Welcome to the William Chris Vineyards blog, we we will be sharing a piece of our world with you every month. Check back often!
Something big has happened that’s been years in the making. At long last, the Texas wine industry has the opportunity to prescribe clarity in wine labeling for us consumers.
House Bill 1514, the “Truth in Labeling Act,” is a no frills bill. It simply states that 100% of a wine’s volume must come from Texas grown fruit in order to claim Texas as an appellation of origin. As it sits, only 75% of the wine must be made from Texas-grown grapes which is also the minimum by federal standards.
Napa Valley Vintners’ Association says it best, “wine is the ultimate product of origin.” Think about it – California, France, Italy and several other world-renowned wine regions have standards in place that truly define the origin of their wine and the terroir from which it hails. So why shouldn’t Texas?
If passed, HB 1514 will assures consumers that if “Texas” is proudly displayed on the label, they can trust the wine they are purchasing is unquestionable in its authenticity. This bill’s adoption will ensure Texas grape growers’ crops are the cornerstone of a “Texas” wine’s distinction – they add something you can get nowhere else in the world honest, Texas, agriculture.
"If Texas wants to be taken seriously as a wine region, it needs to realize that in wine truth is paramount. To obfuscate or deceive is to disrespect not only the people who drink the wine, but also the people who make it, and the land that produces it. To muddle people’s understanding of a wine’s provenance is to willfully deceive and risks engendering cynicism about Texas wine..." - Jordan Mackay, James Beard award-winning author.
HB1514 also helps Texas to gain international recognition as an authentic wine producing state. According to wine enthusiasts everywhere, this is an area of opportunity for us.
At William Chris, we’ve been fighting for labeling transparency since we opened our doors. While the introduction of this bill is a huge step forward, we need your support to keep the momentum going.
If you are in favor of “truth in labeling” for Texas wine, please sign our petition.
Don’t stop there – congress is meeting now! Contact your representatives in their Austin offices while they are still in session.
This bill will not change the way Texas winemakers elect to blend their wines or source their fruit. It should be business as usual with one minor change, clarity. We believe Texans deserve to know where their wine is coming from and request full disclosure only. Let your congressman know if you feel the same.
A new year has come, but we like to think the same old us is here to stay. Our team may expand, and we may experiment with different ways to push the industry envelope, but our focus remains the same: Texas grown wine. We cannot wait to have you all continue this journey with us in 2017. Here’s a sneak peek at what is in store this year!
Music is important to our team, our brand, and our story. We incorporate that into our tastings, events, and even our winemaking. The music you are listening to while sipping on a glass of wine can change the experience you have with that glass. For our upcoming Spring Concert in March, we are very selective on what music we pick because we know that you will remember the wine you are drinking not only because of the taste, but the experience you had while enjoying it. We have invested in a production crew this year for the concert, knowing this will make the event that much more enjoyable. We have also uploaded our playlists on to Spotify so you can have a little bit of William Chris wherever you are.
Seeking new and innovative ways to produce wine while keeping the integrity of quality and taste, is incredibly important to us here at William Chris. We are excited to announce this year we will release Hye Estate Malbec Rosé that is fermented and aged in concrete. A slow, cool aging process, the utilization of concrete will yield a truer taste of the vineyard, letting the Texas terroir speak for itself. We are the first winery in Texas to start this winemaking process, and are excited to share the results with our biggest supporters.
As a continuation of our obsession with Rosés, three more wines will release this Spring, including our 2016 Pétillant Naturel Rosé. All of our Rosés will make an appearance at our second annual Texas Wine Revolution in April, another event we couldn’t be more thrilled about. Fans can also look forward to our 2015 Blanc du Bois this Spring, and another single-vineyard Tannat from Lahey Vineyards in the High Plains.
We also can’t wait to get back on the road! Last year, we traveled to Chicago for the first time, and this year, we have our sights set on Denver as well as continuing to visit our guests throughout Texas. We thrive off the feedback we get every time we visit a city or region that has yet to experience our wine. Not only are we putting Texas wine on their radar, but we are meeting incredible people who inspire us to get back to the vineyard and put our heart and soul into every bottle.
