Piney Woods Wine Trail – Independence Day Weekend 2015 – Day 2 part 2


To get caught up on what we were doing in East Texas over Independence Day weekend here’s a quote from a previous post.

As is tradition (Well, if you can call three years in a row tradition) we spent the 4th of July holiday with our friends Mickey and Gay tasting wine. While that last two years were spent mostly in the Texas Hill Country we decided to head to East Texas and the Piney Woods Wine Trail. To say the wineries are spread out would be an understatement. So if you’re headed that way just remember that there may be 60 miles or more between two wineries you’re interested in. It’s not like the 290 Wine Trail where there are dozens of wineries in a 20-30 mile stretch. We knew that before we left and it was no problem for us.

Our plan on July 4th was to have lunch at Crump Valley Vineyards and then head to Enoch’s Stomp Vineyards & Winery to taste wine and have dinner there. We planned on ending the evening in Longview for fireworks and then heading back to our B&B in Tyler.

We arrived at Enoch’s Stomp around 4pm and after navigating the winding and hilly driveway we parked and walked up the stairs to the tasting room. One thing we all noticed on the way in was how beautiful the vineyard, buildings, and grounds were. I went to college in Longview in the early 80’s and I don’t recall East Texas being so beautiful. At first we were going to sit on the open deck for our tasting but not long after sitting down a few raindrops started falling. We moved to the covered area still outside with wonderful views of the facility. It was very pleasant for July 4th in Texas. Not too hot or uncomfortable at all.


Tastings are served in mini-carafes

We chose a “dry” tasting flight to share that was served in mini-carafes along with a couple wine glasses for my wife and me. Our tasting consisted of Blanc Du Bois both off-dry and dry, Merlot, Norton, and Cabernet Sauvignon. We both liked the BdB off-dry and the Norton the best. This is a unique way to taste that we’ve only experienced at one other place. I’m not sure if I like it or not. On one hand it allows you to go at your own pace and discuss the wine with those around you without the staff around to be self-conscience about. On the other hand you depend mostly on the tasting menu to get all the information about the wines you’re tasting. I like to get the servers perspective sometimes. It should be noted that not all the servers at Enoch’s Stomp are old enough or able to drink alcohol and will usually have to refer you to someone else if you have questions or want opinions about the wines. On a good note, our server was happy to allow us to taste a couple more we were interested in since he had never tasted them himself. Additionally, at some point Blake came by our table and discussed the wines with us for a few minutes. So in the end we felt we had a pretty good handle on the wines and a good idea of what we’d have with dinner and desert.


View of the restaurant and vineyard from down by the lake

A little after 5pm we walked across the drive to the restaurant for dinner. We were a walk-in and they had room and were happy to seat us on the outside deck overlooking the vineyard and pond. A wonderful view for dinner. The off-dry Blanc Du Bois was ordered to go with the variety of food the four of us planned on eating. A simple cheeseburger with rosemary parmesan fries for me, stuffed chicken breast, crab cakes, and salads for the others. The food hit the spot for a nice 4th of July evening. It was at that point we realized that they were going to be having a fireworks show over the lake at nightfall. It was still too early for us to simply keep our table so we decided we’d walk around some and hope we could get a deck table again for desert and fireworks.

After a walk around the vineyard and the lake we headed back to the restaurant for desert. We were lucky that an open table was still available on the deck and we grabbed it. Both couples ordered the Tres Leches with fried ice cream that we complemented with “Marla’s Melody,” a sweet white similar to orange liqueur. A nice East Texas breeze started to kick up and some even commented that they could use a sweater. How’s that for July 4th in Texas? We were able to milk the desert long enough that we had our spot claimed for the fireworks show. It was a great way to end our Independence Day holiday. Enochs5

Enoch’s Stomp Vineyards & Winery is not too hard to find. It’s about 18 miles from Longview on Ferguson Road which runs east and west between Highways 450 and 154. Our iPhone GPS has no issues finding it. If you go I would suggest that you plan on stay awhile. The tasting is best done taking your time and the restaurant is well worth visiting.

