Back from our latest trip to the High Plains, and one things for sure, we are picking up the Pace! Catch these highlights fresh from our Syrah Harvest at Lahey Vineyards in the Texas High Plains.
In addition to the vineyard owners who have become essential partners in the creation of our wines, we are working alongside two of our favorite winery owners — Ben Calais of Calais Winery (on US 290 between Hye and Johnson City), and Doug Reed of Hawk’s Shadow Winery (in Dripping Springs). Collaboration is not only a welcome aspect of working in the #txwine industry, it is, to be honest, a business necessity. Small wineries focusing on small-batch, block-levell harvests and single varietal wines often find it advantageous to pool resources on logistics. We do our best to share transportation and trucking costs, delivery dates and coordination, as well as notes on vineyard data and harvest impressions.
And even so, it is still with gratitude that we thank our vineyard partners for working with us — we know we are the new kids on the block, but we will give you our very best efforts to make the best #TxWine possible. Just. You. Wait!
Now that HB4233 died in committee, let me get right to it.
For three years, we’ve pursued the wrong answer to the right question. In the long run, State-level Appellation wines (100% Oregon, 100% California, even 100% France) are not the most sought-after, defining and collectible wines particularly among consumers who buy, cellar, track and even write about fine wine, and true Wine Origin. State AVA wines are priced lower, tracked less by collectors and critics, and are not nearly as defining to the reputation of a wine producing region as other wines can be. State-Appelated wines are less valuable, as a category, than wines designated at AVA, Vineyard, and Estate levels.
Have you heard the news? Siboney Cellars is coming to Wine Road 290 in the Texas Hill Country!
Yesterday, we announced a new partnership and the acquisition of a 52 acre parcel of land ideally suited for a full Texas Hill Country winery, production facility, tasting room and vineyards. The site is beautiful — a classic Hill Country property featuring a limestone plateau, rolling hills, heritage oaks, a fertile field, stepped terraces suitable for vineyard planting, and over 100 feet of elevation changes, rising to a plateau of 1500 feet.
The new home for Siboney Cellars Is the culmination of a long held vision, made possible by a new partnership we are very blessed to have, and a search that criss-crossed the Hill Country. It is ideally situated for our plans:
Location – With frontage directly on Wine Road 290, adjacent to Lewis Wines, the new home for Siboney Cellars is situated between Hye and Johnson City, continuing the development of the eastern corridor of WR290. We look forward to taking our place among the neighboring wineries in the area and participating as a 100% Texas house.
Vineyards – this site holds a promise for true Texas Terroir – a term we believe in when it is applied to an appellation or specific location. With limestone plateaus, north-facing terraces, and a soil structure that may prove favorable for vineyard growth, we are excited about the potential of estate wines.
Views – the limestone plateau rises 100 feet above the entry point on 290, and affords commanding views. We have many plans to share these views with you!
And the new partnership? We are delighted to introduce the Waldrips to the Texas Wine community, and over the next few weeks we will do exactly that. We met Bill and Mary Anne Waldrip at a wine writer’s event hosted at Boot Ranch in 2015 – one of many industry tours and events we have attended together. Mary Anne poured our first wine – the 2017 Coral Rosé, at the Texas Wine Revolution last year. And together, we have unlocked a mutual passion for creating a wonderful winery in the Hill Country. We can’t wait for you to meet them!
Needless to say, Barbara and I are over the moon! We just returned from our first 2019 trip to the High Plains and are excited about the this year’s vintage potential. With our collaboration at Hawk’s Shadow Winery continuing through 2019 and into 2020, the new partnership, and the new location coming to WR290, we can bring our vision into focus, put more quality grapes into Barbara’s capable hands, and put more Siboney wine into your own cellar. And as always, There’s a million things we haven’t done. Just you wait!! ~MRL
On April 16, 2019, the Texas State Legislative Committee charged with consideration of HB4233, the 100% Texas Labeling Bill, convened a public hearing on the matter (and on many other bills of more significant importance) at the State Capitol in Austin. We participated in the hearing, submitting a written testimony outlining our dissenting view as to why this bill is not in the best interest of the Texas Wine Industry.
What is our view of 100% Texas Wine? We spell it out on each label: ‘Every bottle from Siboney Cellars is, and always will be, 100% Texas. Hand crafted and aged with the passion it deserves, and the patience it requires.’
With the advent of a prodigious wildflower season in the Texas Hill Country AVA, we are eager to begin the work ahead for the 2019 Vintage, and introduce a couple of new wines for you, perfect for Spring. But a couple of other flowers have popped up this season in the Texas Legislative session that are also catching our eye. (For our out-of-state friends, the standing joke about the bi-cameral Texas congress is: Texas Legislators meet for 172 days every two years. Perhaps they should meet for just 2 days every 172 years). Here is a rundown on a few of the filed bills:
The first bill, SB313, (there are Senate and House versions of this one) would eliminate the annual 35,000 gallon limit on winery production earmarked for Direct-to-Consumer, whether at the winery or through wine clubs and regular sales operations. This is a positive growth bill for wineries in the state where DTC sales have been on a roll this decade.
Solo – Our Newest Red… – Solo is so good you’ll want it all to yourself. But we won’t blame you if you share!We are excited to introduce our newest Red from the 2017 Vintage. Solo is a single vineyard varietal, from Lahey Vineyards in The High Plains. The grape? Nebbiolo.
