For two reasons I had low expectations going to Messina Hof, but other travelers we had spoken too were so complimentary, I felt it was worth the try. Wine is a subjective, personal thing I know, but my experience with most Texas wines is not too good: I usually find the whites too light or sweet, and the reds too full of calcium-like minerality or earthiness. My prior experience with Messina Hof was that they produced run of the mill sweet wines, but I was pleasantly surprised to learn that is not all.
When we arrived it looked a lot like winery tastings rooms I have seen in Sonoma and Napa, CA, and I saw grape vines right there next to the main building. As we entered, the place was busy on an early Saturday afternoon, and we had too wait a few minutes to get to the tasting bar, but this was fun because I spotted several wine varieties I had not expected, along with quite a few gift items and accessories. They price their wine tasting differently than other wineries, and I feared it would either end up costing a lot, or I would not sample enough to know much about their style after all. It turned out I was wrong. Our Wine Guide, Michael Broussard, was very knowledgeable about wines in general, but also very well trained on Messina Hof wines. He was excited, enthusiastic, and proud to put quite a few samples into my hands and allow my tastes to dictate what I would enjoy. I admit, one or two had that characteristic minerally taste that I feel overpowers the fruit and other wine attributes, but we truly enjoyed the quality and taste of the Primitivo, the Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon (in both Private Reserve and private label "Pauolo" bottlings), and a 2010 Aggie Association Merlot. These are made by grapes from estates and single vineyards up in the Texas high plains, and offered quite an eye opener of enjoyment to me. But, the best was the local estate grown grapes that were used to produce the Port and the Sherry that simply took our breath away. There is a pleasant light sweet flavor on both Port and Sherry that tastes like Amaretto, and went exquisitely with chocolate. Port has never been my favorite both for the sweetness and the often sharp alcohol taste. But I had to take home one bottle of each, they were so good. And, I have to say if it had not been for the patient and thorough description offered by Michael that we may have never gotten that far. My wife struck up a conversation with a lady who was looking for a wedding gift and she also ended up taking four nice bottles with her, too, and we we all joined the Messina Hof Wine Club. I plan to go there and pick up my wines at the next release date, and that is something we cannot too often do with California wines clubs due to travel expense.
Messina Hof also has a wine bar, a restaurant, a bed & breakfast, and a place for weddings or large gatherings. If you have been reluctant like I was, give it a try, you should end up having a great time... and be sure to ask for Michael Broussard, although all the staff we met were fun and friendly.
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