Piney Woods Wine Trail – Independence Day Weekend 2015 – Day 2 part 1


To get caught up on what we were doing in East Texas over Independence Day weekend here’s a quote from a previous post.

As is tradition (Well, if you can call three years in a row tradition) we spent the 4th of July holiday with our friends Mickey and Gay tasting wine. While that last two years were spent mostly in the Texas Hill Country we decided to head to East Texas and the Piney Woods Wine Trail. To say the wineries are spread out would be an understatement. So if you’re headed that way just remember that there may be 60 miles or more between two wineries you’re interested in. It’s not like the 290 Wine Trail where there are dozens of wineries in a 20-30 mile stretch. We knew that before we left and it was no problem for us.

The plan for July 4th was to head to Crump Valley Vineyards and Enoch’s Stomp Vineyard & Winery. One the way to Crump Valley we would be passing through Lindale so we planned on stopping by the Miranda Lambert store and Red 55 winery. Unfortunately when we arrived at Red 55 we noticed almost all the parking spots empty and another couple looking longingly into the door at the entrance. Closed on the 4th. Too bad for us. No problem, we just got back into our car and headed to Crump Valley.

Crump Valley Vineyards is just south of Sulpher Springs right of Highway 19. Our GPS took us right too it but it came up quick and we had to break a little hard to make the turn onto Crump Lane. There’s a nice big sign on the building and you can miss the 1/2 acre vineyard of Blanc Du Bois out front.

As we entered we were greeted by Diana and asked if either Dave Potter or Travis Crump were around. Dave is a fellow member of the Texas Wine Drinkers FaceBook group and I’ve been wanting to meet him. Travis Crump is the owner and wine maker and we met him briefly a couple weeks ago at the Discover Wine Festival in Houston. The bad news was Dave was enjoying personal time away but the good news was that Travis was on site.

We knew we would eat lunch here but I wanted to do my tasting flight first so I could decide what wine to have with my food. The ladies did get appetizers of Bruchetta and Smoked Salmon Crostini. They ended up making that their meal. I’ve heard a lot of good things about Crump Valley’s dry Blanc Du Bois (BdB) and wanted to try it. I’m on this adventure trying all BdB’s offered to me to see all the different ways it’s made and different tastes. This one was different than anything I’ve tasted made by this grape. Travis stated that it was aged 18 months in light toasted American oak which is a change for BdB production. I’m not a sommelier by any stretch of the imagination but I got a somewhat “industrial” characteristic on the nose. Then the taste was totally different. A hint of oak and a lot of body. I left with a bottle and want to try it again without the context of other wines competing with smell and taste. Honestly, our table was split 50/50 on whether we liked it our not. I was in the “liked it” group. Travis said that that’s been the history so far, winning awards in some competitions and not even placing in others. Very interesting indeed.

Nice taste of Blanc Du Bois

Nice taste of Blanc Du Bois

I finished my tasting and one thing is clear, Travis is an accomplished wine maker. All the wines were finished with style and clarity. No real “duds” in the group. I ended up having a glass of Merlot with my meal of Beef Kabob with Wild Rice. A great July 4th combination!

Travis gave us a short tour of the facility including the barrel aging room, tank area, and bottling area which also served as an area for chemistry. We were impressed with Travis’s “pay as you go” philosophy and equally impressed with his stories of “inventing” equipment when the cost was too great to simply buy it. We loved the ingenuity.

We are thankful for the hospitality both Travis and Diana showed us while we were there. We hope to go back again soon. Do yourself a favor and get by there soon. They have a great food menu and outstanding portfolio of wines. Easy to get to and not too far to venture off I-30 if you’re driving through Sulpher Springs.

Piney Woods Wine Trail – Independence Day Weekend 2015 – Day 1 part 2


As is tradition (Well, if you can call three years in a row tradition) we spent the 4th of July holiday with our friends Mickey and Gay tasting wine. While that last two years were spent mostly in the Texas Hill Country we decided to head to East Texas and the Piney Woods Wine Trail. To say the wineries are spread out would be an understatement. So if you’re headed that way just remember that there may be 60 miles or more between two wineries you’re interested in. It’s not like the 290 Wine Trail where there are dozens of wineries in a 20-30 mile stretch. We knew that before we left and it was no problem for us.

