Have you ever felt a ‘wine buzz’? If not, you surely need to experience one. I experienced my wine buzz in a serene vineyard near Santa Fe, TX. If you are a first time wine taster, you ought to make a visit to your nearby vineyard. Wine has a very unique and magical quality to it. Like some other beverages, it is aged in wooden casks and benefits from marriage with the wood. It is said by winemakers that no one can exactly craft the final outcome; the wine constantly evolves, makes itself better, and tastes finer during the due course of time. Hence, time is the secret ingredient to any type of wine.
For me and my husband, there was a ‘bottled’ surprise waiting to be discovered from the past few months and finally we decided to open the surprise last weekend. It was a vineyard tour and tasting Groupon coupon from Haak Vineyards, Santa Fe, Texas. Both of us were excited to enjoy a laid back weekend in the vineyard.
Located in Santa Fe, Texas Haak Vineyards is about an hour and 15 minutes drive from Houston. The founder Mr. Raymond Haak’s passion for winemaking took birth when his wife Gladys gifted him a grapevine. Today, they are the producers of some of finest wines in Texas.Raymond and Gladys Haak inspect the vineyards personally and they actively take part in the winemaking process even in their late 70’s. Mr. Haak has his own private selection of wines in the cellar which he refers to as the library. His library of wines has a collection of 1000 plus bottles – a bottle from selected barrels in each season. The Haaks live next door to their business, in the same house they’ve lived for 50 years. Isn’t it amazing?
We reached at 12 pm and checked out their wines, memorabilia, and accessories on offer.
Our tour began at 12.30pm and we were hosted by Robin who was working with Haak Vineyards for the past one year. She was very knowledgable and had very good idea about the wines. She started with the facility tour that included the grape vines, cellar, bottling rooms, wine preservation rooms, etc.
At first we were shown the venue where the elegant vineyard weddings take place. It will definitely be mesmerizing to say ” I do” in the middle of a vineyard! Of course, I was lost in thoughts; visualizing a beautiful wedding in the picturesque landscape .
Then we were taken to the cellar where the wines were sleeping in American Oak barrels. The cellar was 9 feet below the tasting room. We were surprised by the number of bottles that could be made from one barrel; it could produce at least 300 bottles of wine! Something struck our eyes as soon as we entered the cellar – a statue of a quaint, pot-bellied man . We were fascinated by the significance of the statue when our hostess told us its story. The man was the cellar keeper of a famous vineyard in Portugal. Mrs. Haak bought the statue during her travels, and made it the cellar keeper of Haak vineyard’s cellar. It was told by the staff that the cellar keeper is like a guardian angel for all these years.
He is the Guardian Angel of the cellar ! Good luck awaits the one who rubs the tummy, kisses the nose and rubs the head of the Cellar Keeper. I did it, I am awaiting for my fortune! 😛
Then came the much awaited moment. Yes! the wine tasting time. In Haak Vineyards, we get to taste 5 different wines which are hand picked for the day by the staff. I jotted down the vintage, name and ingredients of the wines that we tasted. I have included my tasting notes below – this might differ for others as it is a personal experience and interpretation.
Before I start with it, here is a quick brief about the sort of grape that is grown in Haak Vineyard. Blanc du Bois (pronounced “Bloan Ju Buah”) grapes, a hybrid developed by the University of Florida, is the only varietal Haak grows. Mr. Haak coaxes seven styles of wines from the grape in varying degrees of sweetness and dryness, including a port, a madeira and a blush.
1. Blanc du Bois – Dry wine
Vintage: 2015 . Flavor & Nose : Mix of pineapple, mango and grapefruit. Pairing: Seafood and cheese (as recommended by the hostess)
2. Cabernet Sauvignon – semi dry.
Vintage: 2014. Flavor & Nose: Mix of plum, cocoa, mix of all grapes and sweet tobacco. Pairing: Meat
The king of reds, a big-structured, dark-fruited wine, the best of which become even more elegant with age. I could really feel the heat of the tobacco
3. Amorcito Sweet Blush – Sweet Wine
Vintage : NA. Flavor & Nose : 60% Merlot & 40% Blanc du bois. Pairing : Spicy food like Cajun
I am a lover of sweet wines. Dry wines really is not my taste. I really enjoyed the sweetness of the Amorcito Sweet blush.
4. Madeira , we tried Jacquez 2011 ( red wine) and Madeira ( white wine)
The red wine did have a strong coffee flavor which I totally enjoyed and it can be paired with cookies or butter pecan ice cream. We had it with a kiss of Hersheys.
Madeira is produced in a variety of styles ranging from dry wines which can be consumed on their own as an aperitif, to sweet wines more usually consumed with dessert. We got a chance to taste two varieties of Madeira which were the speciality of Haak Vineyards.
In my wine buzz and excitement, I knocked over a sample glass of the Madeira! Was glad when the hostess refilled my glass. Watching this, the hubby did contemplate knocking his glass deliberately.
It is good to explore stuff outside your interests at times, because that is when you will get new insights about your likes and dislikes. I realized that occasionally I love to sip a glass of wine, while biting into decadent chunks of cheese or chocolate and spend my day.
So Houstonians, if you are looking for a getaway and you are lazy to drive far, check this out. Here is a small vineyard where you can spend your half day worthwhile. You may as well buy the Groupon tickets for Haak Vineyards. Here is the link: