Let's Talk over Drinks
What is Fine Wine?
In a recent article, New York Times wine writer Eric Asimov describes the definition of “fine wine,” which he prefers to refer to as “great wine.” As he puts it, “Greatness has classically been associated with wines that showed complexity and nuance, that were able to age and evolve over many years, that touched the emotions, inspired contemplation, and provoked discussion.” That sounds like the kind of wine that I want to drink.
What is Texas Fine Wine?
Some of the major wine-producing regions of the world have a long head-start on producing wine over Texas. The French, Germans, Italians, and Spaniards have had centuries of experience to achieve greatness in winemaking. The post-prohibition wine industry in Texas got started less than 50 years ago.
It is perfectly understandable that people would have doubts that such a young wine region would be able to produce fine wine. To dispel those misgivings, the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) funded marketing for the wine industry in the 2000s featuring programs such as the “Texas Two Sip” where Texas wines were tasted blind along with fine wines from around the world, such as a Texas Sangiovese vs. an Italian Chianti Classico of the same vintage.
One such Texas Two Sip tasting was held in 2009 at the TEXSOM Conference, a premier educational event for sommeliers and wine professionals. This is a tough audience of wine experts. Most had never tasted Texas wine. It was very eye-opening for attendees because, during the blind tasting, many could not always distinguish the Texas wine from its international counterpart.
Unfortunately, the Texas Legislature cut TDA funding for the wine industry in 2011, and with that, all the marketing for our industry came to a halt.
Not deterred by this setback, wine PR professional Denise Clarke organized several wineries to host a hospitality suite to showcase Texas wines at TEXSOM in 2012. We jumped at the opportunity to pour our wines alongside McPherson Cellars, Brennan Vineyards, and Duchman Family Winery to ensure that wine professionals from around the world had an opportunity to taste fine wines from Texas while they were visiting our home state. The suite was hugely popular, and again, wine professionals were excited to try Texas wines!
The tasting at TEXSOM in 2012 was eye-opening because we could immediately see the support that we had from the Somm community. They know how great Texas wine can be and want to see it shine.
After that successful TEXSOM event, we decided that Pedernales Cellars would take the lead in creating a group of like-minded wineries to continue marketing our great wines. We knew we were making fine wine, but there was a lot of work to be done to get people to know it. Without the support of the state to provide marketing funds for a broader Texas wine marketing program, such as those in wine regions in New York, Washington, and Oregon, we needed to self-fund a program. Fortunately, a core group of wineries, all of whom have stellar reputations for their wines, guest service, wine clubs, and special events, were eager to participate.
In 2014 Texas Fine Wine was born.
The original members included Pedernales Cellars, Duchman Family, Brennan Vineyards, and Bending Branch Winery. Spicewood Vineyards joined in 2016. In 2021 Brennan Vineyards left the group to accommodate Pat and Trellise Brennan's retirement plans. Sadly, Pat Brennan died this Fall, and the Texas Fine Wine wineries honored him with a donation to TWGGA.
Today Texas Fine Wine is still a privately funded marketing initiative representing four of Texas’ most distinguished wineries: Bending Branch Winery, Duchman Family Winery, Pedernales Cellars, and Spicewood Vineyards. Our goal is to show the world that our wineries are producing benchmark wines from Texas grapes. Or to put it in Mr. Asimov’s terms, we are creating wines of greatness with complexity, that evolve with age, are touched by our passion, inspire contemplation, and show a definitive sense of place. I am confident that I am always pouring great wines when I serve wines from these wineries, and this is true vintage after vintage.
Great wine is made by great people. The folks involved with Texas Fine Wine are some of my favorite peeps in the Texas wine business. They are dedicated, smart, and funny.
We know we are achieving that goal not only by winning accolades at the most prestigious national and international wine competitions but also by winning the praise of discerning wine consumers like you.
