and spread out on our spacious lawn. You can even order a cheese plate in our tasting room. We’ll supply a magnificent view of the Texas Hill Country.

See you soon!  

Time Posted: May 26, 2023 at 11:25 AM Permalink to Simple Summer Wine and Picnic Pairings Permalink
Julie Kuhlken
 
March 24, 2023 | Julie Kuhlken

Employee Spotlight: Head Winemaker, Joanna Wilczoch

It feels a little odd to talk about someone who is alive for Women’s History Month, but that’s exactly what we’re doing. We’re shining our spotlight on our head winemaker, Joanna Wilczoch, who is definitely making history in our cellar.

Joanna Wizczoch Sampling wine from the barrel

Joanna is a first-generation American, whose parents were born in Poland and immigrated to the U.S. in 1982. Before entering the wine industry, she worked in social services for several years. While working a part-time job in wine sales, Joanna fell in love with wine and wanted to get more involved.

She joined the Pedernales Cellars team in 2016 working in the vineyard. At the time she was taking winemaking classes at Texas Tech. That helped her transition into a role as an assistant winemaker where she really found her groove. Joanna’s winemaking skills and excellent palate helped her break through the glass ceiling in 2019 to become the head winemaker, working alongside executive winemaker, David Kuhlken.

That same year, she also interned at a winery in New Zealand to further hone her skills. She jokes that the real reason she chose to work in the Southern Hemisphere is so she could work two harvests in one year. In reality, she learned a lot to help her lead the wine-making team at Pedernales Cellars. Joanna tells us about that experience and what she is looking forward to in this Q&A.

Q: What did you learn while working in New Zealand that has helped you with winemaking at Pedernales Cellars?

A: I spent the spring harvest season in 2019 at the largest winery in New Zealand, Indevin. My goal was to experience how things are done in a different country and pick up skills to be a more well-rounded winemaker. While there, I primarily worked with Pinot Noir, which requires different processes than we use with the grapes at Pedernales Cellars. One of the biggest takeaways was getting comfortable with spontaneous fermentation and cold-soaking grapes. I learned to relax through the weird cycle of fermentation. I recognized that the grapes might get really funky at different points in the fermentation using those techniques, but they are just passing phases and have nothing to fear. I use that knowledge at our winery to accept the various phases of fermentation in service of the greater good of making a better wine at the end of the cycle.

Joanna outside at the vineyard

Q: We source the best grapes possible from talented growers in Texas. What grape varietals are new to the program in 2023?

A: This year we have contracted Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from Nogalero Estate Vineyard in the Texas High Plains. I’m excited to work with this vineyard to get fantastic Bordeaux varieties. The vineyard is in the process of transitioning to organic growing. It is part of the strategy to combat the over-spray and drift problems of dicamba. We rely on growers who are committed to producing the highest quality fruit possible. Nogalero Estate Vineyard is growing sustainably and organically, and they do a fantastic job of managing the vineyard to keep yields low. For example, they maintain the leaf canopy well to allow the later maturing Cabernet grapes to fully ripen. The result is really high-quality grapes.

Q: What qualities do you look for in partnering with growers and how do you maintain relationships with them?

A: We start our search using the dating site, GrapeConnect.com. We swipe right on growers who are willing to have heart-to-heart conversations about our shared long-term goals during long walks down the vineyard rows. We want growers who aren’t afraid of commitment.

But seriously, we like working with growers who are willing to learn and grow along with us. We’re fortunate to have several long-term contracts with grape growers who are focused on the quality of the crop and not quantity. We value relationships based on shared commitments and strive to be good partners as well.

On the light-hearted side of that partnership, we bring gifts of wine that we make with their grapes. We bottle early trials of the wine to give them a sneak peek at wine made with different versions of fermentation so they have an idea of what their grapes can do. We separate various blocks from their vineyards so they can taste the difference in their growing approaches. These kinds of trials help them perfect their grape-growing craft, and it goes a long way in showing them how committed we are to their success.

Q: What are you excited about for this growing season?  

A: I’m really excited about our continued work with Desert Willow Vineyard in Seminole, Texas. They continue to expand their plantings and acreage under vine in an immaculately maintained vineyard. They are in the process of transitioning all crops to be certified organic. Last year was the first year of organic practice on the vineyard, and all new plantings of varietals such as Petite Sirah and Alicante Bouschet are certified organic. In the 2023 harvest, we’ll get Alicante Bouschet, Grenache, and Syrah from the vineyard. They are planting Carignan and Petite Sirah specifically for us for future vintages.