As you can read in a previous post we started our day at Kiepersol for lunch and a visit to their distillery and winery. After that we headed into Tyler to check into the Woldert-Spence Manor, a bed & breakfast that would be our home for the next two nights. If you need a place to stay in or near Tyler check this B&B out. The owners are fantastic, great conversationalists, good cooks, and the rooms are comfortable. After meeting the owners/hosts and a quick nap we headed off to Pittsburg, TX and Los Pinos Ranch Vineyards.

It took well over an hour to get to Los Pinos and the roads are so remote looking we started to think we were lost. I know the GPS in my Honda was a little confused. We did eventually find it and pulled into the almost full parking lot. Being the Independence Day holiday weekend we weren’t sure what we’d find at the winery. We’ve been to some on this holiday and found them empty except for us and we also found others that were almost full. Los Pinos was bustling with activity and people when we arrived around 7pm. Lucky for us a table just cleared up at the end of the patio and we were able to get seated right away.


Tastings served in mini-carafes

We planned on eating but we had heard about Los Pinos unique tasting experience and wanted to start with that. Instead of a server pouring each wine as you taste through their portfolio, Los Pinos brings your tasting in 6 mini-carafes along with a glass for you to do a self-guided taste. Just make sure you have a wine menu in order to learn about what you’re tasting. You can choose a sweet flight or dry flight. I chose the dry flight though it did include a couple sweet wines at the end. Standouts for me were their Meritage and award winning “Texican.” A nice blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese. I also liked the dry Blanc Du Bois called Blanco Grande that I tasted from my wife’s flight. This tasting process works except that I miss the interaction with the server and their descriptions and impression of the wines.

Sometime during the tasting I looked up to see a blond woman looking between me and her phone screen. It turned out to be Darlene Bruckbauer, a FaceBook friend from the Texas Wine Drinkers group on FB. It wasn’t by accident as we were communicating through comments on FB during the day. It’s great to meet people you’ve interacted with and have common interests with but never met face-to-face. Darlene is an advocate of East Texas wine and passionate about the cause of Texas wine in general. It was great to talk with her and meet another Texas wine lover.


Tasty ribs with a glass of Blanco Grande

After finishing our tasting we finally ordered a meal. My wife had some kind of salad. I won’t elaborate because I don’t do salad. I ordered the ribs and a glass of Blanco Grande, their dry Blanc Du Bois to have with my meal. Maybe not a typical paring but the food and wine went well together in my opinion. The ribs were tender and tasted great with the included BBQ sauce and the serving was just enough to satisfy without feeling overstuffed.

We enjoyed our evening at Los Pinos Ranch Vineyards. It was a busy place on a pre-holiday Friday evening. I would like to go back sometime earlier in the day so that I could have some conversation with some of the staff. For me that’s what makes wine tasting fun. We didn’t get to meet the owners this trip either. Perhaps next time we’ll plan ahead a little better. You should know that getting there is not too hard if you follow directions. Just don’t get worried when the roads get narrow and bumpy. This is due to the fact that you’re in deep East Texas and driving on county roads maintained by limited county budgets. You’ll get there and you will enjoy yourself.

Come back to the blog again for day two of our Independence Day holiday weekend on the Piney Woods Wine Trail.

Piney Woods Wine Trail – Independence Day Weekend 2015 – Day 1 Part 1


As is tradition (Well, if you can call three years in a row tradition) we spent the 4th of July holiday with our friends Mickey and Gay tasting wine. While that last two years were spent mostly in the Texas Hill Country we decided to head to East Texas and the Piney Woods Wine Trail. To say the wineries are spread out would be an understatement. So if you’re headed that way just remember that there may be 60 miles or more between two wineries you’re interested in. It’s not like the 290 Wine Trail where there are dozens of wineries in a 20-30 mile stretch. We knew that before we left and it was no problem for us.


