Alamosa Wine Cellars Is For Sale

Warm-weather varietal pioneers are ready to retire

courtesy of Alamosa Wine Cellars

Alamosa Wine Cellars owners Jim and Karen Johnson announced their retirement this week after more than 20 years as leaders in the modern Texas wine industry. The Johnsons planted Texas' first warm weather grape varietals in San Saba county in 1996, making them the farthest north of the Hill Country wineries.

After a career in purchasing for major oil companies as well as NASA, wine lover Jim Johnson plotted a new career course during an oil bust and left Texas to study wine making at the University of California at Davis in the Eighties. Once he'd completed his new degree and spent some time in vineyards in Napa and Sonoma, Johnson headed back to Texas and worked for both the now defunct Slaughter-Leftwich Vineyards and Becker Vineyards.

Jim Johnson helped the Beckers with their first Viognier that garnered so much media attention and the enthusiastic endorsement of the late Robert Mondavi. Johnson was convinced that the quality of Texas wines would appreciate greatly across the board if he and his fellow grape growers would switch over to warm weather varietals such as those grown in the Southern Rhone, Spain, and Italy. The success of Texas wines made Tempranillo, Mourvèdre, Viognier, Roussanne, Marsanne, Tannat, and Graciano bears witness to the fact that Johnson was right about Texas terroir. Theses days, some of the newer wineries are even planting grapes from Portugal.

Karen Johnson explained that they began their transition into retirement in 2013 by selling most of their grape crop to Wedding Oak Winery and letting them farm the Alamosa acres in 2014. "Jim farmed the land again in 2015 and our last crop looks really good," Karen Johnson told us today, adding that the vineyard and the winery are for sale, but the Alamosa name will retire with them.

In preparation for retirement, the Johnsons have a motor home in which they intend to travel, golf clubs with which they'd like to get reacquainted, and grandsons to visit. Their big bucket list item is to spend six weeks in France sometime in the new couple of years. For the immediate future, however, they've got inventory to move and their last schedule of wine tastings to host. They're hoping many of their friends and customers will visit the winery before their final weekend in September. The full schedule is below.

July 11: Sale begins
Aug. 1: Library tasting (tickets required, limited seating)
Aug. 8: Final wine club meeting
Aug. 22: Retirement celebration and sale
Sept. 4-5: Final Weekend

Alamosa Wine Cellars
677 County Road 430, west of Bend, 325/628-3313

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Alamosa Wine Cellars, Jim Johnson, Karen Johnson, Becker Vineyards, Wedding Oak Winery, University of California at Davis

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