A successful woman farmer admires the fruits of his labor. She stands near grape at sunset

Instead of my usual roundup of what’s going on in Texas Wine Country, I wanted to take the opportunity during March to highlight some fabulous women in Texas wine, particularly Texas women winemakers. To be sure, Texas has a good number of women doing great things in wine, but female winemakers are scarce, but slowly continuing to increase. Yes, this is a little later than I wanted to be, because Paris. But better late than never. At least it’s still March! And I did include a few very cool events in addition to covering our fabulous Texas women winemakers.

Champagne + Eiffel Tower candy = a happy me!

Rae Wilson of Wine for the People

The first kickass lady I’d like to highlight is Rae Wilson, who is the founder and winemaker of Wine for the People. Wine for the People includes wines made under two brands – the really dandy, Dandy Rosé (I know, I know!) and La Valentia. Rae also crafts wines for The Grower Project with Andrew Sides of Lost Draw Cellars. This is such a neat collaboration and I’ve enjoyed the wines on a number of occasions. The duo saw a need to connect growers to the larger market while raising awareness of individual vineyard sites terroir. The Grower Project bottles single-site wines to showcase high-quality, boutique wines made from 100% Texas grapes.

For Rae, the goal of Wine For the People is to connect community, culture and a sense of place from grape to glass. She’s one of the industry’s veterans to be sure and has enjoyed a lengthy tenure in the food & wine industry. From sommelier to winemaker, from Napa Valley to Portugal and so many places in between, she took those varied experiences and laid the foundation for Wine For the People, which she founded in 2010. From the beginning, the goal has been clear — to produce limited production wines with a sense of place utilizing sustainable farming, minimal intervention winemaking, and a dedication to explore true Texas terroir.

Wines I’m Excited About: La Valentía Old Vine Sparkling Chenin Blanc, La Valentía Friesen Family Grenache

Elisa Jones of Elisa Christopher Wines

Elisa Jones is co-owner (with her husband) and winemaker at Elisa Christopher Wines. And what a pathway into wine! Her previous career was as an intelligence officer for the Department of Defense after graduating with a degree in Political Science. Work took her to the Middle East and Africa — sometimes months at a time. When the assignment was over and it was time to head home, she would often stop at vineyards in Europe. This helped plant the seed and partly fueled her passion to become a winemaker. But winemaking is also in her blood as her dad owns a small Blanc du Bois vineyard in Snook, Texas, which she actually helped him plant. Not long after, she decided to go school to formally learn to make wine and transition from intelligence officer to winemaker.

Today, she and husband Cristopher (hence the name) are the force behind Elisa Christopher Wines. Chris actually has a background in landscape architecture, which was certainly handy when it came time to plant their estate vineyard. Elisa and Chris were actually childhood friends and were reunited later in life. The winery’s beginning started with John Rivenburgh’s Kerrville Hills incubator program, which I’ve written about here at the Corkscrew Concierge as well as for the Vintner Project. I love that such a winery came from the program.

Wine I’m Excited About: Methode Champenoise Sparkling Trebbiano. As a ‘bubble head,’ I was thrilled when I saw that Elisa’s desire to level up Texas’ sparkling wine game took a giant step forward. The winery now features a full-scale, traditional method sparkling wine production with all of the bells and whistles including state of the art riddling and disgorging equipment. And yes, these are 100% Texas wines! 

Janet Miertschin of Portree Cellars

Janet Miertschin is the co-owner (with husband Mark) and winemaker at Portree Cellars. This is another lady that completely reinvented herself. Her prior career saw her running the polypropylene business of an oil and gas company in Houston. Boy can I relate to this! I actually support my company’s polypropylene business from a tax perspective, so I understand a little of what they do. I just love stories of people completely doing a 180 and heading in another direction.

Before becoming a winemaker, Janet lived in a number of places that gave her proximity to notable wine regions. It was during these experiences enjoying the food and wine culture of various regions, that her appreciation of wine continued to deepen. It also gave her an affinity for pairing food with wine and developing a love of cooking. When she decided to leave corporate life (your girl here has a date on the calendar y’all!) and get her winemaker certificate, the creation of a winery wasn’t far behind. Like Elisa Christoper, Portree Cellars is a product of the Kerrville Hills incubator program. Ever multi-faceted, when Janet isn’t in the cellar, she enjoys painting. Apparently, the artist’s gene runs in the family as both her mother and daughter are talented artists. Like wine, art is another outlet for Janet to express her creativity. Love it!

Wines I’m Excited About: The Fiano from Pepper Jack Vineyards in the Texas High Plains and the Semillon from Lahey Vineyards. I mean how often do you see these in Texas?!

A couple of other Texas women winemakers that I adore are Jackie van Sant Downes of Driftwood Estate Winery, which I’ve written about here as well as Cheramie Law of Cheramie Wines, which I’ve written about here. I also love, love Barbara Lecuona‘s wines of Siboney Cellars, who I got to visit a couple of years ago. She and hubby Miguel are cool as a fan!

