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