I recently decided that I would like to start dabbling in some video segments for the blog. I'm certainly not interested in trying to be Gary Vaynerchuck or anything, but I thought it would be fun to go out and talk with some people in the West Texas wine community. This blog has really been an opportunity for me to share my love and enthusiasm for wine, and these videos will be another way of doing that.
The stars really aligned for this post, as I had just connected with some nice folks at the Pheasant Ridge Winery the week before. They were brave enough to be my first interview, so I went out to the winery, which is located just north of the airport here in Lubbock, and met with Luke Andrews and Zach Edgerton. We had a really great visit and enjoyed tasting some Pheasant Ridge wines.
Pheasant Ridge has been producing wine here in West Texas for about 30 years. They are a fairly small producer, turning out around 5,000 cases of wine a year. Despite being the 4th oldest winery in the state, they are somewhat unknown compared to other wineries in the area. From my visit, I don't think that this is due to the quality of the wine that they are producing. Even Robert Parker has commented on their wine in the past, saying that their Cabernet, "is big, bold, and
complex and competitive in quality with anyone." Every wine that I tasted at the winery was of good quality and was enjoyable to drink.
Pheasant Ridge has had the same wine maker for about 20 years, and all of their wines are estate grown. These two factors have really combined to help them develop wines that are expressive of their vineyard's terroir. These wines truly start in the vineyard, with the winery trying to use vineyard management techniques as much as possible to minimize their use of unnatural additives in the making of their wines. They are certainly not attempting to make organic wines at this point in time, but they are attempting to make quality wines that really express the fruit and the vineyard, while using responsible growing and winemaking practices.
Winemaker Manuel Lechuga began his education almost 30 years ago, learning from Bobby Cox and Dr. Enrique Ferro. Lechuga is a bit of a bootstrap winemaker, having gained his experience through years of on the job study and hard work. His years of experience have helped him refine his gift for making quality wines. The majority of Manuel's winemaking career has been spent with Pheasant Ridge, and the winery has benefited from having the same winemaker running the production for the last 20 years.
The wines that Pheasant Ridge produces are all French varietals, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Noir, and Merlot. Their Pinot Noir is one of the few Pinot Noir wines produced from Texas grapes. I had the opportunity to try a number of their wines and will be doing full reviews on the Pinot Noir, their Proprietor's Reserve (a Bordeaux blend that is their signature wine), and the Chardonnay. I do have a few quick thoughts on the wines that I tried.
- All of these wines are really great values, with the most expensive wine that I tasted running a paltry $15. These wines can be found even cheaper in some stores, but even at $15 they are more than worth the price. The Chenin Blanc (one of the few dry Chenin Blancs made in Texas) is an outstanding value, setting you back only $9.
- All of the wines that I tasted are well made, but my least favorite is the Merlot. It certainly is not a bad wine, but I think that their other wines are better options.
- The Pinot Noir will make an outstanding food wine. It has a touch of tartness to it that I think will work really well with a lot of different foods. I am very impressed with this wine, and think that it stands up extremely well with other Pinots in this price point.
Pheasant Ridge Winery is just a short drive North of the airport in Lubbock. The tasting room is open Friday and Saturday from 12-6, and on Sunday from 1-5. They offer tastings, a gift shop, and tours of the winery. Follow them on Twitter @Pheasant_Ridge, and check out their website at www.pheasantridgewinery.com.