Let's Talk over Drinks
No one said being a farmer is easy. That is particularly true for those of us who enter the profession after starting our careers in other “fields.” We have learned a lot about growing grapes and vineyard management in the past 25 years since first planting our Kuhlken Vineyards.
Here are 25 things we have learned:
- People think having a vineyard is a very romantic idea.
- One never thinks one’s own vineyard is romantic in the least.
- A good vineyard manager is worth every penny you pay him/her.
- Never plant vines in the Texas Hill Country without first putting in the irrigation system — Yes, seriously, we had to learn this the hard way.
- Learn your vineyard site microclimate, soils, and topography, and what is likely to grow well there. In our case we learned the hard way rather than before planting our first vines. This meant pulling up Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc and planting Mourvèdre and Sangiovese.
- Don’t grow something just because you like the grape. Only grow those grape varietals that are going to thrive in the Texas Hill Country.
- Do not plant in a freeze pocket, meaning leave unplanted the bottom of the slope where cold air will accumulate.
- It takes an army of people to hand-harvest a vineyard, so make lots of friends. Wine helps.
- Pruning in the Texas Hill Country means working outside in 35-degree weather, usually with a chilly wind and often a slow drizzle, for eight hours a day while doing hand crunches … for a week.
- One of the most beautiful places in the world is to be in a Texas Hill Country vineyard during wildflower season.
- A benefit of having a family-owned vineyard is that it creates a common purpose across generations and increases time family members spend together. This is especially valuable for the oldest and youngest generations (says the middle generation).
- Different grape varietals have noticeably different annual life cycles with great variation in the timing of when the vines bud out, to how quickly they develop their canopy, and to the sensitivity of the harvest date. It is essential to spend a lot of time walking the rows and observing the evolution of each varietal throughout the year.
- One develops a whole new appreciation for dirt. There can be vital differences in what’s below one’s feet over the space of just yards.
- Busting through caliche with a breaking bar in order to plant vines is like trying to rip through concrete with a child’s plastic spade.
- Once bud break has occurred in March, it is impossible to sleep any time the forecast shows temperatures dipping below 35 degrees.
- Once bud break has occurred in March, it is impossible to sleep any hail is in the forecast.
- Forget sleep during harvest and crush season. During a typical day, we start picking at 6 am and don’t finish crush until well after midnight.
- Sunrise over the vineyard on harvest day is magical.
- Always try to finish hand harvesting in the Texas Hill Country by 10 am before the heat really gets going.
- Wear sunscreen.
- Black widows like vineyards, so wear gloves when harvesting.
- Raccoons can devour what appear to be diarrhea-inducing amounts of grapes.
- One of the most vibrant displays of Autumn foliage in the Hill Country is in the vineyard.
- Lots of grape varieties thrive in the heat of the Texas Hill Country, including Mourvèdre, Grenache, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Amarela, Sangiovese, Petit Verdot, and Albariño …
- … but the king of grapes in the Texas Hill Country, and in Texas in general, is Tempranillo.
After 25 years of learning in the vineyard, we have accomplished a lot. And we are certain that there is a lot more for us to learn.
We are celebrating the five-year anniversary of our Tasting Room Manager, Marissa Contreras, working at Pedernales Cellars. For many of our guests, Marissa is a familiar face at the winery, and we want to take this opportunity for you to get to know her a little better.
Marissa joined Pedernales Cellars in June 2015 as our Special Projects Manager. She excelled in her first project, the launch of our special release, allocated wines, Kuhlken-Osterberg. It was a fantastic way for her to become immersed in our winery culture, working closely with the owners, for such a momentous new wine introduction.
“It was awesome to plan the premier release of the K.O. wines, and the launch event,” remembers Marissa. “I had such a great beginning to my role at Pedernales Cellars. I shadowed team members the first two weeks, attended wine tastings and educational sessions, and met with vendors. It was an incredibly immersive experience and mind-blowing interesting. The wine industry seemed so romantic and such a great fit for me. I was hooked!”
Before joining the winery, Marissa had not worked in the wine industry. She is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology, with a focus on racial and gender stereotypes. Following graduation, she worked with at-risk youth at a nonprofit in East Austin, and then worked as a retail manager at Walgreens for seven years. In that role, she discovered that she had a keen business sense.