Get Your Texas Fine Wine
Texas Fine Wine is offering a special four-bottle 2021 Holiday Pack of wines that will pair great with your holiday table and is a terrific gift. The pack includes these exceptional wines:
- Pedernales Cellars 2018 Tempranillo Reserve — Blend of Tempranillo, Touriga Nacional and Graciano with notes of black currant, black cherry, and vanilla
- Duchman Family Winery 2020 Roussanne, Oswald Vineyard — 100% Roussanne with notes of ripe pear, lime, stone fruit, and minerality
- Spicewood Vineyards 2018 The Independence — A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot with notes of black plum, black cherries, and dark chocolate
- Bending Branch Winery 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon, Newsom Vineyards — 100% Cabernet Sauvignon with notes of black cherry cola, baking spices, clove, and vanilla
Orders placed by December 8 will arrive in time for Christmas.
Most of us are accustomed to buying wine made in the U.S. by the name of the grape such as Merlot, Tempranillo, and Viognier. However, wine made in other major wine regions, such as Bordeaux and the Rhône Valley of France label their wine by region rather than by grape variety. These wines are made with a blend of several varieties of grapes with complementary characteristics to create wine whose whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
At Pedernales Cellars we make wine in both ways: with single varietal wines, as well as wines that are a blend of several grapes. Generally, all of our white wines are made with one grape varietal except the Lyla. We make seven to ten red blends each vintage such as our Rhône-style GSM Mélange. There are advantages to making wine in both ways. However, blending wine is where a winemaker can really show off their artistry.
Pedernales Cellars has an extensive program to determine which lots of grapes are blended to make our final wines. We taste through each wine lot countless times and at regular intervals throughout the year while the wine is aging. Each time we taste we take detailed notes of each wine's strengths and weaknesses, aromatics, structure, and aging potential. By the time we are ready to begin blending, these records help guide the process
The 2020 growing season had challenges, and we harvested less fruit or no fruit from many of our long-time vineyard partners. To augment that reduction, we secured fruit from several new vineyards, which has become an exciting opportunity to experiment with blending (or not) wines with different qualities than “usual.”. We’ve been getting Teroldego from Narra Vineyards for the last couple of years, but also received some Teroldego from Pepper Jack Vineyards in 2020. This vineyard is 40 miles further north of Narra, and while both lots share the same rich black fruit, opaque color, and velvety tannins, the Pepper Jack Teroldego has a distinct minerality to it. We are excited to share both with our guests and look forward to hearing their reactions to these lovely and unique wines.
Sometimes we blend grapes that complement each other to make a complex wine. Other times we make a blend to highlight a specific grape.
Better Together Blends
One of our blends that we make each vintage, the GSM Mélange, is going to be awesome for the 2020 vintage. It is equal parts Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre this year. We’ve had stellar Syrah the past few years, and it is marrying beautifully with the Grenache and Mourvèdre from the High Plains. We also harvested some great Montepulciano from a new-to-us grower, that will be blended into our Valhalla.
Star of the Show Blends
An example of blending to highlight a specific grape is our Reserve Tempranillo. While Tempranillo is the main grape, we add in other grapes to accentuate various qualities. For example, the 2018 Tempranillo Reserve is comprised of 77% Tempranillo, 12% Touriga, and 11% Graciano. Touriga and Graciano help boost the structure and complexity of Tempranillo, without overpowering it.
The first wines to be blended are our “Reserve” wines – this ensures we have all our highest quality lots available to make these wines special The Reserve Tempranillo is started with our highest quality Tempranillo lot, and then we blend in traditional pieces to complement those grapes. We look for qualities for proper body, alcohol levels, and primary tastes that are characteristic of exceptional Tempranillo. We want medium to higher tannins, balanced medium to high acidity with acidity for a complex structure, as well as the rich cherry flavors that are characteristic of Tempranillo.
I’m excited about our 2020 vintage as we had several vineyards produce excellent fruit with intense flavors and structure. We have three additional grape varietals that are excellent blending components that increase the age-worthiness of the wine while making sure it is approachable to drink right away. We’ll blend Tempranillo grapes with Graciano, a traditional blending grape used in Rioja, Spain that adds beautiful aromatics, along with Cinsault for softness, and Alicante Bouschet to give the wine a deep, rich color. This year we chose to co-ferment the Alicante Bouschet with the Cinsault because the two had complementary chemistry that bring out the best in each other.
