Last Friday I had the opportunity to tour Llano Estacado Winery, just outside of Lubbock. I was familiar with the Llano (pronouced ‘lawn-o’ in West Texas and ‘yawn-o’ in South Texas) brand, but had never experienced the winemaking process here in Lubbock. In fact, this was my first wine tour. I have visited more than a few wineries in the Fredericksburg, Texas, area, but these stops were limited to the tasting room, which I’m definitely not complaining about.
Note: We arrived at 2 p.m. for our tour, and we did leave before dark. This photo was taken at a previous philanthropy event.
Llano’s winemaker, Chris, was gracious enough to take time out of his busy day to talk with us. How’s that for a job title? He sure looked like he knew what he was doing. He was carrying around a huge pair of clippers in his back-pocket, and had a glass receptacle that magically transferred wine from barrels into my wine glass.
Chris explained the difference in fermenting and aging wine in barrels and stainless steel tanks.
The barrels hold about 50 gallons of wine, while the steel tanks shown above hold about 6,000 gallons…big difference.
Even though the containers are different in material, they both control the amount of oxygen that gets to the wine. Oxygen seeps in through the pores in the wood very slowly, and in the stainless containers, oxygen is pumped in at a very low rate, which is always monitored. For the record, Chris told us that a lot of oxygen is bad for wine, but trace amounts are great. A little of a bad thing is usually good…right?
I learned a lot of other things on the tour, like how the grapes are harvested. I will be making a return trip to the winery in August/September for their Harvest Festival. Hopefully grape stomping will be available – bucket list item right there.
After the highly informational tour, we stopped by the tasting room to sample various wines.
My love for wine has matured in the past few years. I started out drinking blush wines – so sweet and fruity. Today my favorite wine is Pinot Noir, which usually is somewhere in the perfect middle of too sweet and too dry. This is a sad thing, though, because Texas isn’t the best climate to grow Pinot Noir grapes. Chris had a solution for me – the Llano Signature Mélange is the happiness to my sadness! This red wine is smooth and not too deep, and the oaky, berry flavor comes through very clear.
From the Llano Web site – their description trumps mine:
Signature Mélange is a blend of 5 Rhone varieties; Carignane, Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, and Viognier. Aromatically this is a delicate wine, floral and perfumed with hints of dried cherry fruits and plums. In the mouth it is silky smooth with hints of vanilla-coffee bean and cocoa flavors complimented by a medium tannin structure. It is a lighter, fruity, yet dry red wine that would be perfect paired with a pork tenderloin.
I was amazed that out of all the wines I tried, I actually liked them all! Llano has my seal of approval.
Nick and I, trying to look like sophisticated wine drinkers.
So, how does wine, or alcohol, for that matter, fit into my bill of health.
Everything in moderation – wine, beer, liquor, cookies, cake and leafy greens. No this is not my diet, but I do enjoy all of the above in moderation.
What is your adult beverage of choice?
Not to seem like a lush, but I love a good Chilton – vodka, fresh-squeezed lemon juice and soda water with salt on the rim. For any Lubbock readers, Chimy’s makes the best in town!