During her time at Walgreens, she started attending wine dinners. Through these wine dinners, Marissa became reacquainted with an old friend who worked at Pedernales Cellars and operated a wine shop in San Antonio.
“The first time I stopped into her wine shop, I picked out my first wine, which happened to be a Texas wine,” says Marissa. “It was a Spicewood Vineyards Tempranillo, and I was really impressed. That experience made me super interested in exploring wine, and my palate expanded. I realized that I had a knack for tasting, which further sparked my curiosity. My passion for wine and my friendship with someone in the industry opened doors for me to have a broad exposure to wine. I knew I was ready for a new adventure at the same time that Pedernales Cellars was hiring for a new position. It was perfect timing, and my retail background with multi-tasking and a focus on customer service was a good fit.”
It was clear that Marissa was capable of handling big assignments. She took on the role of managing our wine club, where her customer relations experience helped her shine. At the time, the winery was growing rapidly, and we counted on her to ensure things ran smoothly. She assumed more responsibility for our direct-to-consumer manager role too, and eventually requested to take on more responsibility for marketing, working directly with me. Her passion and drive to help the winery is impressive.
Guest Education in the Tasting Room
Two years ago, we had an opening for Tasting Room Manager, and she immediately threw her hat into the ring for the role. It made terrific sense for her to be in that position. Not only did Marissa’s customer service background make it a great fit, but she also had a great relationship with the tasting room staff. It was where she needed to be.
“That was the start of a great journey to enhance the focus of our tasting room on wine education,” says Marissa. “Hospitality and customer service are essential, and it is paramount that we make customers feel fantastic when they visit. We’ve built a strong tasting room team that is dedicated to education and customer service.”
Wine can be a bit daunting when people are first getting interested in it. It’s almost like learning a new language. Because of that, the Pedernales Cellars team works hard to be knowledgeable about wine, so we can make it easier to understand for our guests. We have educational sessions for the staff to learn more about a wide variety of topics, such as grape growing and the specifics of grape varietals, regional influence on wines, vintage variation, and how to evaluate wine in blind tastings. Marissa inspires curiosity in the staff. She has pursued additional educational opportunities outside the winery with Guild Somm and TEXSOM, plus she has attained a level 2 certification with the Wine & Spirits Education Trust. Marissa is excited to continue her wine studies to achieve WSET level III.
Marissa says, “I take delight in that it is all about teamwork. We are all dedicated to educating each other. It inspires me to push myself to keep learning. Our tasting room team learns a lot from our production team. We spend time in the cellar to understand the winemaking process and the direction that our winemakers, David and Joanna, have for our wines. Understanding how our wines are made really helps us relate our wines better to our customers and wine club members.”
She continues, “I find it inspiring and eye opening to see our production staff putting in such long hours during harvest. The day is not done until the work is done. When the grapes come in during the middle of the night, David and the team are there well past middle of the night even after being in the vineyards before dawn.”
Marissa’s experience at the winery has helped her sharpen her palate and deepen her appreciation for wine. Her favorite wine is the Pedernales Cellars Valhalla 2016. “I still have two bottles in my cellar. It is such a beautiful wine to pair with food. I’m drawn to Italian varietal wines, and think it is perfect served with a red sauce with homemade meatballs. The Valhalla is like a dream. I also love the Kuhlken Vineyard Reserve 2015. It is so unique. I love to have this with a very special meal like lamb chops and roasted vegetables. I love it so much.”
While the romance of wine initially drew Marissa to Pedernales Cellars, it is the unique experiences she has with our guests that inspire her. She is touched by the numerous marriage proposals that happen on our property. The sweeping Hill Country view draws people to propose to their loves on our property, and the delightful experience they have has led many couples to become wine club members. It’s that family-like connection with guests that fires her up.
“I will never take for granted that we are here for our members and our loyal customers,” says Marissa. “What we have to offer can add to the richness of their lives. The wines that they take home can lead to an incredible experience with their families or friends. I love seeing our wines travel the world with our customers. It is special to me that we can be a highlight of people’s vacation or can help them create a special moment at home.”
