breaking news

It’s official: Baker Mayfield selected No. 1 in the NFL draft

The Austin Winery aims to offer an urban winery within city limits


If Austinites want to drink Texas wine where it’s made, they travel to the nearby Hill Country, which boasts plenty of lauded wineries that in good harvests can often use their own grapes to make the wine. Soon, with the upcoming Austin Winery, locals might not have to go far at all.

Three young entrepreneurs are opening the winery just off U.S. 290 in the northeast part of town to build up the local urban wine scene, which they’ve noticed hasn’t taken off the way craft beer and cocktails have in the past few years.

While the Austin Winery isn’t surrounded by acres of land to grow grapes, the founders have sourced fruit from both California and Texas, then fermented the grapes onsite, to produce a solid beginning roster of mainly reds and three whites that will, in the next few weeks, be available at boutique liquor stores and Whole Foods, some restaurants and bars, and at the winery.

CEO Ross McLauchlan, vice president and winemaker Cooper Anderson and chief of operations Matthew Smith also plan to open a tasting lounge downtown in the coming months.

But in the meantime, their main focus is spreading the word about the wine and getting the winery ready to open. I stopped by on a recent visit to sample some of the wines and get their story.

They want to emphasize that just because most of their wines — which include three very different Pinot noirs, a Zinfandel and a Sauvignon Blanc — are made primarily with California grapes doesn’t mean they aren’t considered Texas wine.

“There are urban wineries in Vancouver, Chicago, New York … but it’s still a relatively new concept,” Anderson said. “Historically wineries and vineyards go together; a lot of times you don’t have one without the other. But no one goes to Austin Beerworks and asks, ‘But where are your fields of grain?’ Breweries here get their hops from all over and they still make Austin beer.”

Anderson, who worked at Driftwood Estate Winery and Vineyard with McLauchlan and at Duchman Winery, started with a beer background; his father is a Virginian chemist with a small hop farm. However, his years in the wine industry — he also worked at St. Patrick’s of Texas, which distributes wine equipment — helped him to develop a passion for wine that McLauchlan tapped into when the idea to open the Austin Winery first began to ferment between the two friends in 2011.

McLauchlan is mainly in charge of finding grape varietals and blending them; he lets Anderson be the scientist who tests for sulfites and “makes sure we aren’t making poison,” he joked.

Smith, whom they met playing soccer, doesn’t have the extensive knowledge of wine that the other two do, but he “knows how to keep us organized and on point,” McLauchlan said.

So far the Austin Winery has produced eight wines with California grapes; two made with Texas grapes — a Merlot and a Blanc du Bois — will be ready in time for the official opening. McLauchlan said he and Anderson chose not to make wines only with Texas fruit because there simply wouldn’t be enough, particularly during bad harvests like last year’s.

“By sourcing from multiple places, rather than relying on statewide fruit, we stay consistent,” Anderson added.

All three are only in their mid-20s, and at the time they started seeking out grape varietals, they didn’t have much of a business to their name. So how were they able to cultivate so many good grapes from some of California’s best winegrowing regions, including the Russian River Valley and Sonoma County?

The grape growers and winemakers they reached out to, McLauchlan said, saw they were genuine about the project and were willing to help as “our elder consults.” Siduri Wine’s co-founder Adam Lee, a native Austinite, even reached out to them when he heard three Texas boys were on the hunt for California grapes.

“How can I help?” he said.

Because his Santa Rosa winery focuses primarily on producing Pinot noirs, he was able to get them closer to their goal of becoming Pinot specialists, McLauchlan said.

I sampled each of the Austin Winery wines and liked best the one that was created first: the 2010 Violet Crown, 80 percent Grenache and 20 percent Syrah, a well-balanced blend that appeals to palates preferring fruit and spice. Along with the Old Vine Zinfandel, it’s available by the bottle but also in barrels that can hold up to 9 liters (or 12 bottles) of wine, perfect for big parties.

With the Austin Winery, McLauchlan, Smith and Anderson hope locally crafted wine gets the same reception that craft beer and cocktails do.

“I’ve never had that fear or intimidation of wine,” McLauchlan said, explaining that his Italian mom introduced him to a glass of wine with dinner when he was 8 years old. “It’s very romantic and mysterious and who wouldn’t want to enjoy that?”

To find out when the Austin Winery officially opens (it just needs a TABC inspection at this point), visit www.theaustinwinery.com.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Austin360

Want to catch up on Marvel films before ‘Avengers: Infinity War’? It'll take more than 38 hours
Want to catch up on Marvel films before ‘Avengers: Infinity War’? It'll take more than 38 hours

Marvel’s highly-anticipated “Avengers: Infinity War” film officially hits theaters Thursday night. Are you prepared? >> Read more trending news  The Marvel Studios film blazoned with superheroes, villains and warriors follows 10 years of such blockbusters. It’s the 19th movie and third “Avengers” film...
Sorry, Jmblya fans: Cardi B apparently is off the May 5 festival lineup
Sorry, Jmblya fans: Cardi B apparently is off the May 5 festival lineup

Rapper Cardi B (L) and Offset attend the 2018 Maxim Party co-sponsored by blu February 3, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images for blu) Hip-hop fest Jmblya still has headliners J Cole, Migos and a lot more at Circuit of the Americas on May 5, but it appears Cardi B is off the bill on account...
Uncle Billy’s is now a ‘brewstillery’ with the launch of new vodka and whiskey
Uncle Billy’s is now a ‘brewstillery’ with the launch of new vodka and whiskey

To cap off a year of big changes and a week of 12th anniversary festivities, Uncle Billy’s Brewery & Smokehouse now offers two spirits — vodka and bourbon — available exclusively at the Barton Springs Road restaurant, along with its beer. Uncle Billy’s is launching a menu of 10 on-tap cocktails made with the vodka and bouron...
New restaurants: 15 of the most notable openings of 2018
New restaurants: 15 of the most notable openings of 2018

The Brewer’s Table in East Austin opened April 19. (Contributed by Robert J. Lerma)[/caption] Better Half. 406 Walsh St. 512-645-0786,  betterhalfbar.com. The owners of the Brew & Brew have created an all-day restaurant that pays homage to some of their American favorites like the ham biscuit, hush puppies...
Planning, artistic vision guide Filigree Theatre through first season
Planning, artistic vision guide Filigree Theatre through first season

It’s difficult to succeed as a new theater company in Austin. With performance and rehearsal space at a premium, funding often nonexistent and a panoply of long-established companies claiming much of the limelight, it can be a major challenge to get a company off the ground. Many an Austin theater group has had a first production; far fewer have...
More Stories