Julie and I had passed Rosemary’s Vineyard & Winery many times on our road trips to the Hill Country of Texas and said as many times to each other that we should stop there some day. Today was that day…
We were on a mission to visit a brand-spanking-new winery in the 290 / Fredericksburg area, but were notified that they would be out of pocket all day, so we had the option to head back home or come up with a new plan. OK, that sounds strange, the word “plan”.
We decided to head towards Fredericksburg anyway and make ourselves available, but to avoid the Austin area and traffic related to SXSW which opened the same day; however, as we approached our normal exit off I-10, I remembered Rosemary’s winery and since we weren’t in any hurry, we took the LaGrange exit and headed north.
Rosemary’s Winery is located on highway 71 south of LaGrange, Texas. Although you can see a few of the vines from the highway, there doesn’t appear to be enough to support a winery production – that’s probably why we didn’t take it seriously before. When we pulled into the parking area, we noticed a rather large building to our right, a small building in front of us, and the tasting room and patio on our left. What really surprised us were all the vines that were well past bud break and into leaf. Most of the Twitter chat we have read recently talks about bud break happening about a week ago.
The winery property “feels” much older than it really is. They have been open six years, but they must have re-purposed buildings that have been on the property for years, or moved older buildings from elsewhere. There’s a very cozy, rustic, and inviting atmosphere at the winery.
We were greeted at the door by Emmett Schulze, who owns and operates the vineyard, winery, and tasting room with his wife. Beatrice. The tasting room / gift shop is rather small with a single bar used for tasting and purchase check-out; however, Emmet told us that the large building we saw on the other side of the parking lot is the new tasting room / gift shop that should handle 100 people at a time. It’s always encouraging to learn that Texas wineries are growing.
Julie asked about the name, “Rosemary’s Vineyard and Winery” since neither owner’s name is Rosemary. Emmet told her that Rosemary was Beatrice’s sister who passed away two years after they planted their first grape vines. They named the vineyard and winery in her honor.
Emmett and Beatrice make and sell a Cab Sauvignon, a Merlot, and a Chardonnay – I assume to please those Texans and tourists who can’t get past those three grapes, but also makes fine Lenoir, Blanc du Bois, and Muscadine wines.
My little rant: I’m almost to the point that I don’t even want to taste a Texas wineries’ Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay. Although I have had some pretty good Texas Cab S wines, if I really want a kick-ass Cab, I’ll buy a California one. For the money, I have yet to taste a Texas Cab that went head to head with a California – for the money. Go ahead and hate me, but I don’t think that Texas can compete with either Chardonnay or Cab S grapes an any but a very local market. I won’t even talk about the Texas wineries that import California bulk Cab or Chardonnay juice and sell it to an unsuspecting Texas public as a Texas wine other than to say, “Bad winery! Bad Winery!”
I really wanted to try Emmett’s Lenoir (a.k.a. Black Spanish) and Muscadine wines: The Lenoir because I have yet to taste a Lenoir from anywhere that I found palatable; they all seem to have this “rosé funk tartness” that hits me a little like battery acid. I’ve been told that if the Lenoir is grown in East Texas, it’s very different than those grown in the Hill Country or West Texas, and Val Verde has the best ever. I wanted to try the Muscadine because I have never tastes a Muscadine wine; in fact, we were told at an Oklahoma winery last year that the Muscadine grape doesn’t have enough sugar in it to make a decent wine.
Emmett produces two Lenoir wines, an off-dry and a dry. I tried the off-dry first, not realizing he had a dry version until later, and it was actually pretty good; good enough for me to buy a bottle to try later. I’d like to see if it opens up more. Even though it still had a little tartness, it had some body to it. The same goes for the dry Lenoir . I want to try it later.
The Muscadine wine is what I would call a semi-sweet wine with about 12% alcohol. I think of sweet wines as being more dessert-style wines, whereas if it strikes me as a wine I would love to drink on a hot Texas day, it’s usually not Kool Aid sweet. It’s a taker, too.
Rosemary’s Vineyard produces a good Blanc du Bois, but they aren’t as stand-out as the Lenoir and Muscadine.
We have a caveat that we are checking into: Although we were told that all the grapes for Rosemary’s Vineyard’s wines were grown in Texas, all of the labels have a “For Sale in Texas Only” exception. This is most often used by wineries so they don’t have to list the origins of the grapes in their wine; however, it’s not always the case. I sent an email asking them for clarification and will post their response.