Crisp, aromatic, expressive of terroir – all those are qualities that Pedernales Cellars looks for in a quality white wine. At Pedernales we take pride in working with grape varietals that are not only expressive of terroir, but also bring other unique qualities to the palate too. With that philosophy in mind, we proudly debut the 2017 Texas High Plains Albariño. Winemaker Joanna Wilczoch answers a few questions about the latest release and what makes it a stand-out in our portfolio.
What are your favorite qualities of Albariño?
I appreciate the lean, racy style of Albariño. What does that mean? We picked the grapes at a lower brix (a measure of the sugar level in the grape), resulting in a nice crisp wine with a lot of finesse, and aromatics of dried lemon and almond pith. It has a hint of salinity that is typical to the salinity we get from Albariño grown in proximity to the ocean in Spain.
What are some of Albariño’s physical traits that make it unique?
The growth patterns of Albariño make it relatively easy to manage in the vineyard. It wants to grow pretty much vertical, and it is not super vigorous so it’s easier for us to manage compared to some of the other grape varieties we grow. Because it’s not particularly vigorous, the leaves also don’t get in the way of sunlight ripening the fruit. The relatively thin canopy also allows for good ventilation, allowing the grapes to dry out well after rain. This helps mitigate the potential for disease and rotting in the clusters. The grape clusters are pretty different from other whites – they tend to resemble little grape grenades. They are small, tight clusters and easy to identify.
What are some of the terroir characteristics the grapes express in the finished wine?
The Albariño from Pedernales Cellars’ estate Kuhlken Vineyards in the Hill Country are grown in a combination of limestone-rich and sandy loam soils which give the wine a great minerality. The soil in Bingham Vineyards and Newsom Vineyards, where we source much of our Albariño, is red sandy loam. Compared to the Hill Country based fruit, I find the wine made with these high plains grapes to be a little rounder in mouthfeel with added complexity. While it still has some of that characteristic salinity, it doesn’t have as much minerality as the estate block.
How is this vintage different from others?
There are three key differences that make the 2017 vintage unique:
- We selected Albariño grapes from three vineyards for this vintage: Kuhlken Vineyards, Bingham Family Vineyards, and Newsom Vineyards in the High Plains. This is the only year we have used fruit from the Newsom Vineyards in our Albariño.
- In addition, we fully barrel fermented the estate portion of this lot to add a layer of complexity, which is a first for our Albariño.
- The winemaking team also chose to blend in a small portion of Viognier to boost the floral notes. The result is a fairly complex vintage.
What do you look for when harvesting/selecting your Albariño?
When making harvest decisions for Albariño, I am looking to maintain as much natural acidity as I can. So, my preference is to pick the grapes when the brix are still in the low 20’s. I’ve found that the fruit is often ready at this stage of ripening with plenty of plumpness, brown seeds, and soft skin.
What is the primary taste profile and how does it stand out to you?
Texas Albariño, for me, has some qualities of a California Chardonnay plus a little more salinity. I get lemon, but also pear, apple, and sometimes melon flavors.
It can have a fair bit of body and weight to the palate making it different from our Vermentino which tends to be a little more linear. It’s also not as floral as our Viognier. It stands out all on its own.
What was the winemaking process like?
We often press our white wines just hours after harvest in the High Plains to reduce skin contact. After the fruit is pressed, it gets “floated,” which is a method for removing solids from the juice (any small bits of skin, seeds, etc.) which can add unwanted flavors during fermentation. In a day or two we transport the juice to Pedernales Cellars’ winery where we move it into tanks or barrels to ferment.
The majority of the wine is fermented in stainless steel tanks, with a small portion fermented in oak barrels. The blending is completed after final fermentation. Generally, we don’t allow our Albariño to go through malolactic fermentation in order to maintain freshness and crispness, and to preserve the natural acidity that we seek out during harvest.
The goal with these steps is to create clean, crisp flavors that will allow the character of the fruit to shine through.
What are your food pairing recommendations?
The round body of Albariño lets it pair nicely with pork, fatty white fish, and chicken dishes. It also does well with creamier foods like pasta with a cream-based sauce or creamy soups.