Joanna tasting wine in the barrel room

Q: Which wines are you excited about releasing this year?

A: We’re releasing our 2021 red wines and our 2022 white wines this year. Working with wines from both growing seasons at the same time is an excellent illustration of the differences in vintages. The 2021 growing year was cooler and a bit challenging with the fruit. The cooler conditions resulted in lighter-bodied, less tannic, and fruitier wines than we produced in 2020. It’s really fun to compare the two different vintages side by side and see how the weather had an impact on the finished wine. The 2022 growing season was hotter and dryer, resulting in more concentrated fruit. We had good yields and the heat and drought reduced disease pressure. The 2022 vintage is outstanding, with balanced wines showing excellent fruit intensity and supple tannin.

Some of the wines that I’m looking forward to releasing are the 2022 Teroldego, which will be a much larger release of a single varietal than we typically make, and the Canted County Reserva Tempranillo 2020 which will be released in the fall. This wine is already phenomenal. I recommend buying a few extra bottles of it and holding on to some of them to compare it to the 2020 Gran Reserva Tempranillo that we will release in three years. We just bottled the Gran Reserva this month and it will require three years of bottle aging. It’s the same wine, but with an additional year in the barrel, and more time in the bottle. It tastes awesome. I’m excited about tasting these two wines side-by-side and think it will be really fun for everyone to see what a difference a year in the barrel can make! 

Time Posted: Mar 24, 2023 at 7:30 AM Permalink to Employee Spotlight: Head Winemaker, Joanna Wilczoch Permalink
Julie Kuhlken
 
February 27, 2023 | Julie Kuhlken

Pedernales Cellars Incorporates Sustainable Practices

Sustainability is more than just a buzzword at Pedernales Cellars. Our team members, including our winemaker and co-owner David Kuhlken, winemaker Joanna Wilczoch, Vineyard Manager Evan McKibben, and I have long discussed the best ways to make our wines and run our winery in the most sustainable way. We appreciate that valuing resources means implementing measures to protect them, both now in in the long run.

Evan McKibben with new vines

Winemaking is labor-intensive. To be a sustainable business, we must take care of our team. Winemaking is agriculture. Being good stewards of the land is essential to our long-term viability. Winemaking requires the use of natural resources. We are leveraging a variety of tools to minimize our impact on the environment.

Here we share our most recent sustainability statement, to provide some insights on what we are already doing and what we are committed to doing in our business practices to continue moving toward more sustainability.

Pedernales Cellars Sustainability Statement

We are focused on growing and operating our business prioritizing the economic, community, and environmental principles of sustainability across all departments and activities.

Employment and Community

  • Fair wages
  • Professional development and education support
  • Family support such as paid maternity and paternity leave
  • Health insurance for full-time staff
  • Leadership in trade associations
  • Donations and support to organizations in local and winegrowing community

Land

  • Minimization and elimination of synthetic herbicides and pesticides in operation
  • Natural grass cover for soil preservation
  • Supply organic waste material to local farms for reuse
  • Organic compost program for the estate vineyard
  • 100% recycling for on-site recyclable materials
  • Reduce non-recyclable waste material, including minimizing consumer packaging waste
  • Use 100% Texas fruit supporting local growers

Julies hands with grapes in them

Energy and Water

  • 26 tons of Geothermal cooling for production operation
  • Rainwater collection to support operational water usage
  • Underground barrel cellar for natural temperature and humidity control

Our rainwater collection tank on the vineyard

Long-Term Goals

  • 25% On-site Energy Production
  • 50% On-site Rainwater/Grey-water Sourcing
  • Eliminate all synthetic herbicides and foliar pesticides

We are constantly evaluating our winemaking and business practices in order to maintain and improve our standards of sustainability wherever possible. We take care to learn how our business practices will have the most positive impact to avoid the depletion of natural resources and build up our community and land.

We love to discuss sustainability! Ask about it next time you visit our winery. You may book a tasting online or stop by during business hours to buy a bottle to enjoy on the lawn. Becoming a Wine Club Member is another wonderful way to show your support and enjoy great wines!

