The Austin Chronicle

Day Trips

By Gerald E. McLeod, April 23, 2010, Columns

Texas South Wind Vineyard & Winery is starting from the rootstock up. Opened in December 2009, the winery between Goliad and Refugio is already producing some very interesting handcrafted wines.

Everything is done in 50-gallon batches, said Regina Staggs. She and her husband, David, and their two children moved several years ago to the Coastal Plains from the Lubbock area. They tried raising cattle and horses, but on the mesquite-covered prairie, the feed costs cut into the profits.

One thing they found that grows well in the sandy-loam soil is grapes. In this area of hot, humid summers, the couple had to find a grape that was resistant to diseases associated with the dampness and spread by insects.

The Staggs have planted 146 Black Spanish, or Lenoir, grapevines and hope to have their first harvest this year. "We could have just had the vineyard," Regina said. "But where is the fun in that?"

David Staggs has been experimenting with winemaking for years. By making each vintage in small batches, he's able to better control every step of the process. The handmade care is evident in each of his wines. The problem is that when he hits on a really great batch, like his current Cabernet Sauvignon, there is only a limited quantity for sale.

Texas South Wind is doing some very remarkable things with fruit wines. Before you decide you don't like fruit wines, you need to try the Staggs' offerings. Somehow they have managed to maintain a good viscosity in their fruit wines without making them overly sweet or fruity flavored.

The Staggs' wines make a wonderful cold treat on a hot summer day. For instance, the peach wine is very lightly flavored, and the tangerine wine has a hint of vanilla flavoring. The orange wine is semidry and would make a nice chilled aperitif. The cherry wine is made from the same cherries used in pies, and it has a tartness that goes well with chocolate.

Of the fruit wines, Regina said the fig wine is the most difficult to make. It has a unique flavor, kin to a liqueur but not as strong. All of the fruit is grown in Texas except the cherries. None of their wines is aged in oak barrels, so the flavors of the fruit and grapes are unadulterated. Later this year, watch for an estate-grown blackberry and a Texas-grown tempranillo wine.

Texas South Wind Vineyard & Winery is about 20 miles south of Goliad on U.S. 77 Alt./U.S. 183, at 16375 Hwy. 183 S., Refugio. The winery is in a small building similar to a Quonset hut, at the end of a dirt driveway. The tasting room is reminiscent of French wine caves with rock walls, bistro-style tables and chairs, and a bar at which to sample the wines. The winery is open Monday through Saturday from 11am to 7pm. For more information, call 361/526-4662.

981st in a series. Day Trips, Vol. 2, a book of "Day Trips" 101-200, is available for $8.95, plus $3.05 for shipping, handling, and tax. Mail to: Day Trips, PO Box 33284, South Austin, TX 78704.

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