If you are curious about how our grapes are grown, we will soon announce our socially distanced tour of our estate vineyards. Just as important as seeing the grapes in the vineyard, is tasting the final product. We are featuring our Albariño in our Summer Six-Pack for a special price of $89.00, and a discount on single bottles of Albariño as well.
Join our team for a Live Virtual Tasting at 5pm on Thursday, June 18. Our winery team will share further insights about this wine, and some of their favorite summer food pairings.
Bubbly is bliss. Fizz is fun. Sparkling wine is joyful. There is a reason why we say “cheers” when we lift a glass. One sip of a delicious sparkling wine melts our cares away.
We have a bottle of happiness ready for you. We just released our second vintage of Pedernales Cellars Kyla (pronounced, “shoola”) Pétillant Naturel (or Pét-Nat, for short) Rosé sparkling wine just in time for summer. Kyla means “chill” in the native tongue of our Swedish relatives, which is why it’s the perfect name for our Pét-Nat.
Wine lovers have long sought out Prosecco, Cava, and Champagne to get their fizzy fix, and in recent years Pét-Nat has made a resurgence as a bubbly wine of choice. This natural sparkling wine is made in méthode ancestrale — a winemaking method which the monks originated in the south of France in the early 16th century. This method involves bottling the wine before it has fully completing its first fermentation, allowing the carbon dioxide produced from the natural sugars found in the grapes during the completion of primary fermentation to be trapped in the bottle.
Is it Champagne?
This differs from how Champagne is made with méthode champenoise, where the wine is fully fermented, then is dosed with yeast and sugar to start a secondary fermentation in bottle to create the carbonation.
Because Pét-Nat is made with primary fermentation finishing in the bottle, we needed to quickly bottle it during harvest. Our Kyla Rosé Pét-Nat is made with 100% estate-grown Tempranillo, which we hand-harvested on August 2 and pressed immediately. After fermenting to the desired brix level, it was hand-bottled on September 4 and laid down to complete fermentation and to “rest” letting the CO2 be absorbed into the wine as bubbles until its release now in May 2020.
Why is it Hazy?
Pét-Nats have a light and fizzy mouthfeel and generally have larger bubbles than its méthode champenoise counterparts. Sparkling wine that finishes fermentation in bottle produces the same sediment as traditional-method sparklers. Unlike Champagne, we do not disgorge our Pét-Nat and we do not fine or filter it. The result of the remaining lees presence is a slightly hazy wine that is a bit rustic, and lively.
We can’t control the fermentation once the wine is bottled, which leads to some variation between bottles and an element of unpredictability in the pressure in the bottle. Use care when opening as it may bubble over!
To reduce the bubbly volatility and to control the sediment in this hazy wine, chill the bottle upright in an ice bucket for 30 minutes before opening. The cold keeps sediment at the bottom of the bottle, allowing you to pour four relatively clear glasses of wine.
Pét-Nat can be aged for a year or two and is perfect to drink young. The softer bubbles of Pét-Nat make it immediately expressive after opening with generous aroma. Kyla has well defined aromas of tangerine, flint, strawberries, and flowers. The notable minerality of this wine complements a crisp acidity and grapefruit and strawberry flavors.
It is lower in alcohol which means you can enjoy a glass in the evening and go about your business. The lively effervescence, zippy acidity, and lower alcohol makes our Kyla super food friendly. It pairs incredibly well with spicy food like Thai noodles or tacos, as well as grilled vegetables, seasonal fruits, and grilled chicken. It is a perfect picnic wine for the long Memorial Day weekend.
Kyla Pét-Nat Rosé is only available in the tasting room, and not online. Please call the tasting room to reserve a bottle for pickup, or schedule a reservation online for a tasting and to purchase your bottles.
We introduced our first Pedernales Cellars Over the Moon Rosé last year with the 2018 vintage. The wine commemorates the love story about how Larry and Jeanine Kuhlken, founders of Kuhlken Vineyards, met while working for NASA on the Apollo 11 mission. This wine is an homage to their commitment to each other, their inspirational relationship, and the possibilities they introduced for the winery when they planted the vineyard 25 years ago.