Extremely rare in Texas, Nebbiolo is one of the most noble and prestigious grapes in the world. You may know that in the Piedmont, Nebbiolo creates a profound wine, Barolo – extremely long lived, complex and rather rare in the fine wine world. We have only a very few bottles of this Italian Icon in our cellar. But, the way Barolo ages, the color and complexity it shows, the grace it features when served, Barolo is one of the true high points in wine appreciation. Clearly and with profound respect to Pio Cesare, Conterno and all the greats in Piedmont for centuries, it takes much more than Nebbiolo to make great Barolo.
So please do not mistake our humble offering of this noble grape as a precocious attempt to replicate Barolo. I know it goes without saying, but I’d rather you hear that from us directly so there is no mistake!Generally speaking, the grape may not be ideally suited for our challenging growing conditions. Consequently, there are not many vineyards growing Nebbiolo. When we first met Doug and Tom Reed at Hawk’s Shadow, we were surprised and delighted to find they planted a few rows of Nebbiolo in their Estate vineyards in Dripping Springs. Not enough for a separate bottling, Nebbiolo is featured in their flagship Estate blend, HSV.
So when we learned that Lahey Vineyards was working with a young plot, we jumped at the chance to try it and we can say with affection, the result in the glass is certainly encouraging!A unique wine with many special attributes, Solo is a young, early drinking red striking in character. A deep shade of ruby, more Pinot than Cabernet in hue, with pearlescent reflections, elegant in the glass.
On the nose, cherry blossoms, cut strawberries, and Italian herbs. The wine is young, punchy with a savory warmth on the structured, tannic finish. Hold or drink now, but either way, it’s the perfect red for simple roast chicken.Just $32 for the bottle. Give Solo a try. Stop by the tasting room in Dripping Springs. We think you’ll appreciate Nebbiolo as we do!
Last night, we set up a dozen glasses to taste through red wine barrel samples from the 2017 Harvest. While we are close to releasing our first red wine, Travis, we are also working on a range 2017 vintage wines that will be released in 2019-20.
As the growing season for the 2018 Vintage is ramping up, we traveled to the High Plains AVA with Doug Reed of Hawk’s Shadow Winery, and visited with our vineyard partners. A brief report from Siboney Cellars, Miguel Lecuona:
Hill Country– On our way to the High Plains we visited Drew Tallent in Mason. We checked on Drew’s Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo, which we harvested last season and plan to follow up again for 2018. Drew’s site is one of the premiere Hill Country vineyards, a sloping terrain with good drainage on granite and quartzite sandstone. Drew has a long history of growing quality grapes for several wineries we admire, including Becker Vineyards and Lewis Wines. We jumped on the opportunity to secure small parcels from relatively young vines so as to get a good read on what is possible from a Hill Country AVA for two of our long term favorite grapes. The Tempranillo looked to be pretty well balanced for fruit production and vine vigor, while the Cabernet shows a bit more fruit blossoms on the vine (which make for a wonderful aroma!). We will monitor that and assess ways to reduce yield so all the fruit has a better opportunity to ripen fully within the growing season.
High Plains – So far, in the High Plains, 2018 has been quite dry, even by High Plains standards, and our vineyard checks confirmed this, particularly between the rows where cover crops have not rooted, and the soil looks quite thirsty! That said, the first part of the spring growing season are favorable for many vineyard blocks, which came through a cold winter and avoided Spring Frosts. Of course all eyes now look to the skies not just for beneficial rains, but for the potential for towering thunderstorms that bring the ever-present threat of hail. Indeed, as soon as we left the High Plains, we encountered a spectacular storm in San Angelo, and rode the lightning all the way back home. So it is touch and go over the ensuing days!
Narra Vineyards — Our visit with Owner Nikki Narra on May 14-15 confirmed this weather pattern. Happily, vine health and spring blooming look quite nice, progressing on track. While we were there, Nikki and her team were working on nutrient levels, irrigation management, and assessing potential cluster thinning. We discussed the prognosis for 2018 for Viognier, and the potential for two varietals of interest to our expanding program — Sauvignon Blanc, and Tannat. We are encouraged, and know with Nikki we are in strong hands and look forward to visiting her regularly to assess progress
Lahey Vineyards — we truly admire, and to be honest, are somewhat awestruck, by the size and scale of the operation at Lahey Vineyards. With over 600 acres under vine, and managing more than 2 dozen varietals, Doug Fairbanks is one of the busiest in the industry. We are working with a few blocks at Lahey – Syrah, and Bordeaux Red Varietals. Doug also indicated a very dry spring in his vineyard, and is dodging storms while assessing early growth and blooming.
Everything is coming into focus — Barbara’s blending trials are now at hand. Tasting through samples from our 20 barrels resting in the cellars at Hawk’s Shadow — red, white, rosé, and our aforementioned port — the way forward points directly to a Spring Release of our premiere wines. And we can’t wait to share it with you!
Blending trials are fascinating, and give us even more respect for winemakers all over the world. Whether assembling a final blend from 90 lots for an amazing 2015 Bordeaux, or working with a vineyard plot that hung just a little too long, winemakers sweat the details. We approach this task with a plan in hand as we taste, test, and talk about each sample. But the wine in the glass has the final word. And this must be noted: some of these lots are just too beautiful to blend! Like a classroom of students, each lot holds the potential for a delightful future. Some are obvious in their strengths, others require a certain amount of guidance. But all are gifted and talented!
Meanwhile, we are ordering bottles, glasses and have just taken delivery of our corks. Our closure is a 2″ natural cork from Scott Labs. It features our branding on the cylinder and a fire-vintage imprint on both ends. We know you will delight in pulling this cork very soon!