We can already feel that 2017 is going to be our best year yet. We hope to continuously find new ways to improve our wines and processes, keep our staff happy and healthy, and toast wine with each and every one of you!
Another year has come and gone at the vineyard. We are taking this time to reflect on 2016, and we can’t help but think back to all the incredible events we were able to enjoy with you all. A few of our favorites were the Black-Eyed Pea Cookoff, our Spring Concert, the very first Texas Wine Revolution, and heading north to Chicago to be with fans who traveled afar. These events were not only a good time, but they led us to meeting some of the most fantastic individuals we have come across in our career. Because of our loyal following, we were able to continue to push the envelope on Texas wine standards, grow our William Chris family and best of all, make incredible wine. Grab a glass (or bottle) of your favorite William Chris wine from this year, and read about our staff’s favorite memories from 2016!
Chris, could not pick just one accomplishment of 2016. What can we say - it’s been a great year for us.
“First and foremost, my favorite accomplishment this year has been looking at how many families Texas-Grown Wine supports. The 45 families at William Chris, plus all of our growers and their families. There is such a web of people in the wine community that we touch, not just in Texas, but the 28 different states we ship to and China. It is truly remarkable to think about. We’ve had an incredible time putting our eyes on other cities and being on the road more this year to share the William Chris story. Seeing our fans in Chicago and how far they traveled just to dine with us, talking to people in the Sierra Foothills in California and having them tell me how much they love our wine – it’s surreal.
I have also never felt better about our team. We have been climbing this mountain for six or seven years, and even though we are still climbing it daily, I get to pause to spend a little more time with family and reflect on what brought us here. It’s all because of our dependable team, and I am looking forward to see where they will bring us in 2017.”
Chris’ favorite WC wine of 2016: 2013 La Pradera Petit Verdot
Rachael, our wine club manager who we can’t live without, loved being able to see fans from all over the country join them in Chicago. “I think Chicago was the best event of the year. I thought it was so cool that people drove from so many faraway places. Some people that we met live in states that we don't even ship to. They came to Texas to visit us a couple of times, and then drove seven hours for one night to enjoy a dinner with us and chat Texas wine. I think that is so amazing and truly shows how powerful our story is, and how much people believe in real Texas Grown Wines.”
Rachael’s favorite WC wine of 2016: 2014 Hye Estate Petit Verdot
Kate, who handles our outside sales and events, joined our team this year and we wouldn’t have it any other way. “I joined the William Chris family in April of this year. After hitting the ground running, we were able to solidify new accounts in Dallas and Houston like Stampede 66 and Underbelly, who we immensely enjoy working with. My favorite accomplishment of 2016 was to sponsor and participate in the Texas Wine Revolution on July 10.”
Kate’s favorite WC wine of 2016: That’s like picking a favorite child for Kate, but she settled on the 2015 Pétillant Naturel Rosé.
Anthony, our director of sales & operation, pretty much kept us in line this year (someone has to do it). “I would say the best part of 2016 for William Chris was the rollout and successful growth of the Barrel Tasting program. We are always looking for ways to enhance the guest experience and this was a huge step in that process. We have progressed from one tasting a week on Saturday, to offering them Thursday through Sunday and by special appointment. It is truly exceptional to see and interact with people, and share what we get to do every day. To show people the winemaking process and give them a sneak peak of what is to come has truly built many long term fans. We can't wait to continue to find these new experiences and share them with our guests in the new year.”
Anthony couldn’t pick just one favorite WC wine of 2016 but loved: 2015 Pétillant Naturel Rosé & 2014 Lost Draw Mourvèdre
Check out the video for more team member highlights of 2016 from Bill, Henry and more!
We can’t thank our fans enough for another wonderful year. We truly would not be able to do it without you all, and we are looking forward to what 2017 brings us! Want to celebrate the new year with us? Join us on New Year's Day for our annual Black-Eyed Pea Cookoff! It's one of our favorite events of the season, and of course, the wine will be flowing.
When it comes to winemaking, tradition is deeply rooted. Whether it is the type of barrel you use for a certain variety or how you age the wine, there is a history and purpose that dates back hundreds of years. With the upcoming holidays, we are reflecting on tradition - not just in winemaking, but with the people we love most. Because Thanksgiving is a special time here at William Chris, we wanted to share a few of our favorite family recipes with our fans.