You may have noticed that our newly released 2019 vintage of Over the Moon Rosé Wine is lighter in color than our first vintage from 2018. These wines, made from largely the same varietals and vineyards, are a perfect example of how vintage variation and winemaker style can effect a wine.
There are two primary reasons for the difference:
- Vintage variation influenced by differences in weather and growing conditions year over year
- Winemaker stylistic approach
Comparing 2018 and 2019 Growing Seasons
The growing season in 2018 was marked by searing heat and arid conditions. It got blazing hot in late May and the heat kept cooking with numerous record-breaking high temperatures during a late July heat wave. Veraison of the grapes set in quickly bringing on a super-fast ripening period leading to a relatively early harvest. The 2018 harvest brought a smaller yielding crop, but amazingly high-quality grapes with a perfect sugar to acid ratio. We had ripe, rich fruit.
The weather in 2019 was more erratic. We had a deluge of early season rains, followed by a downright un-Texan cool spring and early summer. Those cool temperatures slowed the ripening of the fruit which delayed the start of harvest by a few weeks. Then, right before harvest the weather turned scorching hot and dry which accelerated harvest briefly, only to have cooler temperatures and rain return to prolong harvest again. The result is that we were able to pick our earlier ripening grapes like Tempranillo and heat loving Mourvèdre at optimum conditions. Later ripening fruit either came in at lower brix (a measure of the sugar level in grapes that lets us gauge the potential alcohol content of the finished wine), or we picked it much later than usual.
Our Winemaking Style
The growing conditions and produced grapes in 2018 that are well suited to make a Rhône -style Rosé. Like the wines made in the Southern Rhone Valley of France, this wine had ample body and structure, a rich pink hue, and a bowl full of Spring fruit flavors with just a little heft provided by the 13.8% Alcohol. The 2018 vintage is a blend of 62% Cinsault, 30% Mourvèdre, and 8% Carignan grapes grown in Texas. That dose of Carignan gave the wine a bold strawberry flavor that melds with vibrant cherry flavors, and chalky minerality. It is a fantastic apéritif wine, and a delicious accompaniment to a wide range of cuisine from grilled vegetables to lighter meats and charcuterie.
In 2019 the cooler temperatures mid-summer and then the blast furnace of heat in late summer shut down the sugar production of the grapes. It was a perfect condition to make a light-bodied, lighter in color, mineral driven and elegant Provençal style Rosé. We used a slightly different blend of grapes with 76% Cinsault grapes from Farmhouse Vineyards in the High Plains and 24% Estate-grown Mourvèdre both picked at lower brix giving it a lower 11.8% alcohol. To add a rounder mouthfeel and mellow out the fruit flavors a little bit, we aged the rosé on lees for 5 months, with weekly lees stirring to boost toasty aromatics. This wine is a fresh, crisp, dry style with aromas of strawberry, watermelon candy, and stone with light fruit, and rose petal flavors. It is just as at home on the patio after work as it is in the dining room, pairing exceptionally well with fresh spring dishes.
The 2019 Over the Moon Rosé is available to order online for pickup or shipping. Enjoy!
Pedernales Cellars is fortunate to work with the best wine growers in the state of Texas. The best grapes deserve to be featured in limited production wines. We are proud to release our next two Signature Series Collection wines. These wines, created by the Pedernales Cellars winemaking team are one and two barrel lots of single varietal, single vineyard wines that highlight the most extraordinary blocks from the vintage. They are extremely limited, and we are super excited to share them with you.
At our Fall Wine Club Party, we will preview the 2016 La Pradera Tannat with the Winemaker. This will be one of the only times you will be able to taste and pre-order this wine.
2016 La Pradera Tannat, Texas High Plains
This wine is the first varietal Tannat that we have ever released and was planted for us by the folks at La Pradera Vineyards in Brownfield, TX. It is a relatively new grape to our cellar. We planned to use this variety as a blending component for the rich flavors, tannin, and color it can contribute to a wine. However, after tasting this lot in the cellar, we decided this vintage absolutely had to stand alone.
