Let's Talk over Drinks
You have probably seen Ashley Gunckel around the winery. Her broad smile and happy-to-help demeanor have been a fixture at Pedernales Cellars for more than five years. She is an integral part of our team, and she is a living embodiment of our culture of making it easy for people to enjoy wine.
Ashley has helped the winery in several roles. She was first a tasting room associate, was promoted to team lead, and was recently promoted to Event Coordinator. This job is an absolutely great fit for her energy and talents.
How It Started
Ashley hasn’t always worked in the wine world. Before joining our team at Pedernales Cellars, she worked as a vet tech, groomed animals, and assisted with customer service at her mom’s veterinary clinic in Colorado.
Wanderlust and a yearning for a change of scenery led her to Texas. Soon after settling in Hye, Texas, she found out about a job opening at Pedernales Cellars. She was immediately thrilled by the possibility of working at a winery.
“After the interview, I didn’t even make it out of the driveway before they called and offered me the job,” says Ashley. “We just clicked. I love working with people, and my friendly, outgoing personality was a good fit for the team at Pedernales.”
There was a bit of a learning curve for Ashley when she started the job.
She recalls, “On my first day working on my own in the tasting room as an associate, someone purchased a bottle of wine at the end of their tasting. I was shy and a little bit nervous during the whole tasting. When I pulled the bottle out to serve it to them, it slipped out of my hands and shattered on the floor. I was mortified. Thankfully everyone started laughing, and my manager was very understanding.”
How It's Going
“I don’t think I’ll ever leave the wine industry,” says Ashley. “I’m glad I get to work at a place where I genuinely love every wine we make. The vibe is great. The people are great. There are so many really interesting and smart people here. We love to hang out after work too. That is the best part about work here.”
Ashley’s love for people extends beyond her work family. She loves working with our guests and gets a rush from her role planning events that our members like to attend. One key to her success is that she avidly attends events as well and gleans the best of what she experiences at concerts, hosted dinners, and other winery events to add to her library of ideas for incredible events at Pedernales Cellars.
“I like to bring the best of what I experience to my job,” she says. “I want people to have a great time. I have met people from all over the world and get to hear their stories. It is satisfying to plan and execute events that entertain these fascinating people, and they also walk away learning something. Education is core to everything we do in the tasting room and our events. We want people to continually learn new and interesting things about wine to help deepen their appreciation and love for it. At the same time, we want to make sure people have a lot of fun. For wine club events, we want to express our gratitude for our members and make them feel special.”
Ashley doesn’t go it alone. She has a knack for open communication and teamwork. She gathers input and builds consensus to make sure the team is involved in a great outcome. She values the opinions of tasting room associates who are meeting with customers every day and uses that input to make sure our events are as fun and engaging as possible.
That collaborative approach made it easy for her to make the transition from being a tasting room associate to being a manager of the same people that she used to work alongside.
“We have had a really, really good team of seasoned professionals. Our personal relationships and the supportive environment have made the transition easy and rewarding.”
What Keeps Her Going
The wine business — beyond what is inside the bottle — energizes Ashley. She is fascinated by the growing process in the vineyard, how wine is made, the chemistry behind it, and the art.
“One of the things I learned when I first started that was mind-blowing is that really good wine starts with really good grapes in the vineyard. No matter how good the winemaker is, you must have good fruit. It starts in the vines. I visit the vineyards as often as possible. I’ve helped with planting new vines, helped with harvest, and led tours of the vineyard. I get to cool continuously learn about the vineyard.”
Ashley has always been interested in chemistry and science, going back to even before her days working at the vet clinic. To pursue that passion in the wine industry, she has assisted as a “cellar rat” to help make the wine. In so doing, she has been able to shadow our winemaker, Joanna Wilczoch, in the lab and learn about all of the aspects that go into the wine.
Ashley’s Favorite Wines
“The wine at Pedernales Cellars is exceptional. I love our rosé. I could literally drink our rosé all day. I am also a huge fan of our Tempranillo Reserve. Those are my two go-to wines. I exclusively drink Texas wine. There are a lot of great wines made in Texas, so when I’m not drinking our wine, it is from one of our neighbors.”
Join Ashley at Our Next Events
“I love introducing people to Texas wine and letting them experience how great it is. I want everyone to feel welcome at Pedernales Cellars events. Wine events aren’t always prim and proper. They can be super casual and fun. It's all about enjoying excellent wine, delicious food, and just enjoying the scene. You don’t have to be a serious wine expert to have a great time at our events. I can’t wait for people to come to our next few events.
Fall Feast Vintner’s Dinner is our most popular dinner of the year. It is held after hours on the patio hosted by an owner. Our featured chef prepares special dishes and presents each course paired with our wines. It is coming up on Saturday, October 29, starting at 5:00 PM.
The KO Wine Club Pick-Up Party will be held on Sunday, October 30. This is only for members who have joined this allocation club. It is definitely an elevated pairing experience, so dress up.
