Our plan was to visit a Texas winery on the way home from Dallas. My husband had surprised me with a quick trip for our anniversary and our teens are finally old enough to babysit themselves, so we had time to explore. Ironically, I’ve lived on Texas’ doorstep for over twenty years and have traveled all over it’s vast land, yet I’ve never tasted Texas wine. So you can imagine my excitement for this first Texas wine experience.
Here, I’m going to pause a moment for those with young children and let ‘teens babysitting themselves’ sink in.Yes, there comes a day when you can take an overnight trip and not have to get a sitter. It is a GLORIOUS day.
We meandered northwest over rural county roads and wide sweeping plains toward the quaint town of Muenster and it’s rich German heritage. Then farther north and closer to the Red River onto chalky gravel roads where among sweeping vistas and rocky terrain lies 4R Ranch Vineyard and Winery in the North Texas Hill country.The ranch and vineyard have been cultivated by 6 generations of Texans. 4R Ranch’s tasting room, the Wind Shed, opened last November and is named after the vast wind turbine farm that dominates the landscape.
Although the winery directions were clearly marked with signs, my distrust of google maps kicked in as we drove farther down a narrowing dirt track. Of course, it was completely unfounded, for there, on a rocky hill, a stone building came into view as we gunned the engine up the last steep, winding curve to the top. The entrance to the Wind Shed appeared sparse but sleek and curiously inviting. A simple front compliments a cantilevered deck in the back with a magnificent view of the Red River Valley. We soon discovered the view and wine to be utterly relaxing.
Stepping inside, we were charmed by the modern decor and inviting staff. The winery had just opened for the day but the place was already bustling with activity. This was a surprise since we hadn’t passed a single car on the way up for over twenty miles.There was a brief debate on whether to stay inside at the granite bar and air conditioning or sit outside. Both were great, however, one glance through the large glass doors and concern for the warm humidity evaporated. The view was amazing! We sat relaxed and mesmerized while watching turbines whirling in the distance, birds soaring between vistas and a deer bounding across the lower floor of the Red River valley.
We’d skipped lunch so their cheese plates and pub mixes were a welcome addition to our tasting. 4R Ranch offers a tasting flight of 3 or 5 of their 17 wines on the menu with all but two of the wines made solely from Texas grapes. Of course, we’re were going with all Texas for our flight of 5 wines which included 4R Ranch’s estate grown Viongier and Cabernet Sauvignon. By the end of our tasting, my husband leaned close to whisper, “Everyone’s envious of us.”
Huh? Startled out of my thoughts of wondering if the birds soaring in between the turbine blades ever smacked into them, I glanced around the deck. The view and wine had so captured my attention, I hadn’t noticed the place had filled up behind us. Peering over the railing into the valley below, my hubby was right. We had scored the best table and a thoroughly enjoyable overview of what Texas has to offer.
Although there was a pleasant breeze, the day was warming up typically Texas so for our flight we gratefully started with the orange-gold hued Viognier Estate “Texoma” 2015 and its refreshing fruit, load of acidity, and minerals. It was my husband’s favorite of the two light wines. Up next was the spicy Tempranillo Rosé “Stampfenstier” 2015 or the ‘Stomp Animal’. 4R Ranch has several of their wines named with a nod to the area’s German heritage. Their Rosé was classic and refreshing. The last three wines were red: Cabernet Sauvignon Estate “Texoma” 2013, Lenior/Grenache “Hoof und Hund”, my favorite, and the 4R Ranch “Texas”. The “Texas” is the winemaker’s homage to the wines of Chateauneuf-du-Papes with a constantly changing blend of Texas grown Rhone varietals. All three were delicious and balanced. Not a bad introduction to Texas wine!
I’m not that naive to assume every Texas winery produces stellar wine but for a first taste, this was a fantastic start. I wonder if in twenty-five years Texas will be the new Napa? Man, I hope so. It’ll save me a ton on airfare and wine shipping charges! In the meantime,“if you’re ever down in Texas” . . . get to a winery!