La Pradera Vineyards and is managed by a Texas winegrowing legend, Andy Timmons. This 120-acre vineyard used to be home to a raucous nightclub, now the winegrowing operations headquarters a tranquil and serene change of pace (except during harvest season).
Acclaimed for their red wine varietals, La Pradera is situated at 3,300 feet in elevation, has Amarillo fine sandy loam soil over clay which are a great combination to consistently produce some of the best wines in the state as featured in Texas Highways Magazine and Texas Monthly Magazine. Their Tannat is no exception.
The 2016 La Pradera Tannat has loads of character and intensity with scents of bramble, tar, dark chocolate, blackberry jam, eucalyptus, dried currants, dried cherries. Pleasant minerality underlies lush flavors of blackberry jam, cocoa, earth, and fresh green herbs. This Tannat has a pleasant finish with a hint of eucalyptus, and ample tannins that make it age worthy through 2023.
This wine especially complements smoked or cured meats, sausages, and game. We hope you’ll enjoy this wine as much as we have. It is the first harvest from this block, and we are looking forward to many more to come.
2017 Farmhouse Vineyards Cinsault, Texas High Plains
Since we opened our tasting room in 2008, we are well known for our wines made with Rhône varieties such as Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre. But more recently, we have worked with growers such as Farmhouse Vineyards to expand our range of Rhône varieties to enhance both the red and rosé wines. Cinsault is one such addition, and this expressive 2017 vintage gives our club members a chance to experience Cinsault on its own. We think wine club members will understand why this variety has earned a place in our cellar as a blending component once they experience its bright fruit flavors.
Operated by the Seaton and Furgeson brother/sister team, Farmhouse Vineyards is comprised of four vineyards on sites covering 112 acres in the High Plains AVA in West Texas. The vineyards situated at 3,330 feet in elevation see hot days and cool nights. The climate is similar to the hot, windy weather in the Southern Rhone Valley and Chateauneuf du Pape where the Cinsault grape thrives. The variety withstands dry conditions and grows well in the loamy soils of the High Plains.
We bottled the 2017 with about 9 months of barrel aging in neutral oak allowing the expressiveness of this light-bodied wine to really shine. It has bright notes of fresh strawberries, cranberries, fresh tobacco, and basil. It will fill your mouth with just-picked summer strawberries and a long finish with soft tannins.
Our 2017 Farmhouse Vineyards Cinsault is a great aperitif and is easy and lovely to drink on its own. It pairs beautifully with soft goat cheeses, blueberry salads, trout or salmon seasoned with dill.
With its lighter skins and soft perfume Cinsault is particularly suitable for fruity, early-drinking reds. This wine is being released now with the hopes you’ll enjoy it young and get the full expression of fruit flavors. Drink up and don’t worry about cellaring!
Join us at our Fall Wine Club Parties to preview the outstanding 2016 La Pradera Tannat.
Pedernales Cellars is fortunate to have an amazing estate vineyard located close to our winery. Kuhlken Vineyards is the heart of the family-owned winery. My brother, and Pedernales Cellars winemaker, David Kuhlken, and I relish the family history that has gone into cultivating vineyards and thoroughly enjoy our roles in helping the vineyard to evolve over the past two decades.
Our parents, Larry and Jeanine Kuhlken, planted a 5 acre the vineyard in 1995 originally on a 55 acre property adjacent to State Highway 16 in Fredericksburg in the Bell Mountain AVA (American Viticultural Area) in the Texas Hill Country. We have since expanded the vineyard to 17 acres with the totally property now at 295 acres. Our parents had a dream to return to their agricultural roots, having both grown up on farms for part of their respective childhoods.
Kuhlken Vineyards is situated on rolling hills with excellent soil and enjoys cooler evenings, making it one of the most ideal locations in the state for grape growing. At this site, we grow Albariño, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Tempranillo, and Touriga Nacional, and small amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, for our award-winning vineyard designated wines. Each grape variety is in various stages of ripening, and we are quickly approaching harvest. The Pedernales Cellars team will soon be incredibly busy in the vineyard bringing in the grapes for the 2019 vintage.