View of the Kiepersol Restaurant from our table

Our weekend started on Friday morning when we left Houston in the morning for an 11:30 reservation at the Kiepersol Restaurant. Kiepersol is just south of Tyler and took us about three hours to get to. When we walked into the restaurant we were in awe. Based on the decor and environment I thought surely we’d drop $150 or more for lunch. We were seated by a window with a beautiful view of the grounds. The group deferred to me to pick a bottle from the wine list. Of course, they were all Kiepersol wines which was okay with us. I’m a big fan of their 2010 Estate Syrah which they’re out of at the winery (I still have about four bottles cellared.) so I went right to the 2011 version. We were not disappointed. Very similar to the 2010 with a little more bite on the finish. Still relatively smooth though. I’m sure that will smooth out even more in another year or so. I’m not a “foodie” so I won’t talk about what everyone had except to say that I had a nice lightly breaded chicken dish that was delicious. During lunch we saw Pierre de Wet stop by the kitchen. Marnelle Durrett, head winemaker and Pierre’s daughter stopped by our table for a quick hello and visit. We all shared a molten chocolate cake with ice cream. So the damages? Well, we divided the ticket and it was only about $50 per couple plus tip. Not bad at all! A great value.


Pierre showing us his custom designed distilling tank.

After our dinner we decided to visit the Kiepersol Distillery. The distillery is located right next to the winery and they have yellow tape marking the walkway where you can’t cross with with distilled spirits into the winery or with wine into the distillery. Funny and antiquated TABC rules in my opinion. We ran into Pierre de Wet on the porch of the distillery and engaged him in some conversation before entering the tasting area. My wife and I shared a tasting flight of the Dirk’s Texas Vodka, Pierre’s Texas Rum, and Jimmy’s Texas Bourbon. All easy to drink straight and great with mixers as the “mixologist” Michelle demonstrated with some great holiday specials. The vodka stuck out in my mind as it was distilled from grapes. It had a great taste and I enjoyed it a lot. Pierre happened to come inside and offered us an informal tour of the distillery. Along the way he talked about how they got into distilling and gave a great explanation of their custom distilling tanks. Marnelle also joined us and it was fun to see the father-daughter interaction between them and hear explanations from their differing perspectives. Pierre offered us a sneak peak taste of something special he’s working on and lets just say that we’ll be making a trip up there again to get some when it’s released. Yes, check out the distillery.

After the distillery we crossed the magic “yellow lines” to the Kiepersol Winery and we were promptly invited to tag along on the winery tour led by Marnelle and Pierre. We started in the vineyard and had a taste of two grapes from the same cluster. One still green and one in “veraison” stage. Basically more ripe. It was no surprise, the green one was still sour and the riper one sweeter. Kiepersol has 61 acres of vines planted with about 16 varietals. Pierre said “the smart guys said we couldn’t grow vinifera grapes here. Well, look around.” They’ve found the key and I get the idea that their vines get lots of attention. We all headed to the tank room and barrel storage area. It was quite interesting to see how they had re-purposed a parts warehouse forklift to be a barrel forklift with safety in mind. Their stories of “Angel’s share” (evaporation) and aging of the wine were told with passion and excitement. I think the wine makers and owners are still amazed at the whole process even after all these years. At the end of the tour we were treated to a sample of the 2012 Syrah and another blend which the name of escapes me. Both destined to be great wines when released around December of this year.

We ended our stay at Kiepersol with some tastes in the tasting room. Two wines of particular note, to me anyway, were the Viognier and the Barrel 33 red blend. The Viognier competes with many of the good ones I’ve had around the state and the Barrel 33 is on par with one of my favorite California blends. Of course, I don’t want to forget one of my favorites from Kiepersol, the Syrah. A nice wine that I could drink everyday and not get tired of.

Kiepersol is easy to find just a couple miles off Hwy 69 south of Tyler. Don’t be confused when you turn on to Syrah Lane. You will be driving through a neighborhood with many nice homes. You’ll be wanting to live there by the time you get to the winery. If you want to go to the restaurant for a meal be sure to call ahead for reservations as they can be busy at time.

