Over 400 years ago a oak tree sprouted here. It grew, slowly at first, then it's strength and stature grew it began to stand out from the landscape. The large impressive oak became the symbolic site of numerous ceremonies and weddings, beginning with Native Americans, continuing with early settlers from the Santa Cruz de San Saba mission of 1758, whose ruins are located upstream on the San Saba River at Menard, and to the locals of today who look to this tree as a testament to the enduring qualities of life and the majestic beauty of all creation. Great inspiration for this winery's name, after all, like this majestic oak's roots, wine reaches back through time reminding us of all the shared pleasures of life — requesting we slow down long enough to appreciate the blessings of the land while enjoying local food and wine with friends, family and community.
On Monday I got to visit Mike and Lynn McHenry at their Wedding Oak Winery. An unassuming storefront off the town square in San Saba. It is a beautiful tasting room with great atmosphere; almost living room like feel that is very comfortable and inviting. Seemed almost cozy. Windows into the production part of the winery hint at the larger operation. Going through the door opens up to the barrels and beyond this is another door to more winery area and beyond that is another door still more winery. This is a much larger winery operation than it first appears and just a few minutes of talking to Mike and Lynn you will catch on that their aspirations are as big as Texas! Like their wineries namesake, they are digging in deep roots and growing tall; standing out from the landscape of Texas wineries.
And, their wines are ready for the world stage! Tasting through their line up convinces me that Penny Adams is making the best wines of her life. The whites are crisp and clean, refreshing and balanced. The "Wedding Suite" of wines is the triple treat of delicious wines, easy drinking, and brilliant branding/packaging. This line should be the 'cash cow' for the winery.
That being said, their real stunning and brilliant wines are the red wines... a long time favorite of mine is the Terre Rouge, this is made from the grapes grown in Mike and Lynn's High Valley Vineyard, it is a textbook example of grape type matched to geology and location. The aromas have a floral quality reminiscent to wild roses with cherry and cranberry. The flavors are bold and bright with sour cherry, raspberry and cranberry with notes of leather and tobacco heading into the complex and smooth finish. The shorthand on this wine is that it is a Texas rendition of Chateauneuf du Pape, one of the world's greatest wines and one MORE Texas wineries should be trying to recreate. (Soap box to come...)
Another show stopper is the Reserve Syrah from 2013, it is wisely being cellar aged in bottle right now and will be available next year. It has 23% Tannat grapes in it and which makes it BIG and brooding. On the nose there is a pronounced smoky quality venturing into the tar neighborhood. In the flavors licorice comes forward first with black cherry and stony minrality, cracked black pepper and those smoky, oaky flavors. This is a delicious wine now and in a few more months; the flavors will knit together and become more seamless and more seductive. I can't wait!
And the other superstar wine I tried was the Harmony Ridge 2012, Tempranillo 57%, Mourvedre 20%, Cabernet Sauvignon 16% and Grenache 7%. Another example of how great Tempranillo does in Texas! Expressive aromas with initial flavors on the sour side of the sweet and sour equation. Lots of black cherry, plum and wild fruit with that dusty Texas minrality and subtle oak. Balanced and expertly crafted, as good, if not better than many GREAT Spanish Tempranillo blends.
Take some time and make the trip to San Saba, it is a great Texas town, you can relax and unwind at Wedding Oak, taste their amazing wines and buy a case or two. You will be glad you did.