One the Road Again – William Chris Vineyards

“I WANNA ROAD TRIP. Haven’t visited a winery in FOR-EV-ER, and “3 MORE WEEKS” just seems so far away.

Wanna pack the gear, feed the ducks, drive through Starbuckies for breakfast, and find a road we haven’t worn out.

I love Pearland, but if I drive around it or south/southeast Houston waiting for “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me” another week, I will go nucking futs.

So there.”

I set that as my Facebook status last Friday…

It has been so long since we picked a winery (or not) and just hit the road that I was starting to go stir crazy. Frankly I don’t know how Julie puts up with me.

Anyway, Mandy (daughter) was planning to spend the day with us and had never experienced a winery-targeted day trip with Julie and me; she had never even visited a winery before Saturday. She is very aware of her dad’s wanderlust, though. The kids and I used to hop in the van on a Saturday or Sunday morning and go wherever we wanted. Sometimes we would go a few miles, pick a direction, then go that way for a while. Now Julie gets to deal with that.

Our original plan (yes, we actually hatched a plan) was to drive to Galveston, head up Bolivar, then cut over to I-10 and head west to Baytown to invade a “local” winery we haven’t visited before. That’s a good half-day trip at least, so we packed up the daughter, the “go” bag, and our tech and hit the road to Starbuck’s. First things first, you know.

While sitting in line for our morning caffeine fix, Julie pulled her iPad out to check on that latest Texas wine news and noticed that the Highway 290 – Fredericksburg wine trail was hosting a “Port Pairing” weekend – and that was enough for me. It was drizzling and dreary in Pearland and I didn’t expect it to get any better closer to the Gulf, so any good reason to head to Fredericksburg was all I needed and I was quite eager to “get the heck outta Dodge”.

There are a several wineries around Fredericksburg that was haven’t visited yet, and we both agreed that our first stop should be William Chris Vineyards – we have heard very good reviews of the wines and winemakers from friends and other winemakers we have visited with. Our choice for second winery was primarily driven by the dessert pairing – the bourbon-orange pecan pie offered at Chisholm Trail sounded too good to pass up.

It took a little over four hours to drive from Pearland to Johnson City, but that’s nothing for our day trips. It took us longer to get out of Pearland than normal, so we didn’t arrive at William Chris until nearly 2 pm. We may have time to visit our other targeted winery if all goes well.

Being an event weekend, I really didn’t expect to spend any time with the owners and winemakers, Bill Blackmon and Chris Brundrett, so we paid for our tastings, received our glasses (really nice glasses), and were escorted to the Tasting room, a three or four room building, converted from the original property owners’ house.  It was busy but not “packed”, so we were able to join a table where the guide was completing a tasting for a couple.

William Chris charges $10 per tasting which includes a choice of seven wines excluding one reserved for “Hye Society” (their wine club) members. The tasting menu listed nine wines in total, and with one reserved for members only, all we had to do was select the wine we *didn’t* want to taste. I excluded the dry Blanc du Bois. Julie and Mandy started with the Blanc.

As busy as they were, the tasting guide was gracious and did not discourage me from doing thorough tasting and note-taking on my iPad. I really appreciated this consideration because I want to treat the wines with respect by getting as many details recorded as I can before moving on to the next bottle.

When we finished our tasting, we browsed the tasting room and shop for a bit before heading outside for the Port ‘ N Pairing. While we were browsing, one of the workers asked if we were writers, and when I told him I was a blogger, he told us that he remembered us from the Hill Country Road Show in Richmond. Andy had manned the William Chris Vineyard booth at the road show. Julie remembered him and they talked about the wine they brought to the show that Julie had really enjoyed, a semi-sweet Blanc if I remember correctly.

We hadn’t talked very long before Chris Brundrett joined us – I think he had come in to talk to Andy, but Andy introduced him to Julie, Mandy, and me and told him about our meeting at the road show. Chris was very gracious and spent time telling us about their operation and the wines. He opened a bottle of the 2010 Syrah that had been reserved for wine club members. The grapes for the Syrah were grown by Texas Master Sommelier Guy Stout at his Stout Vineyards, who asked Bill and Chris exclusively to “treat them right” (my paraphrase).

Chris couldn’t spend much time talking to us as, as mentioned, they were busy with the Port ‘N Pairing event, but we assured him that we would be back. Julie reserved a cabin in Fredericksburg for four different weekends in 2012  – my Christmas present. 🙂

Now onto the wines:

2011 Blanc du Bois (dry)

The William Chris Blanc has a strong grapefruit and pear nose. I did get to taste it when we were talking to Chris and remember exclaiming, “Grapefruit, grapefruit, grapefruit,” when I tested the aroma. Julie commented that it’s one of the few dry whites that didn’t leave her mouth feeling “dry”. She wants to try pairing it with a fettucini with Alfredo sauce – which is saying a lot since she has never cared for a dry white with any meal.

2010 Merlot

From my notes:
“Clear, lovely red
Full nose, cherry – plum
Wonderfully oaky.
Not a heavy Merlot, classic flavor
Finishes with black cherry, lingering oak, smoky”

I have not really enjoyed any Texas-grown Merlots until today.

2010 Syrah

I didn’t have my iPad ready when Chris opened the Syrah for us, so all i will say is that my daughter who is NOT a dry red drinker really liked it. It’s the only dry red she liked all day.

I think that I was so impressed with the Merlot that I really didn’t give the Syrah a chance. That’s why I bought two bottles to take home.

Cibola Orange Muscat

The Cibola Orange Muscat was the “port” for the Port ‘N Pariring event. Although it isn’t labelled as a port, Bill and Chris created it with the same process. When I asked why they don’t call it “port”, Chris said that by international standards, a port must me made in Portugal. I didn’t know that, but the Wikipedia article on Port wine states the same standard.

What we bought:

  • 2010 Merlot: 4 bottles
  • 2010 Syrah: 2 bottles
  • Cibola Orange Muscat: 2 bottles.

And I just ordered 4 bottles of the Blanc to be shipped in the morning.


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