I’ll continue day one of our adventure in another post.

Majek Vineyard & Winery – 5/9/2015


I had the pleasure of visiting Majek Vineyard & Winery on my way home from the Hill Country area in the evening of Saturday, May 9th. During the trip I was watching the time closely hoping that I got there in time. Lucky me, I got there with just less than an hour to go before closing. I’ve had a couple Facebook interactions with Randy Majek in the Texas Wine Drinkers group and was hoping to meet him when I stopped in. As I entered the tasting room Randy was right by the door. We greeted each other and he directed me to a table where I began my tasting. At this time I also got to meet IMG_3085.2015-05-09_231115Randy’s wife Lynne Majek. Randy and his capable staff tag-teamed my tasting of several wines served in an un-traditional “wine” glass. Or maybe should I say traditional. Lynne said they think that this is how “grandpa would have drank it.”

While I won’t mention every wine I tasted a few were standouts for me. Remember, I’m not a sommelier and can’t describe wine like one would so I’ll just give my redneck impressions. Wine made from Blanc Du Bois (BdB) is becoming something I enjoy more each time I taste it as wine makers learn how to bring out the character and flavor of this grape. Their sparkling dry BdB is outstanding. I’m not a champagne drinker but I can see drinking this whenever others would reach for the bubbly. I can’t wait for my wife to try the bottle I brought home. The non-sparkling dry BdB was excellent. Nice and crisp and the citrus notes were evident. I also had the 2013 Tempranillo sourced from the Texas High Planes. A dry red wine that had strong notes of vanilla. Randy said that that quality has just started to come out in the last few weeks. It’s amazing how wine character changes over time. Especially if it improves it! Majek’s 2013 Lenior (Black Spanish) wine is now on the “reserve” list. You can still get it but you better hurry. I love the story on their blog about their road trip getting the lenior grapes from the Gibson vineyard in Weimar to Texas Custom Wine works in Brownfield. It makes this wine all the more special. Like BdB Texas wine makers are getting better in making good wine from this grape. What used to be almost exclusively used for port/dessert wines is now making great drinking dry wines. This one fits that category. As taken as I was with the Tempranillo, I was impressed even more by this Lenior. It had nice oak and a very soft mouth feel. The tannins have smoothed out nicely in my opinion.

During my tasting I was able to enjoy conversation with both Lynne and Randy. Maybe one of the benefits of showing up close to closing time. You should read their story (Or Saga) here. You won’t be sorry and you’ll find it interesting to hear some of what they went trough to get where they are today. One thing I took away from the visit, and Lynne conformed this. If you have an idea of something you want to do take the plunge and go for it.

What you need to know:

-Majek Vineyard and Winery is about 8 miles outside Schulenburg, TX near Moravia on the south side of I-10. It’s about half way between Houston and San Antonio. They have good directions on their website.

-They have wine for beginner to enthusiast wine drinkers. You should be able to find something you like. You can do a dry or sweet tasting (or maybe a combination) for a very reasonable price.

-They’ve been dropping the grapes on their estate vines of Blanc Du Bois and Lenior while waiting for them to mature. I believe they will make wine from this year’s crop if everything goes well.

-Take your time and enjoy their vineyard. It’s beautiful and relaxing. A great getaway from Houston or San Antonio (Or even Austin!)


Saddlehorn Winery Revisited


A little over two years I visited Saddlehorn Winery which is located in Burton, Texas and not too far from Brenham. The visit was on a Sunday afternoon and they weren’t too busy at the time. I don’t remember much about from that visit except that the wines were okay and I enjoyed a muscat that they offered at the time. My wife and I also visited a year ago as part of the February Bluebonnet Wine Trail wine and chocolate event. I can’t remember what we tried then but I know it was something sweet to go with the chocolate.