The Tempranillo Tasting Room Take-Over on Sunday, December 11 is going to be a blast. We will have an all-Tempranillo tasting flight with a vertical of older Tempranillos from the Library, in addition to our current release, the 2019 Reserve Tempranillo.
Our Winter 2022 Wine Club Pick-Up Party will be held on Sunday, December 4. The winter party is typically our most relaxed club event, and I look forward to it every year. It has a chill vibe and people come in a festive holiday mood. It is a great time to stock up for holiday parties.”
We love the Texas Hill Country. There’s a reason we built our winery where we did—views for days! Driving through the Texas Hill Country, one can feel their shoulders relaxing, their jaws unclenching, and the stress just melting away.
Summer is a busy travel season, and we know many of you will be visiting our neck of the woods soon. We welcome you to swing by! Whether visiting the Texas Hill Country for the first or fiftieth time, we want to give you a few ideas to make the most of your visit.
Our Pedernales Cellars winery and tasting room in Stonewall, Texas is a perfect place to start or end your Hill Country adventure. Our property is nestled in the heart of the Texas wine country, on 145 acres of oak-shaded land, with unparalleled views of the beautiful Pedernales River Valley. Enjoy a tasting experience of select wines guided by our knowledgeable staff, and then take in the scenery on our spacious patio or expansive lawn with wine by the glass, or by the bottle. We feature live music by local artists each Saturday. We welcome leashed pets on the patio or the lawn while you enjoy our wine. We are open seven days a week and encourage reservations to enjoy a tasting at the tasting room bar.
Places to Stay
Rose Hill Retreat: This charming bed and breakfast just happens to be our next-door neighbor. It’s very convenient to check into your suite or cottage at Rose Hill and then meander over our way for a wine tasting. Or you can pick up a bottle to enjoy later in your room.
Stonewall Motor Lodge: This funky retro motel down the road from us was built in 1964, and the recent remodel and update harkens back to that era stylistically while providing all the modern amenities for its guests. Rent a room or a private cabin or dock your RV in one of their RV slots.
Blue Skies Retro Resort: If you love the idea of staying in a retro trailer, this is where you want to be. Lodging at the resort is at one of several updated retro trailers, and they have a pool on the property. Winding down at the pool with a bottle of Pedernales Cellars wine is a perfect end to a summer day in the Texas Hill Country.
Driving tour of the LBJ Ranch at LBJ Ranch National Park: Right now the Texas White House is closed for touring, but you can still drive through the ranch and see the house and LBJ’s boyhood home from the outside. It’s a fun way to spend an hour or two.
Stonewall and Fredericksburg peaches: You can expect to see German culture and wineries year-round in the area, but summer is special because our famous peaches are in season! Enjoy a tour of a peach orchard and buy a bag of peaches.
You can pick your own peaches at Jehnske Orchards in Fredericksburg. Vogel Orchards, Gold Orchards, and Burg’s Corner are great places to visit in Stonewall. Any of these places are fun to visit and are great places to buy peaches. Look out at these spots and around the Fredericksburg town square for the ever-popular peach soft serve ice cream—it’s a refreshing way to cool down on a hot summer day.
Pedernales Falls State Park: This is a glorious spot, especially for anyone who loves hiking, mountain biking, and swimming in a true natural setting. The Pedernales River is in the middle of the park and reached by a hike along a steep and rocky trail about a quarter of a mile in. There are also fun spots for geocaching if you are into that. Always check the website for trail closures and other safety info.
Shopping in Fredericksburg: Hit up Main Street or the Warehouse District for boutique stores to find Texas treasures to take home with you. Invest in some comfy cowboy boots or grab some Texas-made gourmet items like BBQ sauce, chocolate, and olive oil. You can also find plenty of kitschy items that make fun gifts for those back home or make a nice memento of your trip there.
Places to Eat
Hye Market Bistro & Deli: This local favorite up the road in Hye is a super popular spot, open for lunch only. They source as much local and in-season food as possible, so expect the menu to change. They are encouraging online ordering during the busy season.
Bryan’s on 290: Open for dinner only, Bryan’s on 290 is for when you want to get dressed up and enjoy an elegant night out. Bryan’s is in Johnson City, which is also nearby on “Wine Road” 290. Chef Bryan Gillenwater has made a name for himself with his live-fire specialties. They also host wine-paired dinners from time to time.
Ottos’ Grill: With Fredericksburg’s German history and the abundance of local farms in the Texas Hill Country area, this farm-to-table German restaurant makes a lot of sense. They are open for dinner and Sunday brunch. The menu changes but is sure to offer the best local ingredients and German recipes.
Cabernet Grill: Another high-end option in Fredericksburg is this classy restaurant boasting the largest selection of Texas wines, so be sure to ask for pairing recommendations. Chef Ross Burtwell brings style and flair to his Hill Country fare. Make sure to save room for dessert here, as they are sublime.