The actual percentage of each varietal used to make the final wine is selected to ensure that the wine tastes varietally correct with vibrant fruit flavors, proper complexity, and excellent structure with a balance of tannin, acid, and texture. We haven’t finalized the blend for our 2020 Tempranillo Reserve yet but will probably use three different lots of Tempranillo for approximately 75% of the wine with the remainder made up of Graciano, and the Alicante Bouschet / Cinsault blend. Over the course of two weeks, we will conduct at least five and up to ten blending trials with the winemaking team evaluating various ratios to determine the final blend. We’re confident that it will be an outstanding wine.
While you are waiting for the 2020 wines to be available, you can satisfy your thirst with our 2018 Tempranillo Reserve. It’s a perfect wine to share during the holidays. Because it is food-friendly, and a stand-out wine, we have included it in the Texas Fine Wine 2021 Holiday Pack. Orders placed by December 8 will arrive in time for Christmas.
Before joining our team at Pedernales Cellars, Mel Carter was a stay-at-home mom, and her family owned a peach stand in Fredericksburg. It was her role as a mom that led her to us. As fate would have it, two other moms in her children’s friend group both worked at Pedernales Cellars.
“They asked if I wanted to have adult time, says Mel. “I joined Pedernales Cellars as a tasting room associate on the weekends in May of 2013 and have loved every minute of it ever since.”
She loves working at our smaller, family-owned winery, where she can focus on customer service. Mel likes having time to talk with our customers to understand why they are here and how she can make their visit enjoyable.
Focused on Wine Education
Mel is a natural in the tasting room. She has a knack for sharing her passion for wine education with guests in a fun and engaging way. Over the years, Mel has not only shared the history of the vineyards and the winery with countless guests, but she has also helped shape the tasting room with her ability to get people excited about wine.
“When I first started, I didn’t drink wine at all,” says Mel. “As soon as I started, I wanted to learn everything I could about wine from what ‘terroir’ means and how it impacts the wine, to the differences between grapes grown in the Texas High Plains vs. the Hill Country to every aspect of what leads to the final flavor of each wine. It was eye-opening to learn how wine tastes different when aged in stainless steel, versus French oak barrels, versus American oak. Everything about how the wine is made plays a role in creating the flavor. There are a lot of factors that impact the flavor of a wine.”
Mel continues, “I love helping people get excited about not only enjoying wine but also learning more about it so they have an even richer experience. It is fun for people to explore the difference between the nose and palate of a wine, and how we can taste different aspects of the wine in different parts of our mouth. There is an art to tasting wine. It is not like going to a bar and having a shot of liquor. I walk our guests through the three phases of tasting: the first sip is to cleanse your palate, the second is to set your palate, and finally, the third sip lets us truly taste the wine. The most fun is meeting people who are new to wine and helping them learn about it. It is really rewarding to see them pick up nuances of the wine.”
Mel has been with the winery through several growth phases in the past eight years and has grown right along with us. She is adept at managing the changes in the industry and the curveballs that the pandemic has thrown at us. She has jumped right in to assist with our tasting room remodel and continual enhancements to ensure we offer the best possible experience for guests.
Mel's Favorite Sips
Mel readily admits that she feels spoiled to work at a winery where she loves the wine.
“I love our Tempranillo Reserve and our GSM Mélange. It pairs well with everything. I’m definitely a fan of red wines. When a non-wine drinker comes to the tasting room, I like to compare red wines to whiskey. Our heavier more oaked reds like the Newseaux and Family Reserve wines that are aged longer in oak can relate well to whiskey aged in oak barrels. These are my kind of wines.”
We invite you to visit our tasting room, meet Mel, and taste some of her favorite wines. Cheers!
Saying that we’ve had an atypical growing season doesn’t really capture the complexity of what we’ve seen in the vineyards in 2021. I think it is more accurate to say this is a very un-Texas harvest.
Let’s start with the biggest weather event of the year, the historic deep freeze in February. Believe it or not, it wasn’t catastrophic. Yes, we lost some vines, but it didn’t necessarily change what the amount or quality of the grapes was this year.