Fast forward to the last week in February this year. I was on my way to Taylor, TX and was early so I decided to stop in again and take my time sipping through a tasting. It was a Thursday afternoon and pretty quiet in the tasting room. Emilee greeted me and invited me to taste my choice of six wines from their tasting menu for $10. My tasting was standing at the bar. She let me know they had a new Blanc du Bois (Texas, N.V) that wasn’t on the list yet so that’s what I started with. Emilee was very knowledgeable about the wines including what they tasted like and where the grapes were from. I was happy that she was willing to share that some came from CA, some from OR, and of course some from TX. She also seemed to really know that processes that got the wine from grapes to the bottle. This post is not meant to be a critique of wines just an account of my visit. I’m not a sommolier or a wine “Critic.” I just know what tastes good to me. What I’ll say about the wines is that the winemaker/owner (Steve I think) is really developing his craft. The reds, especially the Cab and Malbec, made much more of an impression on me than two years ago. The Blanc du Bois was one of the better ones I’ve had in a while. I enjoyed a glass of Riesling (Oregon) after my tasting while relaxing in the lounge area.

It was a fun visit and I plan on going back soon with my wife in tow. If you haven’t visited Saddlehorn in a while I highly recommend you stop by. It’s just a simple one mile trek off state highway 290.

Wine Making Class – The End


Several months ago I posted a “Part 1” article on a wine making class that I took at Defalco’s-Home Wine and Beer Supplies in Houston, TX. I said that I would follow up with an additional post. Well, laziness and procrastination took over and this post is my attempt to get back on track writing blog posts.

At the second session of our class we racked our Vintner’s Reserve Sauvignon Blanc and Vintner’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon kits into 6 gallon carboys. This was an interesting step to me because it was the first time I’ve ever seen and smelled a wine product after fermentation was pretty much complete and it taught me a lot about getting the “good stuff” off the dead yeast and particulate (“lees”). The class leader Scott asked if anyone wanted to taste the wine at this point. Most in the class seemed reticent to taste but I was very interested to see what it tasted like at this point. Since I planned on making my own wine after the class I wanted to get an idea of the progress at this point so that I could compare and tell if my wine was going down a good path after fermentation. I’ll admit it tasted “yeasty” and not very refined but it didn’t taste unpleasant or bad. If it had been spoiled or compromised I’m sure we would have been able to tell.

The following week we degassed using a whip and started the clarification process. I missed the class due to being out of town on business but Scott walked me through the steps. When we showed up the following week the wine was pretty clear but we let it set and began making a raspberry flavored honey mead.

Skipping to bottling we began our process using a Bottle Rinser (Sulphatizer) to sanitize the bottles. It was a simple process of filling the rinser with sanitizing solution and pressing the bottle down on the spring loaded nipple that was in the rinser. This spread the liquid sanitizer efficiently around the inside of the bottle which was then put on a 90 Bottle drying tree
to dry out some. The bottling began with using an Auto-Siphon – 3/8″, plastic tubing, and a Plastic Spring Tip Bottle Filler. From there it was pretty easy going. Just fill the bottle to the top and pull out the bottle filler. The displacement of the filler when removed left the perfect amount of wine in the bottle. We finished up the bottling using a Floor Corking Machine
and then added custom made labels to the wine bottles.

That was pretty much it to the class. I learned the process of kit wine making and have since completed two kits on my own and have a third going. It’s a fun process. Next I want to make wine from ingredients instead of a kit. I’ll keep you updated on how that goes.

Winemaking Class – Part 1


I just completed my first ever wine making class that was put on and taught by the fine folks at Defalco’s-Home Wine and Beer Supplies in Houston. It was a weekly class that met on Tuesday evenings for 6 weeks. Just long enough to make a couple batches and get them bottled.

The class covered equipment needed for home wine-making and went over the various steps. We made a white and a red from kits readily available at Defalco’s. As a class we walked the aisles to choose the wines to make. We were told that some were designed to be make in about 4 weeks and some 6-8 weeks. Most would be ready to drink in 6-12 months after bottling. We chose two Vintner’s Reserve kits, Vintner’s Reserve Sauvignon Blanc and Vintner’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.

