Dear Austin Winery,
I am a self proclaimed beer snob but have next to no idea when it comes to wine. Ok there’s red and white of course, and I know that a Zinfandel is stronger (more full bodied?) than a Pinot Noir with Merlot somewhere in between. That’s about the extent of my wine knowledge.
Aside from the advantages it would give me as a waiter at a fine-dining restaurant, I want to gain an understanding and appreciation of wine for my own satisfaction. Beer was easy to get into; it seems so accessible in comparison. The nicest beer at the store might cost $20, when “nice” bottles of wine barely start at that price. Breweries are casual places filled with jolly bearded dudes while the only vineyard I’ve been to was mostly about looking good while drinking the wine. Beer feels inclusive, wine feels exclusive. Basically, I’m a little bit intimidated by the wine world.
Part of the problem is that I don’t know where to begin. The wine aisle a mysterious place. I want to taste the black cherries and currant but I don’t even know what currant is (Google tells me it’s basically a cherry). Sometimes I think my palate isn’t refined enough and that makes me sad. Maybe I’m not cut out for wine.
So as a young wine entrepreneurs maybe you can give me (and other like me, surely I’m not alone) hope that I too can appreciate wine. Maybe you can help re-brand wine to be more approachable for those of us who can’t or won’t spend $100+ on a bottle. Teach us, guide us, and together we will break down the barriers of wine exclusivity and all enjoy.
PS: What grape grows best in Texas? Go!
Thanks for the letter, Hayden.
Many of the concerns you raised about the snobby side of wine culture, and general inaccessibility are valid. As curious young wine drinkers, we experienced the same barriers to entry as you: wine was expensive, we knew little, and it took a while for us to confidently differentiate what we were drinking. We wanted to break down these walls, and founded our winery on a few guiding principles – produce high quality, regionally expressive, snob-free wine.
That being said, understanding and appreciating wine has a lot to do with understanding geography and climate. Knowing what kind of wines come from cool, moist places versus dry and hot is a big start. Therein lies the answer to your “what grapes grow best in TX” question: Earthy, Mediterranean varietals from Spain, Italy, Portugal like Tempranillo, Sangiovese, and Tenat (respectively).
In regards to wine analysis and all the flowery words you hear spouting out of a Somm’s mouth: don’t be scared. Use reference points that makes sense to you – if it tastes more jolly rancher than raspberry, say that. You always reserve the right to disagree. You know more than you think: start with color (red/white/rose’) then go oak/unoak, fruit, spice, finish.
At our heart, we want to make wine for the people of Austin, which we see is very much like New Orleans: centered around food culture, a sense of community, and snob-free (or al least we used to be). The model we employ (sourcing fruit from all over the country) allows us to achieve a very broad spectrum of flavors and aromas and gives us the freedom to try and make a style of wine for every kind of wine drinker. Even better than that we want to help you establish a frame of reference for expressing why that wine spoke to you and recommend wines (ours or other producers) who may be in a similar style. All of our wines are between $15-$50, so if you’re a college kid trying to make date night with a pizza, you can do it, this isn’t exclusively for the Westlake Doctor, but we think he/she will like it too.