Chris, co-founder of William Chris, and his wife Katharine host Thanksgiving right here in Hill Country with family and friends. They have a smaller gathering with 10-12 loved ones at their home. Staples on their menu include seasonal veggies, a smoked turkey, quail and a very special sweet potato casserole from his mother-in-law’s recipe collection. Check out the recipe below!
Sweet Potato Casserole
3 cups mashed sweet potatoes, peeled, boiled and mashed with a fork
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup butter
1/3 cup milk
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup chopped nuts
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup butter
Add ingredients to sweet potatoes and mix well. Put in a greased casserole dish. Mix topping and crumble on top of casserole. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-35 minutes.
Naturally, lots of wine is flowing at the Brundrett household, and he loves to pair our Cinsault Rosé with his mother-in-law’s sweet potato casserole.
Rachael, Wine Club Manager at William Chris, and her husband PJ celebrate Thanksgiving here in the heart of Texas as well. With her family in Chicago, she brings a bit of home to the table with Mama Pat’s Layered Salad as detailed here:
1 head iceberg lettuce
1 box baby small peas – thawed
2 bunches green onion – chopped
Cauliflower thinly sliced
1 large bottle of Bacos – covered layer, but not thick
Salad seasoning (shilling or McCormick brand)
Parmesan cheese – a good thick layer
Layer in order – cover and let stand overnight.
Rachael prefers light, citrus notes with her salad, so our Blanc du Bois is the perfect pairing!
Josh, our production winemaker, enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter over the holidays. He brings tradition to the table by using one of his grandmother’s old recipes, Sweet Corn Bread Pudding:
1/2 onion, diced fine
1-ounce unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon rosemary
1 (15-ounce) can creamed style sweet corn
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal, whole grain, stone ground
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Ground black pepper
2 cups cubed French bread
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Sweat onions with butter and herbs in an oven safe skillet until translucent. Combine corn, cream, eggs, baking powder, cornmeal, Parmesan, salt, and pepper in a large mixing bowl. Add cubed bread and fold to combine. Pour batter into skillet, right on top of the onion mixture. Bake 50 minutes, or until set. Cool slightly before serving.
The richly textured core of our Vermentino complements the sweetness and texture of the bread pudding.
It’s our sincere pleasure to share a few of our traditions and hope you get to enjoy a few of your favorites with the ones you love this Thanksgiving! We’d love to see what you are cookin’ up, and of course, what you’re drinking—share with us by tagging #williamchristradition
As we grow as a winery, it makes sense to step outside of our comfortable [Texas] bubble we know and love and share a piece of our world with new fans we might not have otherwise encountered. This means leaving the grounds of William Chris to meet new people, taste new things and experience a new style of hospitality.
We did just that last month when our crew headed north to Chicago for wine dinners at Nico Osteria and The Gage. We’ll admit, although we’ve seen growth in this new market (outside of Texas, it is one of our biggest markets where we ship wine), we didn’t expect the overwhelmingly positive response from everyone we met. From fans that traveled from Michigan, New York and even Houston for the dinners, to the sommeliers and chefs we worked side by side with to pair the meals, to the bartenders we met by chance—everyone not only embraced William Chris wines and our staff, but were absolutely eager to share the good Texas wine word. Having never been exposed to the often sub-par Texas wine that’s been the generalization our region, these new and thirsty fans presented the perfect palate to embrace the wines we’ve worked so hard to grow and bottle. Not only were we blown away by the response, but we were blown away by the hospitality of Chicago. As prideful Texans, we think everything is better here (rightfully so), but our eyes were opened when we set foot in Chi Town. The culinary scene is absolutely world-renowned. The cuisine was incredible (who knew a crudo bar at The Gage would pair so perfectly with our pétillant naturel?), and the service, impeccable. We had trendsetting sommeliers chomping at the bit to sample our wine, which of course is an incredible feeling for our hardworking team. Taking off from Midway, we left feeling more inspired than ever. Our minds filled with new ideas leaving us revitalized, refreshed and inspired.
