Thursday, December 17, 2009

Bella Vista Cellars

After we went to Sister Creek Vineyards , I said I'd post a Texas winery visit every month.  That was the end of August.  Oops.  With as many wineries as bless the Texas Hill Country, there's no excuse for my lapse.  Guess I'll have to do a lot of drinking to catch up.
Bella Vista Cellars sits on an arid hillside outside of Wimberley, a quaint little town not far from Austin.  Less than a hundred years ago, the hills outside of Wimberley were considered land fit for nothing but goats, a rancher's way of saying good for nothing.

Now the hills are home to much more.  Farms and grapevines and B&B's and the first olive orchard in Texas to harvest a commercial crop.  Before we visited, we didn't know that Bella Vista Ranch, home of Bella Vista Cellars, is most widely known as the home of First Texas Olive Oil Company.

Jack Dougherty, Buena Vista's charistmatic founder, believes in the model of small Mediterranean family farms.  He grows cattle and olives and grapes.  Limes for his personal margaritas.  Small production agriculture, lots of hand-holding.  We took the one-hour olive tour and did the olive oil tasting.  Fascinating, and a later post.
The winery tasting room shares space with olive oil tasting in a building behind Jack's home.  He poured four current releases for us.  The wines were all made with Hill Country grapes, some purchased, some from Bella Vista Ranch.  The wines are available at the ranch or from Bella Vista's online store.

2007 Lyte Whyte, a Chenin Blanc with a small percentage Muscat Canelli.  Grassy nose but citrusy in the mouth, crisp and refreshing.  $12.95.

2007 Texas Sunset,  A blend of 60% Sangiovese, 20% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc.  The winery describes it as a light, semi-sweet red with fruity flavors.  Perhaps the bottle from which we tasted had been open too long.  My notes say, "old tasting, simple". $10.95.

2006 Syrah,  Aged in oak.  Lovely.  Grapey nose with underlying toast and vanilla.  Nice berry flavor and earthy undertones.  My favorite of the tasting.  $19.95.

2006 Cabernet Sauvignon,  Cherry nose.  In the mouth, balanced fruit and acidity but a little thin on the mouth-feel.  Lingering dark-fruit finish with soft tannins. $26.96.

Visitors may taste Thursday-Saturday 10:00am - 5:00pm, Sunday 12:00pm - 4:00pm.

Bella Vista is worth a visit.  Try the wines, learn about olives, pet the winery cats.  Take home some life in a bottle.


  1. I just love red wine. The Texas Sunset combination sounds wonderful!

    Sending love,


  2. Life in a bottle - very catchy.

    I love the old Spanish saying: "Wine kills...slowly. I am not in a hurry!". That about sums up my approach.

  3. Poor thing. You'll "have to do a lot of drinking to catch up." Well, it's a dirty job, but somebody's got to do it. Cheers!

  4. I envy your wine knowledge
    But as I read, and sip my goblet of red, I know the life in a bottle sentiment.

    And thanks for your kind comments. I am hard on myself, but can't help it. But I also just wish I could find humour or indifference where I always feel more stressed. Getting there. Just had a quick trip to Old Montreal for a Christmas work party. It was a well needed outing, and an affirmation of some things. Very peaceful in all the rush.


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