HO-liday Gifties: A Hill Country Varietal

When they say 'Go Local,' think Tempernillo

HO-liday Gifties: A Hill Country Varietal

Why not make the gift giving part of the gift exchange an adventure? Drive out to the Hill Country to grab some bottles of this rare, local treat.

Pedernales Cellars released its new Texas Hill Country Tempranillo last weekend ($39.99 a bottle). Hello, fans of Texas varietals! This vintage is limited-edition, robust with the burst of Spanish grapes, this particulate batch grown exclusively in the Hill Country.

"Texas is one of the more demanding wine-growing climates," said wine guy and Pedernales Cellars owner David Kuhlken, whose folks started the biz back in 1990. They source a lot of their grapes from other regions of Texas and in light of this year's drought, an exclusively Hill Country-grown batch seems all the more impressive. This year saw, "an early harvest, with less fruit on the plants. It produced a good quality, but it's not sustainable," said Kuhlken.

Last month, I got to tour their underground cellars, cut right out of the side of a hill in scenic Stonewall. At that time, there were about 250 barrels of their many varieties in the works. The Texas Hill Country Temp is a limited run of just over 60 cases. As of early this week, they were down to 10 cases.

The tour came with a tasting, and the entire reason I am posting this on the blog is that their Tempernillos blew me away. Hand's down, my purple-lipped favorite among an evening's wine tasting of great contenders. Granted, I am no oeneologist, I don't even qualify as a lush, but the HC Temp had me coming back for more.

(Heh. At the tasting, I felt a little self-conscious noting a fellow taster's deft handling of the swirl, sniff, swish routine, but she ended up puking in the limo on the ride home – much to the chagrin of our very affable, gentlemanly, and accommodating driver Donald from Bluebonnet Limos and… well, all the rest of us stuck in the enclosed space for the rest of the ride home – so I'm glad I didn't follow her lead.)

Pedernales also carries a lovely Texas Tempranillo (at $29.99 a bottle), made with the Spanish grapes grown in a few regions across our state. Both of the Temps stood out, to me. The Hill Country variety, this special run, however, had an especially smooth character with fruity notes, not at all cloying nor too sweet. And let me tell you, take a bottle of this sweet prize as a holiday house warmer and you will not only turn your friends and loved ones on to a delightful bit of grog, but to a true Texas treasure, to boot.

And if you want your gift to be felt all year long, Pedernales also offers a Wine Club. The winery is located at 2916 Upper Albert Road in Stonewall, just 1.5 miles off Highway 290 at RR 1623, and is open Saturday, 10am-6pm and Sunday, noon-6 pm.

While you're out there, make an evening or weekend of it, and explore the region's Holiday Light Trail!

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