We’re incredibly enthusiastic for harvest and want to share that excitement with you. We have two excellent ways for you to celebrate the Texas Wine Grape Harvest:
2019 Pedernales Cellars Harvest Photo Contest
Here is your opportunity to experience harvest and share it with the world. Now through August 22, 2019, we invite you to capture and share the hard work, passion and beauty of this unique time during the wine cycle in our Harvest Photo Contest.
- To enter the 2019 Pedernales Cellars Harvest Photo Contest, simply shoot a photo of any Texas wine-grape vineyard during harvest, tag your shots with @PedernalesCellars and hashtag #PedernalesHarvest19 and share them on Facebook or Instagram. We encourage you to tag other fantastic Texas wineries as well.
- Follow along via #PedernalesHarvest19 as the contest is also a great way for you to get unique insights into the winemaking process right from the start and an appreciation of the hard work, commitment and passion that goes into every bottle.
- The winner will receive tickets to Grape Stomp, and a Wine & Food Pairing event on September 15, along with Pedernales Cellars logo Riedel glasses.
2019 Kuhlken Vineyard Harvest Tour
On Saturday, August 3, beginning at 9:00 we invite you to take a little road trip to see the harvest firsthand at our estate vineyards in Fredericksburg. This tour begins at Pedernales Cellars at 9:00 a.m. and includes transportation to and from Kuhlken Vineyard, a picnic lunch, and a tour of our winery.
For more information, please visit: /events/2019-Harvest-Vineyard-Tour
What an amazing experience! I just returned from New Zealand where I spent the spring (well, autumn there) harvesting grapes, and couldn’t wait to share my experience with you. Participating in a harvest in a different region has been my dream for quite a while now, it is an incredible way to gain understandings that make a more well-rounded winemaker. It’s one thing to read about different varieties, winemaking styles, and viticultural practices, but seeing them live in action is another matter entirely.
This spring, I decided to finally dive in and took a position working for New Zealand’s largest winery, Indevin. This winery is a sheer 1,000 times the size of Pedernales Cellars, something that I couldn’t entirely conceptualize until I arrived. It was massive! To paint you a picture, Indevin refers to its tank rooms (some of which were outdoors and a whopping 50 meters tall) as “tank farms.” These areas were so large that they were divided into North, East, South, and West sections. According to my Fit Bit, I walked 8 to 11 miles a day at work – half of which I probably did walking to and from the breakroom! Kidding. Sort of.
For the two months I was there, I worked in the “Red Cellar” where the winery’s Pinot Noir was processed as well as some small batch specialty white wines, like Gewürztraminer and Chardonnay for boutique clients. Because the red program was smaller and other wineries that did co-op worked out of this space, I had pretty regular contact with winemakers from places like New Zealand, Mexico, Spain, and Italy. Indevin was a very diverse place to work, and the diverse atmosphere probably one of my favorite things about being there. I not only learned about winemaking in New Zealand, but I was also able to talk about wine with a myriad of foreign winemakers from, well, everywhere. The Czech Republic, Chile, Argentina, China, Canada, Germany, France…pretty much every major wine region was represented. It was amazing.
Aside from the experience of collaborating with winemakers and cellar staff from different regions, I had a lot of fun playing with all the cool “toys” at a winery of that size has to offer. For example, we used a revolutionary machine called Pulsair for red wine cap management. We poked the Pulsair (which closely resembles a 10-foot metal tube) into the cap of a fermenting red wine and injected compressed air through it. The result looks like a wine volcano but is a relatively gentle way to break up the grape skins. Working with Pinot Noir is quite different from what we do in Texas with any of our grape varietals (at least at Pedernales), so it was interesting to see the processes and learn about why winemakers were implementing them. There are definitely some tricks I hope to try for our own 2019 vintage. While we might not need the same set of equipment as a winery that can process 30,000 tons of grapes, it gave me ideas for ways we might alter some of our practices with the equipment we have.