We sanitized the primary fermenting bucket with sodium metabisuphite as-well-as the other equipment being used. It was pre-mixed in a one gallon glass jug. I will be doing the same thing in my home making process. We learned that the solution is ok to splash a little and can simply be washed off your hands. We also learned that it is more the gas of the solution opposed to the solution itself that does the sanitizing so it’s important to let things “sit” awhile.

The water used was simply from one of those “windmill” water stations. After sanitizing we added some of the water to the primary fermenting buckets and mixed in bentonite from the kits. Then the juice concentrate was opened and added to the bucket. We mixed back in to the juice container some water several times to make sure we got all the juice out. Right before adding the yeast we added the included oak chips.

We “re-hydrated” the yeast with a little warm water and let it sit when mixing the juice in the fermenter. One note, Scott and Jim suggested adding an additional packet of yeast to the mix to help kick it off better. Another thing I will do in my first batch at home.

At this point we buttoned everything up by securing the lid and adding the air lock. We’ll come back next week for our first racking.

Stay tuned for part 2…

Malbec – Texas vs. Argentina


We had some friends in town visiting over the weekend and we wanted to do something different while enjoying a little wine. I happened to have two bottles of Malbec in the cabinet. One from Argentina, a Bodega Norton Reserva Malbec 2010 and one from Texas, a Haak Vinyards Malbec 2010. We decided it would be fun to “blind taste” the two bottles side-by-side and compare notes. It’s fair to note that my wife and I enjoyed a bottle of the Norton the previous week so it was still fresh in our memories.  Note that this is not meant to be a wine review just some impressions of tasting wine from two different regions.

We each got two wine glasses and one at a time turned our backs while someone else poured for us. Upon turning around we compared the color, smell, and taste. Going into this I really expected that the Malbec from Argentina would overwhealm the one from Texas. That turned out to not be the case.

Color impressions: When I turned around I immediatly know which wine was which. It was mostly because I had tried the Norton a week earlier. The Haak malbec had a more “orange” color to it while the Norton malbec was deeper purple/garnet. Both wines were “pretty” in the glass.Malbec Texas vs Argentina

Nose impressoins: We all thought the Haak malbec smelled nicer. It was floral and peppery. One description I heard was “wildflower and oak.” The Norton malbec was described as “buttery oak.” We all enjoyed just smelling the Haak malbec.

Taste: Here’s where we were all surprised. Both wines were enjoyable. While the Texas malbec from Haak was “harsher” it wasn’t overly so. One description was “burlap” but that’s not a knock on it, just a description. It was spicier to taste. The Norton was smoother, described as “velvety.” It had a smoother and longer finish.

As the evening progressed we finished to bottle of Malbec from Haak winery and enjoyed it very much. We saved the Norton for consumption the next day. The bottom line is this, the Texas Malbec from Haak holds its own against the Argentina malbec. I would have no problem serving either wine to visitors or simply as an evening drink.

Want to win a trip to the Texas Hill Country?


As you may have heard Wine Enthusiast magazine announced the Texas Hill country as one of the 10 Best Wine Travel Destinations for 2014 in a recent article. This makes me want to travel the various Texas wine trails even more.

Be sure to checkout Wine Enthusiast reviews of Texas wines.

In addtion to the great article they’ve also announced a contest that will take the winner on a trip to the Texas Hill Country for several days to enjoy great Texas wine and food. Something any of us would want to do at any time even though we’re already in Texas.

The winner gets the following great prizes:

  • Round-trip flights and transportation for two to Texas
  • Up to 8-night accommodations at local B&Bs and winery accommodations in the Texas Hill Country
  • Guaranteed visits at up to 12 wineries
  • Select exquisite multi-course wine-and-food dinners.


The winner will get a great itinery to great Texas eateries and wineries such as Flat Creek Estate, Bending Branch Winery, Becker Vineyards, Cotton Gin, The Bistro at Flat Creek Estate, Otto’s German Bistro, Lewis Wines, Pedernales Cellars, Perissos Vineyard and Winery, Grape Creek Vineyards, and Hill Country Bike & Wine. Plus many other cool things.

You can enter the contest at