Once we were back on Texas soil, we headed to the Bacon Bash, an annual bacon cook-off created to raise awareness and funds for children with Type One Diabetes and Niki Warms the Cold (a charity that collects blankets and coats for those in need) in Cranfills Gap, Texas. We were encouraged by our good friend Rebecca Conley over at Brennan Vineyards to enter a team for the cook-off. At first, we thought, this will be a great party—a way to blow
off steam post-harvest and a cause near and dear to our heart as our co-founder Chris spent his childhood working at a camp for those with Juvenile Diabetes. But as we grew closer we thought, hell, let’s take this competition and give our fellow competitors (legit restaurants, breweries and wineries) a run for their money. All of us have a background in food and are pretty damn handy with a grill—we’ve got this.
We put our heads together to come up with a pretty epic homage to bacon—bacon infused waffles with a maple bacon reduction topped with bacon mascarpone, bacon dust, and, wait for it, bacon fried chicken. It was a hit. We had one of the longest lines, and while we thought we were supposed to serve around 150 people, we ended up serving upwards of 600 and meeting even more folks than that. The pétillant naturel wine was flowing, and we were able to talk to a whole slew of folks that had never even heard of William Chris.
Our bacon-ized chicken and waffles ended up awarding us Best in Show, and er, Second Place. We were robbed! But seriously, it was such a fun day. We even had a fan call out during the awards how grieved he was that we only came in second, so we rewarded our bacon comrade a leftover industrial sized box of waffle mix. Needless to say, he was bowled over with joy.
These events, and every time we step outside of our winery, remind us that as our company grows and evolves, we must take note from the world around us to draw inspiration and flex our muscles in a different way. Most importantly, we were struck by our fans and their loyalty. We will continue to work hard to support our fans and present them with wines for which we are proud, and an overall experience that is new and interesting.
To check out what we are up to in November, head to our events page.
We are wrapping up harvest here at William Chris, but we wanted to pause from our punch downs and fermentations to tell you about some of the fantastic events we have coming up next month as well as how things have been going here!
Harvest – The whole team has been up to their elbows (literally) in grapes for the past two months. Because of the unexpected rain August brought us, we worked overtime to ensure our grapes were being picked with the perfect balance of acidity and sugar so it does not alter the flavor of the wine. We hauled them back to the winery from all over Texas, where we destemmed, crushed and pressed the fruits of our labor. Now in the fermentation process, we are anxiously awaiting the aging and bottling process, which means we are one step closer to having our fans share a glass with us. We hope you all are just excited as we are to try the upcoming wines.
Weren’t able to join us at our Annual Grape Punch? Check out a few photos below!
Texas Wine Month – All October – We may be biased, but October is our absolute favorite month. Why? It honors Texas wines! To celebrate, we will feature a Wine of the Week, available for purchase online or on-site. There is a limited supply, so keep an eye out for some of the exclusive, limited production and libraried selections from this year and last. We will be making out announcements on our Facebook page every week - don't miss it!
Artist Blend Competition – All October – We’re looking for artwork for the next label for our Artist Blend wine and who better to design than our very own fans! We are accepting submissions now through October 20. The final selections will be displayed at our November Hye Society Release parties for our members to help choose the next label.
Chicago Dinner Series – October 7 & 8 – Some of you may have heard that we have packed up a few bottles of William Chris wines and jet-setted to Chicago to wine and dine some of our favorite mid-westerners. You can find us hosting a collaborative dinner at The Gage on Friday, October 7, and Nico Osteria on Saturday, October 8! Our co-founder, Chris Brundrett, will be there to chat Texas wine and how Texas is changing the wine industry.
San Antonio Wine Mixer – October 16 – Catch us at the first ever San Antonio Wine Mixer at Paper Tiger! We will have samples of our favorite wines, alongside live music and bites provided by Paper Tiger.
We hope to see you at some of our events this month!
With so many new faces around the vineyards, we figured we should give a quick run down of our yearly events so that everyone can start planning now!