I know this might sound corny, but one of the biggest lessons for me has been a reminder of how lucky I am to make wine at Pedernales Cellars. While it was eye-opening to see how wine is made in another region of the world, I am grateful for the opportunity to work so closely with growers, fellow staff members, and grapes through every step of the process at a smaller winery in Texas. When I first started working at Pedernales Cellars, I was touched by how many dedicated hands were involved in producing the wine we make. Now, I feel this now more than ever. I love the connections that are formed through making and sharing wine – between farmers, producers, consumers and everyone in between. It’s truly special to be able to share this process and the wine with folks directly, and it’s something you simply don’t get to do on a larger scale. As amazing as it was to be working abroad, I am more excited than ever to be in Texas and can’t wait to get vintage 2019 underway!
No good wine is complete without a good story. In our case, our newest rosé wine was inspired by a tale of love.
Pedernales Cellars is a family-owned winery, and we are extremely proud of that fact! Larry and Jeanine Kuhlken, founders of Kuhlken Vineyards and the matriarch and patriarch of our family, have been married for a grand total of 50 years. They met while working for NASA on the Apollo 11 mission and have been together ever since. As they are a stellar (see what we did there?) example of love and loyalty, we decided to dedicate our latest wine release to them: the “Over the Moon” rosé. We wanted this wine to symbolize both their commitment to each other and the foundation of their inspirational relationship.
There’s even more to be “over the moon” about; the stunning flavors of this Rhone-style blend include mouth-watering strawberry, vibrant cherry, and chalky minerality. Made with 100% Texas-grown grapes, it makes an incredible addition to every summer dish, from grilled vegetables to lighter meats and charcuterie. This beautiful rosé is a winery exclusive, and you can now pick up a bottle at either of our tasting rooms!
Join Our Rosé Food and Wine Pairing Experience
To celebrate the release of this wine in the middle of rosé wine season, we are hosting our Rosé Food and Wine Pairing Experience on Sunday, May 19th, 2019 at 2:00 PM. Join us to taste through a flight of several rosés from our library collection paired perfectly with small bites prepared by Chef Leo Aguirre of Fischer and Wieser. For tickets, please visit: /product/Rose--A-Food-and-Wine-Pairing-Experience.
There is nothing better than the Texas hill Country in Spring. Vibrant bluebonnets and Indian primroses splash the roadsides with their cheerful hues. Bluebirds chirp cheerful sonnets to one another, gathering nest supplies and relishing in the balmy weather. Electric green tendrils of grapevines unfurl from their wintery casks in search of sunlight. It’s a glorious season in Texas that coaxes everyone outdoors into the warm air. Picnics, glasses of crisp rose, and frisbee games await. These occasions are always more special when they are shared with family.
As a mother myself, I relish family time. To carve out time in my busy schedule to connect with my girls, I have fashioned the perfect family-friendly Hill Country Day Trips that we all enjoy. Here are a few suggestions for your family day get-aways.
Kick off your trip with a proper lunch at the Hye Market next (it’s in, you guessed it, Hye, TX). A charmingly rustic building, the market serves deli sandwiches, fresh salads, naan bread pizzas, and more! They even have a tasting bar where you can sample several local wines and beers.
We love educational opportunities during family outings. One of our favorite places to visit is the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park in Stonewall, which is an excellent way to combine both hiking and learning. The LBJ Ranch just west of Johnson City is home to President Lyndon B. Johnson’s boyhood home. View exhibits about President Johnson’s life, take pictures of the park’s majestic longhorns, or talk a walk to Johnson Settlement on a trail that is less than a mile round-trip. What’s better than sneaking in a little history lesson while having quality family time?
If you love the beauty of wildflowers, take in the sea of brilliant poppies, bluebonnets and other flowers at Wildseed Farm in Fredericksburg. Or, drive the scenic Willow City Loop between the towns of Fredericksburg and Llano, off Highway 16. The gorgeous bucolic setting is loaded with bluebonnets blanketing the rolling hills.
And finally, after a day in the sun, it’s time for wine! Pack up the family and visit our estate vineyard in Stonewall. Schedule a winery tour for the whole group and marvel at our cavernous barrel room. Later, let the younger family members play tag, throw a football, or take a catnap on our expansive property while you sit back and take in the sweeping Hill Country views with a glass of award-winning wine. You can even bring snacks or indulge in a cheese board, basking in the sunlight.
We are proud residents of the Texas Hill Country and would love you to experience a piece of heaven with your family.