Hailstorms are another story. We completely lost our Teroldego and Sangiovese crop in our estate Kuhlken Vineyard in the Texas Hill Country due to spring hail damage. Sadly, we will not have these two varieties in our 2021 wines. We’ll also have much smaller than desired crops for Graciano and Syrah from the Texas High Plains because of that dastardly hail.
The result of hail and freezes in the spring is that we will have a much smaller overall crop than we had in 2019—which was a big year. However, overall, with fruit from both the Hill Country and High Plains, it will be a larger crop than we had last year.
Perhaps the most un-Texan aspect of this season is the cooler than normal temperatures. We have had far fewer days with temperatures in the 90+ degree range than in a typical season. Less heat means our grapes ripen more slowly. That and the late-season rains have delayed our harvest by a couple of weeks.
We are just getting started with harvest in the Texas Hill Country. We expect to pick Petite Sirah and Carignan next week (mid-August). Thankfully none of our grapes have had serious problems because of the rain, no fungal pressure, or shut down on ripening. Rain has been great for our new vines planted in Kuhlken Estate Vineyard! We only have about a half dozen small blocks to pick various vineyards, so we will be done with our Hill Country yield fairly quickly.
We are keeping our eye on the vineyards in the Texas High Plains. We just got our first round of meaningful chemistry numbers this week, which we usually receive in July. Most grapes just went through veraison in early August, and harvest is three weeks behind. We anticipate picking white grapes first, starting the week of August 23. Tempranillo is the first red grape we’ll pick. Those grapes are starting to put on sugar now. We expect to see them ripen by the first week or two of September.
We are fortunate to have many long-term relationships with growers in the High Plains and are looking at really healthy crops from our traditional blocks at Bingham Family Vineyards and Reddy Vineyards. We’re excited to have Viognier in good quantities after having a shortage of our mainstay varietal in 2020. The Vermentino is looking great as well. We have a couple of blocks of Grenache and Mourvèdre in Desert Willow Vineyard near Seminole, Texas and the vines look amazing this year. We’re really excited about this beautiful crop.
As long as we can avoid late summer storms and heavy rains, the later harvest can mean a fantastic 2021 harvest. Having our crop hanging later into the season brings the promising potential for balanced chemistry as the grapes ripen. The cooler temperatures and cooler nights allow the grapes to retain their natural acidity really well while the grapes achieve phenolic ripeness and gain more sugar. We’re usually racing to pick the grapes that are ripening very quickly in high temperatures.
It may be an Un-Texas Harvest in many ways, but what remains incredibly Texan is that our vineyard manager, our growers, and our cellar team are all pulling out the stops to ensure we have the best quality grapes in the winery as possible. We’re optimistic for a great 2021 vintage.
It’s an age-old, iconic image: Dad stationed at the grill with a spatula in one hand and a cold drink in the other. We have the perfect wines for dad to enjoy with grilled foods on Father’s Day.
Pairing wine with grilling is very similar to any wine and food pairing. The best approach is to look for a combination that heightens the flavor of both the food and the wine. When grilling, look for complementary and contrasting flavors in the wine and the preparation of the meat, rather than just the type of meat. It’s all about the seasonings, sauces, and glazes playing well with the wine.
White wine pairs incredibly well with grilled pork, chicken, and seafood. Three of our classic Pedernales Cellars white wines are now on special just in time for Father’s Day grilling. The Sip Into Summer Special crisp white wines are perfect for a hot day in June, cooking up some of your favorite summer recipes. Try these pairings.
2018 Texas High Plains Vermentino and Grilled Chicken
Grilled chicken pairs beautifully with deliciously light and vibrant Vermentino. This pairing is simplicity with sophistication. The citrusy, and tropical flavors of our Vermentino, along with its lovely acidity make this wine a versatile accompaniment to grilled chicken prepared several ways. The hint of pineapple in the wine brings out the char and smoky flavors of simply seasoned grilled chicken. The zippy acidity helps it bring out the best in tangy sauces, too.
2018 Texas Albariño and Grilled Pork
Our Albariño is a complex and fruity white wine that balances the smoke and spice of grilled pork. This wine has aromas of Golden Delicious apples, lemon grass, lemon, poppy seed, and a hint of melon. The lemon, almond, and melon flavors perfectly complement the sweet, spicy, smoky, and tangy flavors of grilled pork. Pork is laden with flavor and fat, and often the accompanying sauces are acidic. These flavors beg for a wine with enough crisp acidity and a slight creaminess to stand up to it. Albariño fits the bill wonderfully.
