Friday, May 29, 2009

Comfort Cellars

Most folks don't think of wine when they think of the Texas Hill Country. It's known more for hills, rivers and eccentric occupants. But there are 24+ wineries in the region, with a range of styles and prices. A few produce fine wines, Sister Creek and Becker come to mind, and most make at least one sweet white or an off-dry red that will stand up to a spicy BBQ, the national food of Texas.

But Comfort Cellars is the only one that makes Jalapeno Wine.

The idea of a wine made from hot peppers was an automatic draw for us. My mother says that my first word was 'idiosyncrasy'. She says it was my father's doing. I don't know if that's actually true but I do know that the unique pulls me like a magnet.

Comfort Cellars is a one-superwoman vineyard and winery in Comfort, Texas. And winemaker Cathie Wheeler is happy to pour visitors a tot of her fermented jalapeno juice. Against expectations, it's a lovely ripe-gold colored wine. With a pungent nose. Most folks take only a tiny sip. The stuff is hot...and good. There's a bit of underlying fruitiness after you get through the burn.

Then Cathie adds a cup of clamato juice to your glass. With a slice of cucumber and a stick of celery, it's a Hill Country Hottie. Ooohbaby that's good. Cathie says a lot of folks use jalapeno wine in cooking--adding it to marinades and sauces. Most Texans believe that a little heat improves almost anything.

Cathie also makes an Orange Chardonnay wine (a combo of Chardonnay and fermented naval orange juice) and other exotic wines, sweet wines and a Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Outside of the Jalapeno Wine, I thought the Chenin Blanc would pair well with food--dry and crisp with a note of pear. I wasn't taken with the rest of the line. But there is enough diversity that most folks find something they like. As my grandmother used to say, "Everyone to their own taste, said the old lady who kissed the cow."

The tasting room is on SR 27 (AKA Front Street). There is parking by the tasting room but if you go a little way up the road, there's a sign to the Historic District. Turn there and then park on High Street. When you're ready for a break from historic buildings and antiques, you're just a short walk under the trees to the tasting room's back door.

And you'll know you're in the Texas Hill Country.


  1. The "Hill Country Hottie" sounds great! I tried a sip of pepper vodka once (at the insistence of my late friend, Gracie) and was amazed how one sip sort of called for another.

  2. Sounds like an idea whose time has come. I'll have to try to get my hands on a bottle next time I'm in Central Texas.


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