Black-Eyed Pea Contests
Each year on January 1st, we like to kick off the new year right. We host a huge shindig including a black-eyed pea cook-off contest, as well as a blackeyed pea eating contest! We have tons of contestants cook up their best black-eyed pea creations for the judges to taste. And who are the judges? Anyone who wants to be! All you have to do is register! It comes with a souvenir William Chris Cook-Off apron and the opportunity to taste all the black-eyed pea entries and then vote on them! It is super fun, with live music, wine and dancing. It's the perfect way to start the new year off.
We host this annual dinner under the beauty of the hill country stars (weather permitting). This romantic dinner is full of all the decadent foods you can imagine. Last year, Chef Chozet used aphrodisiacs in every course to get your Valentine's Day (and night *wink wink*) in full swing.
Each spring, we here at William Chris love to host a big concert event. We bring tables out onto the lawn and have a stage framing the vineyard. We have had acts such as Bonnie Bishop, Larry Joe Taylor and Dr. Zog. Each year we like to provide a new and exciting experience with the music paired with a unique dining experience. We have served paella, had several food trucks serving everything from cajun to BBQ and even had a huge crawfish boil! Everyone comes out and eats, drinks and dances the night away.
Every year on April 24th, we get to celebrate our anniversary and show how truly thankful we are to be here and for everyone's loyal support. We host a dinner the weekend closest to our anniversary to celebrate. We have an elegant coursed meal, complete with amazing wines of course! This is the dinner where we bring out wines from both the library and the barrel. Bill and Chris are on hand to talk about how far we have come and where we are going in the future. It is a small dinner, so you have to book early to make your reservations.
Hog and Goat Roast
The last weekend in June, you can epect to see us having a glorious Sunday Funday with all who are present. We host our annual Hog and Goat Roast event. We roast whole goats using the Brundrett family recipe and a couple hogs as well, complete with al the fixin's! We have live music, lawn games and wine. It's a ton of fun for the entire family. It's a great way to kick off the summer.
Grape punch is an event that happens in the middle of harvest season. It is similar to the Grape Stomps most are familiar with, but with a William Chris flair. We host a mini-seminar about the entire process of harvesting and crushing grapes. After the seminar is complete, all participants will then "scrub up" all the way to their shoulders to sanatize themselves. They will then help us punch down our bins of fermenting grapes. It is so much fun! After our guests are finished playing in the grapes, they will then put their purple handprints onto the back of their complimentary William Chris Grape Punch t-shirt! It is a total blast. This event typically takes place the first and second weekends of August on both Saturday and Sunday.
As harvest season draws to a close, we love to hold a dinner to celebrate. Bill and Chris are on hand to talk about the trials and tribulations of that year's harvest. It is a great way to keep up with what wines will be coming out in the future, as well as enjoy an incredible meal prepared by our chef.
Our final event of the year is our Holiday Dinner. We use this dinner as a time to reflect on the past year at William Chris. It is a dinner where everyone is family and we can celebrate the holidays as one. With beautiful holiday decor and scrumptious holiday foods, this dinner is one for the books. It is the perfect gathering before the chaos of late Decmeber kicks in. If you attend this dinner, don't forget to check out the beautifully decorated Christmas tree in the tasting room an pick up a commemorative William Chris Christmas ornament made in the shape of our star logo in Hill Country clay.
Of course we hold many other event throughout the year, such as Hye Supper Club, private tastings and pick-up parties. So keep a look out on our website for tickets to these and all other William Chris events.
With Earth Day 2015 right around the corner, what better way to celebrate than by sharing all of the ways William Chris has gone green so far this year. We have take several big steps to change the way we live to save the planet one day at a time.
A little over a month ago, we took a huge step in decreasing the number of plastic water bottles that we used in the tasting room. We added in an incredible water machine that takes water right out of the water line, cleans and chills it to produce some of the best tasting water you will ever have.
To date, we have used 205 gallons of water from this machine. That is the equivalent to 1,553 water bottles saved! That's incredible! If we can save that much plastic from being dumped in landfills in just one month, imagine what we can do over the years to come!
We have also started carrying William Chris branded aluminum water bottles. Now on your visit, you no longer have to get plastic water bottle after plastic water bottle. You can grab a canteen and use it everywhere you go! With our water machine, using these bottles is a breeze, as you can refill them over and over with crisp, cold, refreshing hill country water.