 

Time Posted: Feb 27, 2023 at 7:40 AM Permalink to Pedernales Cellars Incorporates Sustainable Practices Permalink
Julie Kuhlken
 
January 31, 2023 | Julie Kuhlken

Valentine’s Gift Guide: Expressing Love Languages with Wine

Giving gifts for Valentine’s Day has become a traditional way to celebrate our love. People have different ways of expressing and receiving love. We get that. To make things easier for you, here are some Valentine’s gift ideas that fit with the five “love languages.”

Pedernales Cellars 2021 Over the Moon Rose

Spend “Quality Time” with 2021 Sparkling Vermentino

If your Valentine’s love language is quality time, they feel the most adored when you want to spend time with them. Our newly released Sparkling Vermentino is a fantastic choice to enjoy while hanging out with your partner. Bubbly conversations will flow while you sip this wine. While away the hours savoring the aromas of brioche, lemons, white flowers, and pineapple. Our Sparkling Vermentino is dry with flavors of peach and pear, with a hint of crushed rock minerality in the finish. Pair it with fresh oysters to lengthen your quality time together.  

Perform “Acts of Services” with 2021 Over the Moon Rosé

If your partner’s love language is acts of service, they love it when you go out of your way to make their life easier. It's things like bringing them a lovely glass of rosé that will bring them happiness. Our Over the Moon Rosé is always a good choice for Valentine’s Day because it is inspired by my parents’ love story. Larry and Jeanine Kuhlken met while working for NASA on the Apollo 11 mission and have been together ever since. You can be over the moon in love with this softer style of rosé with delicate aromas and flavors of peach, apricot, pear and rose petals. The palate matches the nose of this medium-bodied wine, with a creamy texture and long finish.

Give the “Gift” of 2017 Malbec  

This seems like a pretty straightforward love language to cover in a Valentine’s Day gift guide. People whose love language is receiving gifts like to be given something that is both physical and meaningful. Our 2017 Malbec fits the bill beautifully. It’s juicy and soft with lovely black cherry, blackberry cobbler, and kirsch notes with hints of cocoa, graphite, and coffee. Consider gifting three bottles so you can enjoy one for Valentine’s Day dinner, one next weekend, and one for the cellar.

Indulge in “Physical Touch” with 2013 Kuhlken-Österberg

Cozy cuddling, holding hands, nuzzling, and kissing are ways people who express their love language with physical touch love language feel loved and appreciated. Physical touch can be incredibly nurturing. Snuggle time calls for a special wine. Cuddle up with the second vintage of our allocated KO wine made with estate-grown fruit. The 2013 KO is a gorgeous wine with aromas of ripe strawberry, raspberry jam, black cherries and hints of spice, along with mouth-filling red fruit flavors complemented by black pepper and a long finish. Only 83 cases of this wine were made and we have a very limited number of bottles left.

Express “Words of Affirmation” with Texas Ruby

People whose love language is words of affirmation value verbal acknowledgments of affection, including frequent "I love you's." This Valentine’s Day, share plenty of compliments, and words of appreciation such as, “I love you so much when you pour me a glass of Pedernales Cellars Texas Ruby.” Or, “Your kisses are as sweet as a sip of Texas Ruby.” You can’t go wrong with pairing a glass of our Texas Ruby and your sweetie for dessert.

Enjoy Valentine's Day with Us!

Join us on Sunday, February 12th to taste each of these five Love Language wines at our Valentine's Pairing. We are excited to celebrate love and friendship by combining our passion for exceptional wine with the beautiful Pedernales views. We are hosting an elevated pairing experience with 100% Texas wines and decadent pairings. Afterward we invite you to purchase wine by the bottle and join us out on the lawn to enjoy the view!

Tasting Menu

  • 2021 Sparkling Vermentino
  • 2021 Over The Moon Rosé paired with White Chocolate Strawberry
  • 2017 Malbec paired with Aged White Cheddar
  • 2013 Kuhlken-Österberg paired with Candied Bacon with Smoked Gouda
  • Texas Ruby Port paired with Dark Chocolate Mousse

Limited seating will be available. Book your reservations online.

We’re glad to be a part of your Valentine’s Day celebration. 

Time Posted: Jan 31, 2023 at 3:20 PM Permalink to Valentine’s Gift Guide: Expressing Love Languages with Wine Permalink