2018 Texas Viognier and Grilled Seafood
Grilled fish and full-bodied white wines like Viognier are a match made in heaven. In particular, Viognier is excellent paired with heavier fish dishes like grilled salmon or grilled swordfish served with a creamy sauce. Our Texas Viognier has subtle notes of caramel and vanilla, layered with green apple, pineapple, and floral notes. The flavors of apples and crisp pears, along with a balanced minerality and salinity, marry our Viognier exquisitely with the oily texture of grilled salmon or swordfish.
Our 3 bottle Sip Into Summer Special will treat Dad right! Pick up the bundle at our tasting room or order it to be shipped and enjoy $10 off shipping. This special is available while supplies last or until June 30, 2021.
Memorial Day weekend is an ideal time to get outside, delight in nature, and enjoy a picnic. We’re fortunate to have so many beautiful places in Texas to eat alfresco. If you need inspiration to pack your picnic basket, just follow these simple steps.
1. Grab the Perfect Picnic Wine
What is the right wine for a picnic? Rosé! And a second bottle of Rosé!
Why? The gorgeous pink color is as inviting as a Texas wildflower. The bright fruit flavors complement the lovely flavors of almost any food you can bring on a picnic. Enjoying a glass of chilled wine is so refreshing on a warm afternoon.
Our 2018 Pedernales Cellars Texas Dry Rosé is an excellent choice for a picnic. It is a Rhône-style blend made with predominantly Cinsault grapes along with Mourvèdre from our Kuhlken Estate Vineyard, and Carignan. This lush rosé wine is fruity and lively with candied watermelon, guava, red delicious apples, and strawberry aromas. It has cheerful cherry and strawberry flavors that carry through with crisp acidity. It's as refreshing as a cool summer breeze. This is undoubtedly my favorite picnic wine of all time.
The 2019 Pedernales Cellars Kyla Pét-Nat Rosé Sparkling Wine brings the extra excitement of bubbly fun. It is a perfect picnic wine for the long Memorial Day weekend, as it is lower in alcohol so you can enjoy a glass and still play frisbee with accuracy. The lively effervescence and peppy acidity make our Kyla particularly food-friendly. It pairs incredibly well with fresh fruit, spicy picnic food like marinated stuffed cherry peppers, as well as grilled chicken and burgers. It is only available for purchase in our tasting room.
2. Keep It Cool
Rosé should always be served chilled – around 50 to 60 degrees. If you don’t have a wine cooler sleeve, or a fancy, rugged stainless-steel bottle insulator to keep your bottle cool, never fear. Here are a couple of ways to keep your wine chilled for your Memorial Day picnic.
Zip it in Ice — pop your bottle of Pedernales Cellars into a gallon-size freezer bag with a zipper closure. Fill it with ice, and zip it closed (as best you can with the neck sticking out of the top). Stand your improvised cooler on end so it doesn’t leak in your basket, and your wine will stay cold for hours.
Use a Koozie — Slide one koozie over the bottom of the wine bottle, and another koozie right over top, allowing the neck to poke through the hole in the bottom of the koozie. While the koozies won't completely encapsulate the bottle; they will insulate it enough to keep the bottle chilled for a couple of hours.
3. “Hey Boo Boo, Let's Go Get Us a Pic-a-nic Basket”.
Next, select the menu for your outdoor feast. Fill your picnic basket with a variety of easy-to-eat treats that would make Yogi swoon. Toss in fresh berries, cut veggies, a selection of cheeses, and simple sandwiches. Try this picnic-friendly sandwich:
- Cut a French baguette into 6-inch-long sections, then cut each section in half longways.
- Spread a mint pesto onto one-half of the baguette.
- On the other half, layer Boursin Cheese, sliced cucumber, smoked salmon, and microgreens.
- Press the two halves together and wrap in butcher paper.
Dress up your place setting with cloth napkins, reusable cutlery, tea lights, and an easy-going picnic tablecloth.