Martini’s Seafood House: This Fredericksburg spot is for when you have a craving for delicious seafood. The Spicy Lobster Roll is recommended. They also have a selection of raw oysters, crab cakes, and a seafood tower for sharing.
Pedernales Cellars: Of course, we think you should fit a wine course in every day! We have a lovely cheese and charcuterie board to snack on with your wine. It will tide you over until dinnertime.
We do hope to see you at our winery soon. There’s nothing quite as serene as watching the sunset in the big Texas sky over the Texas Hill Country! We often find ourselves catching our breath when we watch it from our property.
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.
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!
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.
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.
If ever there were a year to count our blessings and celebrate the little victories in life, 2020 is the one. This year’s trials and tribulations serve as a great reminder to recognize our friends and family with a gift to acknowledge how much we genuinely care for each other.
Finding the perfect gift can sometimes be perplexing. Pro tip: Wine works for nearly everyone on your list! May we suggest some Pedernales Cellars wine? Our wines come in numerous varieties and price points, are easy to order and have shipped (eliminating the need to go into a store), and taste crazy delicious. Problem solved!
Here are our gift suggestions for your friends and family:
Impress Them on a Budget — Pedernales Cellars High Plains Tempranillo
Giving an incredible gift doesn’t require you to break the bank. Our Pedernales Cellars High Plains Tempranillo is an excellent wine that’s sure to impress at a modest price. We make it with grapes grown in three prestigious vineyards in the Texas High Plains and lovingly age it for a year in American Oak. It has a deep ruby color with a classic bouquet of leather, cigar, cherry, blackberry, and cedar, with bright cherry flavor and earth notes. It’s a gift-worthy wine with medium tannins, balanced acidity, and a soft mouthfeel with lingering cocoa notes. It pairs really well with Prime Rib for Christmas dinner. Our High Plains Tempranillo would make old St. Nick proud.
Impress Your Boss — 2016 Family Reserve
For the difficult-to-impress people on your gift list, bust out our 2016 Family Reserve. This wine lets our winemakers’ artistry shine through by blending our favorite lots of the best fruit from some of our favorite growers. The Family Reserve has been one of our most beloved wines to make, as it lets us show off the finest aspects of each vintage using intentionally nontraditional blends of grapes. This vintage is led by Tempranillo and Malbec along with Petite Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Mourvèdre, Merlot, and Sangiovese, giving the wine complex aromas of cherries, raspberries, black pepper, cocoa, anise, with floral notes. It is a medium-bodied wine with dried strawberries, cherries, raspberries, and black pepper, with hints of dried herbs and cocoa flavors. The recipient of this gift will be excited to enjoy this bottle today, or to age for years to come.
To Win the White Elephant — Glögg and Ginger Snaps
White Elephant gift exchanges are notorious for quirky presents. Adding our Stonewall Glögg, a Swedish-style mulled wine, brings something unique wine to the party that stands out from the gag gifts. This is Christmas in a bottle, complete with comforting baking spices like nutmeg, clove, and cinnamon. We love Glögg paired with Swedish spiced holiday cookies, so it’s a great idea to throw in a package of Ginger Snaps with your gift.
For the True Wine Lover — Pedernales Cellars Wine Club Membership
If you have a real wine lover on your gift list, consider giving them the gift that keeps on giving with a Pedernales Cellars Wine Club Membership. We offer three different club tiers, each providing members with quarterly shipments of our wines meticulously selected by our winemakers. Each club tier comes with additional perks that will continue to remind your gift recipient of how much they mean to you.
For the Bubbly Lover — Kyla Pét-Nat Rosé
A great gift for the sparkling wine fanatics in your life is the Pedernales Cellars Kyla (pronounced, “shoola”) Pétillant Naturel Rosé sparkling wine made with 100% estate-grown Tempranillo. This is an incredibly joyful wine any time of the year, and it adds pizzazz to the holidays. Its vibrant effervescence, cheery cherry and cranberry flavors, and gorgeous pink color make it a star to include under any Christmas tree. Kyla Pét-Nat Rosé is only available in the tasting room, not online. Please call the tasting room at (830) 644-2037 to reserve a bottle or case for curbside pickup.
For the Last-Minute Gift — Dreaming of a Wine Christmas Special
We all get busy during the holidays. To make things easier for you, we have created a one-stop-shop for a 3-Bottle Dreaming of a Wine Christmas Special. With a couple of clicks, send these three food-friendly wines to each of your friends. This special holiday bundle highlights the history of the Kuhlken family, who migrated to Texas in 1853, paving the way for sixth-generation Texans, Julie and David Kuhlken, to plant vines in the Hill Country in 1995. The Dreaming of a Wine Christmas Includes one bottle each:
- 2017 Cuvée 1853
- 2017 Newsom Vineyards North Block
- 2018 Texas Albariño
We wish you and your loved ones a joyous holiday season. We welcome you to explore our wines to come up with your own gift-giving ideas: /Wines. Cheers!