Another way that we are helping to save the world is through the process of mulching. Mulching is the process where we take mulch and spread it under the vines. This prevents us from having to use herbacides on the soil. The mulch keeps plants and weeds from growing near the vines. This allows the vines to absorb all of the nutrients in the soil instead of having to share the nutrients with other vegetation. This chemical-free way to control unwanted plant growth is a huge way that we are able to reduce our negative impact on the Earth.
We also use something known as compost tea when we irrigate the vines. This "tea" is the combination of rotten vegetative waste and water, like a liquid fertilizer. We use this to provide essential nutrients to the soil. Instead of throwing away these rotting plants, we would much rather use them in this super constructive way.
Here at William Chris, we go through a TON of cardboard and glass. Fortunately, we have implimented a strict recycling program. We take every empty wine bottle and every empty case box to the local recycling centers, often one van or truck load at a time. While it would be much easier to just dump it all in the trash, we would much rather see it again in the form of new glass and paper.
We also try to use a lot of recyclable paper in our tasting room. While more expensive, we only use recyclable bags or paper bags made of all recycled paper when wrapping up bottles for our guests to take home. The tissue paper we use when wrapping bottles in our tasting room and for our wine club shipments is also made of 100% recycled paper.
We truly feel that it is our duty and responsibility to help make the planet a better place for future generations. We attempt to reduce, re-use and recycle in any way that we can, in every aspect of the business. We hope that you wil take the time and evaluate you impact on the Earth and take steps towards building a better future for generations of wine growers and drinkers to come.
William Chris Vineyards is proud to announce an awesome new partnership. We have paired up with Equitis Flights, LLC. to provide a Hill Country Experience like no other. Equitis will be offering helicopter tours over Hye. You will have the oportunity to see William Chris and the beauty beyond on these ten minute trips.
Now, I am one of those people that are more than terrified of heights, and I did it. So if you are thinking to yourself "No way! I hate heights! there's no way I'm doing that!" Think again. The problem with planes, rooves, roller coasters and even ladders is that you know when you are ascending. With these helicopter tours, you are in the air and you didn't even notice. The helicopter is so smooth and quiet, you won't notice a thing! And then, Voila! You're high in the sky! You can see the majestic hills and beautiful rock formations on the Pedernales.
I would strongly recommend treating yourself to one of these rides. Halsey, the pilot, will take the most amazing care of you, while providing awesome details and incredible customer service. The helicopter will be available for tours on April 3 and 4, May 8, 9, and 10, as well May 22, 23, and 24. They will also be available during all three Hye Society Release parties in April. If you plan on flying high over Hye, book ahead on their website HERE!
We are pleased to announce the newest addition to the William Chris wine family! Next weekend we will be releaseing the new Skeleton Key!
This new wine is the perfect blend. Featuring grapes from all over Texas, we used a multitude of varietals in this unique wine. We used Aglianico, Sangiovese, Merlot, Syrah (from 3 vineyards), Cabernet Sauvignon, Ruby Cabernet, and Tannat. We are really excited to be using some varietals in this blend that we have not used in the past.
When creating this blend, Chris just could not get it right. Every time he thought he had come up with the perfect combination, it just wasn't right. Chris woke up in the middle of the night one night and had a sort of "Ah Ha!" moment. He drove to the winery and put together the final blend, finishing around 6 in the morning. Now THAT'S dedication!
This wine has a rich garnet tint. It delivers delivers aromas of baked plum, black cherry and pomegranate, lifted at the palate's edges by lighter floral notes. Lush and nearly opulent with ripeness, its texture is expressive with moderately high tannins exhibiting flavors of roasted coffee and chocolate melting into a mocha-like finish.
The label of this wine has a really cool story, too! When Bill and Chris first purchashed the property, almost five years ago, they were walking through the old Deike house. As they were passing through, they noticed something on the wall across the way. They walked over, and on a nail, there hung a key. They discovered that this key opened all of the doors in the house. Bill took the key and kept it, hoping that there would come a time that we could use it. When the idea of the Skeleton Key wine came about, it was the perfect opportunity.
The photo of the key pictured on the label is a photograph of the actual skeleton key found in our historic tasting room so many years ago.