Now you are all set for an afternoon of relaxation, and delicious dining outside. Swing by our tasting room on your way to the park or order the 2018 Texas Dry Rosé online and have it shipped right to your house.
April has kept us busy at Pedernales Cellars, with spring weather drawing guests to our winery, Wine Club members pickup party, and planting new vines at Kuhlken Vineyards!
Winemaker, president, and co-founder David Kuhlken and vineyard manager Evan McKibben have been busy in our Kuhlken Estate Vineyards this season. The vineyard team has planted more 5,000 vines this year to replace underperforming vines and to expand acreage under vine. To ensure the new vines have a good start in the infertile soil and degraded sandstone in Kuhlken Vineyards, we spread a manure compost with our mulch spreader.
Our site, located in Bell Mountain American Viticultural Area, was originally planted in 1995 and is a fantastic location to grow Mediterranean grape varietals. This season we planted Grenache, Tempranillo, Petite Sirah, Mourvèdre, and Sangiovese.
Some of the new vines replace vines that have been damaged in severe weather. Evan McKibben said, “We have already seen that some vines planted last year did not survive. In addition to the damage to young plants, we had more damage in the Tempranillo mature vines than in any other variety. Fortunately, the Albariño fruit looks really good. We are mainly focused on new plantings for the next three years for expansion rather than to replace vines. We had forecast a light fruit load this year, so the freeze we had did not affect us much. We should have a great fruit set for the 2023 harvest and then build steadily from there.”
David Kuhlken sees a program of steady planting next spring and in the coming years.
“Going forward we will still have many of the same varieties with the replant. Namely, Tempranillo, Mourvèdre, Grenache, Touriga Nacional, and Tinta Amarela. But we are adding blocks of Petite Sirah, Alicante Bouschet, and Graciano to the mix, reflecting the things that have proven consistent complements in our most exclusive reserve wine called KO and Reserve programs. We also have increased the amount of Sangiovese because it really has been a great variety in the Hill Country.
Grenache will take a few years to be mature enough to stand on its own. Joanna and I both really love Grenache for a varietal red, so the long-term goal would be to have it in the program as a standalone. Still, that could be several years down the road when it comes to the new estate planting. In fact, 2021 is the last year for the old Grenache block, and yields are quite low. In the interim, we might have Grenache from the High Plains as a varietal red.
Evan has been literally transforming things at the estate and has done an incredible amount of work these past 4 months. I will add about the planting this year, that Evan and our team will also plant 1,000 more Touriga vines, bringing the total up to 6,000 vines in 2021.
Have you ever visited a vineyard, worked on planting vines, or harvesting grapes? Follow Evan on Instagram, @vineyardevan, to see photos and videos of all of our vineyard projects. You can also follow the main Pedernales Cellars Instagram account for updates.
Let us bring a little taste of Europe--and Texas--to you during this spring break. While many of us would normally travel to faraway destinations, this year many of us are opting to stay home in Texas for spring break.
Don’t get us wrong--we love Texas! Yet how do we experience the best of both worlds? One way we are making the most of sticking close to home this year is through our Spring Break at Home wine bundle, inspired by and made with grape varietals popular in Spain, Portugal, Italy, and France. Why not maximize this lawn chair travel by setting the mood, and letting the wine whisk you away?
Try streaming a movie set in one of these countries or play some traditional music. Then cook or order a regional meal to go with these delectable wine selections. Paella, pasta, or beef bourguignon, together with our Pedernales Cellars wines in this bundle will transport you to another place, at least mentally. This carefully curated bundle includes our 2018 Texas Albariño, 2017 Cuvee 1853, and 2017 Newsom Vineyard North Block vintages.
Taste of Spain: 2018 Texas Albariño
Our 2018 Texas Albariño is a varietal wine based on a grape grown in Rías Baixas in North West Spain. It is bright, crisp, and distinctly different from the other white wines in our program. While the majority of this wine is made from Texas High Plains fruit, a small portion of the fruit was harvested from our Kuhlken Estate Vineyard as well as Enchanted Rock Vineyards in the Hill Country. This wine was entirely fermented in stainless steel, although a small portion of the Hill Country fruit was macerated with the skins on to add color and structure to the wine.