What’s Going On – Umm…The Eclipse

The Eclipse 

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that we have a total solar eclipse coming up on April 8. And how lucky that Texas, particularly the Hill Country, will fall in the path of totality. If you miss it this time, you’ll have to wait 20 years to see it again in the United States! There are so many wineries offering fun experiences to enjoy this rare phenomena. I’ve seen estimates that hundreds of thousands of people may descend upon the area. Don’t worry – the Hill Country encompasses a 31,000-square-mile area so there’s room for everyone.

Farmhouse Vineyards

Not only is Farmhouse Vineyards offering a viewing experience, they even have a wine for it. They are offering a really authentic and intimate Eclipse Experience. After seven years of celestial planning, Farmhouse Vineyards is releasing its 2017 ‘The Observer,’ a limited-production wine made with grapes harvested on August 21, 2017, when the last total solar eclipse temporarily bathed the vineyard in darkness. A limited amount of this once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon wine will be released for the Solar Eclipse Viewing Experience at the Farmhouse Vineyards Marketplace in Johnson City. In fact, the wine is your ticket in. To secure 2 VIP tickets, purchase a bottle of The Observer or their 3 Bottle Bundle of Come And See It. And they are making a full weekend of it. All weekend long, you’ll be able to enjoy live music, explore the vibrant marketplace, partake in games for all ages, enjoy exclusive wine releases, shop with local vendors, and more. 

The eclipse festivities begin at 10 a.m. on Monday with mimosas and more.

Secure your tickets here.

Ron Yates Wines

If you know Ron, then you know that the Ron Yates Wines Solar Eclipse Party will be epic! Entry begins at 8am on April 8 allowing attendees plenty of time to get in, park, and set up their area for the day. Guests are encouraged to bring camping chairs and blankets. Ron Yates will have plenty of space for visitors to get comfortable at the venue’s 10+ acres of party land! Plus, Ron Yates wines will be available for purchase, along with a special, vintage wine bar to taste past, present, and future releases. There will food, wine, a game area reserved for horseshoes, bocce ball, corn hole, maybe even axe-throwing, and live music. 

Ticket Options Include:

  • Early Bird General Admission tickets are $125 each. These tickets include breakfast tacos and coffee upon entry, a glass of wine in a commemorative eclipse wine glass, eclipse viewing glasses, and a delicious paella lunch.
  • Early Bird VIP tickets are $250 each. These tickets include a gorgeous breakfast buffet upon entry, followed by a pig roast for lunch, a tented relaxation lounge with furniture, a bottle of wine with a commemorative eclipse wine glass, eclipse viewing glasses, a private bar with access to exclusive wines, and a VIP bathroom trailer.
  • RV Travelers: Ron Yates Wines will have limited two-day RV camping packages for the Early Bird price of $675. The spaces will be available to rent for Boondocking starting on Sunday, April 7 until Tuesday, April 9. The spot rental comes with two GA tickets to the eclipse party. If you’re interested in extra days/tickets or upgrading the event tickets to VIP they can do that too.

Wedding Oak Winery

Join Wedding Oak Winery at any of their three tasting room locations (Burnet, Fredericksburg, and San Saba) for an unforgettable experience during the eclipse. From 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM, Wedding Oak Winery will open its doors for this special event. Guests can enjoy unobstructed views of the eclipse amidst the expansive skies. Each ticket includes a complimentary bottle of Wedding Oak Winery’s Eclipse 2024 Commemorative Wine, Wedding Oak Winery Eclipse Glasses, a Go Vino Stemless Glass, access to prime viewing areas, small food bites, and live entertainment. Don’t miss this chance to witness the eclipse in style at Wedding Oak Winery! Get tickets by location at: https://weddingoakwines.com/shop/events-1.

Arch Ray Resort

Arch Ray Resort will host its two-day Arch Ray Solar Eclipse Festival beginning Sunday, April 7 and heading on into the main event on Monday. They are really doing it up and the live music at their Living Tree Amphitheater includes acts such as the Goo Goo Dolls, Fastball, Switchfoot, Kyle Park, Cory Morrow, Lane Smith and more. This is a VIP festival with limited tickets available to allow an intimate, exceptional experience.

Guests at the Arch Ray Solar Eclipse Fest will enjoy overnight accommodations for RV boondocking and full access to the resort with a winery, brewery, distillery, and farm-to-table restaurant. The spacious grounds offer an ideal location to view the totality of this awesome celestial event. Tickets are $129 – $269 and available here: https://archrayresort.com/eclipse-fest-2024/.

Cheers to our badass Texas women winemakers. And wherever you are, I hope you get a chance to enjoy this rare eclipse. Until next month…

**Cover image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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