This was the first time Lubbock had been on my venue; I’d been quite a bit north of the city – to Palo Duro Canyon - years ago. The city that greeted me appeared pleasant, charming, and clean. Lubbock is in the heart of the largest contiguous cotton growing region in the world; and, is considered the home of rock and roll – Buddy Holly was born here. I’m glad my friend was with me – she navigated the streets (she grew up in a small town just south west of Lubbock.) The condo was near Texas Tech University and within walking distance of a lovely older area with several restaurants. It was a great place to call home for a couple of days. After arrival, we mapped out our plans. One of the reasons for my friend’s invitation was to acquaint me with the wine industry in that area – the Texas High Plains AVA (American Viticultural Area) is one of eight in the state and has the highest concentration of grape growers in Texas. I was eager to get started. Although there are many vineyards in the AVA, only a few wineries existed at that time. We visited one the day of our arrival and three the following day.
Thus, to my delight we headed to our first tasting experience locating McPherson Cellars in the city. McPherson Cellars was created to honor one of the pioneers in the Texas wine industry – Dr. Clinton McPherson. The McPherson family has long been in the winemaking business in this area; their current facility is in a renovated Coca-Cola building in the Depot Entertainment area. At the time we visited, there was still quite a bit of work to be done on the renovation. But, the wines were excellent, and the staff friendly and enlightening. I especially liked their Sangiovese and rosé wines – in summer, the style of a fresh cool, dry rosé is most pleasant. Ever since then, I have been purchasing these wines and their quality has not changed. Their source vineyards are from Texas. We finished the day at a restaurant near the condo.
The next day we had a leisure start and gradually began our wine tasting journey. Let me add that my friend doesn’t imbibe; she delights in accompanying me and enjoys being an additional “nose” to my tasting palate. She is a great sport! The first wineries of the day were south of the city. Driving that direction and a little west, the first one on the list stood behind an imposing gated entry to a mission style building encompassing a lovely modern facility – Cap Rock Winery. Made in the Italian fashion, their wines, at that time, had won many awards. And, they were quite good utilizing the endeavors of the grape growers in the region with a pleasant result. I enjoyed visiting with the winery dog, a lovely Weimaraner. Cap Rock has undergone several ownership changes in the last several years – it has been a long time since I’ve tasted any of their wines.
After Cap Rock, we visited Llano Estacado. Llano was established in 1976 and is one of the largest producers of wine in the state. Their wine menu is extensive – from reserve, to every day, from sweet to dry, from white to red – all Texas grapes. One could find anything to please the palate. One of the first times I had tasted a Viognier (a white,) was here – and I was most impressed – it was rich, full bodied with hints of citrus and honey. They were busy that day, their tastings were complimentary. One more was on the schedule. So, we drove through Lubbock, then a short way north on Hwy. 84, exited and headed east on country roads. In the middle of almost nowhere, we finally arrived at Pheasant Ridge Winery – named for the wild pheasants that roam the property. At the time, the winery was still in the Gipson family having been established in 1979. Wines made in the French tradition, their Cabernet Sauvignon was wonderful. Since that visit, the winery has sold to another industrious grape grower – and the intentions are to continue in the wine making tradition. This winery sits on land with 50 acres of vines. Upon finishing this lovely visit, we returned to Lubbock. Before we headed back to the condo, we stopped off at a bistro in the entertainment area called LaDiosa Cellars – tapas were on the menu.
On the way back to the D/FW area, we stopped for a short visit with my friend’s sister at her vacation place near Lake Brownwood. After we left the lake area, we managed to find a small winery in Rising Star. They hadn’t been in business too long – they had started as grape growers supplying other wineries – and, they didn’t stay in the wine making business very long either, it is now closed. Although it was a bit of a long drive during summer days, we made it back to the D/FW area safe and sound. A good trip!