Our 2018 Texas Albariño has notes of lemon, vanilla, and a hint of saltiness reminiscent of the saltiness found in traditional Albariño grapes grown near the ocean in Galicia and northern Portugal. This is an aromatic white known for its versatility, and pairs exceptionally well with seafood, pork, and green vegetables. Stream your favorite Almodóvar movie or play some Plácido Domingo or Enrique Iglesias music to round out your evening in Spain.
Taste of Italy: 2017 Cuvee 1853
Our 2017 Cuvee 1853 commemorates the first of our ancestors arriving in Texas six generations ago. Spring break is family time, and gathering together to celebrate with wine is a wonderful way to share the experience. This vintage is an Italian-style blend of Dolcetto, Merlot, and Teroldego. Rich with fruit aromas and a medium body, this is a food-friendly wine that pairs well with everything from pasta to cheeses to grilled meats.
Expect to taste notes of strawberry and raspberry, balanced out by savory hints of dried sage and leather. Get sentimental about Italy with your favorite evocative Italian movie, perhaps the charming Cinema Paradiso. Or go full-on cheesy romantic mode with Under the Tuscan Sun for a night that leaves you longing for Italy. Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy is especially hot right now, and will satisfy your craving for an Italian experience from the comfort of your home. You can’t go wrong pairing your favorite Italian dinner with this medium body wine full of soft tannins and bright fruit.
Taste of France: 2017 Newsom Vineyard North Block
The 2017 Newsom Vineyard North Block comes from one of our favorite growers who has been producing high-quality fruit in the Texas High Plains for over 30 years. Newsom Vineyard is arguably the best in the state to grow Bordeaux varieties, and so we have crafted this tasty blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, and Petit Verdot from them. A Bordeaux blend makes the most of diversity in its varietal make-up, and that’s what we crafted with our 2017 Newsom Vineyard North Block.
Find your joie de vivre in your own backyard with our Newsom Vineyard North Block wine, coupled with Edith Piaf’s Ma Vie en Rose, or fall in love all over again with Amélie and her quirky meddling. Set the table with a feast from your local French restaurant, or stream and cook along with Julia Child in The French Chef. Anything for that French feeling.
Cheers to Spring Break!
This year many of us will be celebrating Valentine’s Day at home rather than flocking to restaurants for our romantic meals. That means we won’t have a helpful server or sommelier to recommend the best wines to pair with our meals.
Never fear! The Pedernales Cellars team put together some sure-fire wine pairings that will please the palate of your sweetie.
2017 Texas GSM Melange + Cheese and Charcuterie Board for Two
Tasting room manager, Cathy Martell, has a fantastic recommendation to start off your romantic evening. “What could be more playful than feeding each other savory bites of cured meats, aromatic cheeses, fruit, and nuts? A gorgeously arranged Charcuterie board is a wonderful first course that goes really well with our 2017 Texas GSM Melange. The lovely fattiness of the cheeses and cured meats pair well with the bold, juicy, fruit flavors and is an excellent counterbalance to the tannins in the wine. Yum!”
2019 Over the Moon Rosé + Salmon Provençal
President and winemaker, David Kuhlken, chose a distinctly southern French pairing with a romantic backstory for our second course. “We named our Over the Moon Rosé in honor of our parent’s love story. They met while working for NASA on the Apollo 11 mission in 1969 and have been ‘over the moon’ in love ever since. Rosé wines, in general, make extremely good pairings for a wide variety of cuisines and is a particularly terrific accompaniment to roast salmon. The light body and lively acidity of the wine lifts the oiliness of the fish, while the fresh strawberry and watermelon flavors enhance the earthiness of the Herbes de Provence. A simple yet elegant course for your love.”
2017 Family Reserve + Spaghetti and Meatballs
Co-owner, marketing and hospitality director, Julie Kuhlken, has a playful recommendation for the main course. “For Valentine’s dinner, I recommend a ‘Lady and the Tramp’ style pairing of spaghetti and meatballs with our Italian variety based 2017 Family Reserve. Why not have a little fun by slurping noodles from one big plate of spaghetti with the goal of meeting in the middle? The 2017 Family Reserve is a complex wine with ample cassis, black cherry, and black raspberry flavors, followed by leather, currants, and dried herbs. It is delicious with the big bold flavors of hearty Italian dishes and herbed meatballs in particular.”
2017 Texas High Plains Tempranillo + Chocolate Covered Strawberries
Events manager, Ashley Gunckel, selected a classic dessert paired with one of our most popular wines. “There is nothing more quintessential for Valentine’s Day than chocolate-covered strawberries. Spear one with Cupid’s arrow and feed it to your sweetheart along with a slightly chilled glass of our Texas High Plains Tempranillo. The cherry and blackberry flavors of the wine are excellent with the strawberry and bring out citrus notes in the chocolate. The bittersweetness of the chocolate tones the acidity of the wine down for a nice velvety smooth sensation. It’s a perfect way to cap off a delicious Valentine’s dinner.”
We wish you a delightful evening with delicious pairings.
We are excited to introduce our new Tasting Room Manager, Cathy Martell, who just joined the team at Pedernales Cellars.
Cathy’s role at Pedernales Cellars marks a “coming home” of sorts. Originally from Wisconsin, Cathy has called the Texas Hill Country home since 2004. But not full time.
She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse with a bachelor's degree in recreation management, which was a launching pad for a career in the hospitality industry, and has an excellent educational background to prepare her to manage our tasting room. Following graduation, she landed a full-time position in Texas at the historic Y.O. Ranch where she ran Y.O. Ranch Adventure Camp.
In 2012 Cathy accepted a seasonal job as the general manager of the Kenai Fjords Wilderness Lodge, a remote resort in Alaska. She has spent the last nine years wintering in Texas and working the warmer months at the resort in Alaska where she managed two full-service restaurants and led the operations of the entire resort. In this role, she oversaw a major upgrade of the facilities.
A Growing Passion for Wine
In her role at the Kenai Fjords Wilderness Lodge, Cathy was responsible for selecting the wines to pair with the all-inclusive meals. She relished the opportunity to learn about wine and experimenting with the perfect pairings.
“I really fell in love with wine while working in Alaska,” said Cathy. “I attended the annual wine shows and had the opportunity to meet with several representatives from wineries and learned more about wine. I also worked closely with my previous boss, a sommelier, to do wine training for our staff. That was a fascinating part of the job that spurred a much deeper curiosity about the world of wine.”
That fascination with wine was further fueled by trips to Spain and Italy where she experienced an exquisite wine pairing dinner at a Michelin star restaurant and visits to family-owned wineries. In her travels she had the opportunity to learn about and experience how the climates and soils of various regions impact the flavors of wine.
“I have an Italian heritage, and true to that cultural identity, I love to eat and drink,” says Cathy. “Wine and food bring people together. My first trip to Italy really inspired me to keep pursuing an interest in wine. The more I learned, the more I realized there is always more to learn about wine. I’ve been to Italy four times now and love exploring wine.”
Cathy recently felt the pull of Texas hospitality and made the decision to pursue a new job in the hospitality industry that would keep her in the Lone Star State full time. As chance would have it, we had an opening at Pedernales Cellars that is an excellent fit for her background and expertise.
“Working at a winery in the Hill Country is a really exciting opportunity,” said Cathy. Just driving through the Texas Hill Country to Stonewall for my interview with Pedernales Cellars was amazing. It was a wonderful reminder of how the beautiful scenery drew me to Texas in the first place.”
Cathy has already become an integral part of our team in just the first week on the job. She is a great fit, and genuinely gets a rush from spending time with our guests.
“I love having the opportunity to meet tasting room guests and Pedernales Cellars Wine Club members,” said Cathy. “It is an absolute joy. I’m excited by the focus on wine education here. I’m really looking forward to continuing to learn about wine—particularly experiencing how wine is made—and helping our customers learn more about wine too. The passion of the team is so contagious, and I’m so glad to be in Texas working with a family-owned winery.”
Cathy will help shape how we continue to evolve our guest experience as the pandemic restrictions change. She will be instrumental in planning live music and entertainment that tie in well with our focus on wine education and exceptional guest experiences.