May was a good time to get out and see some of the sights near home. Fredericksburg is a few minutes drive up north, and we went with Nancy and Gary to have a bit of lunch and to stop in at the Lavender Festival that weekend at Becker Vineyard.
Forget about the lavender. Becker does not have vast fields of the stuff, and, besides, it’s not yet the season. This was, however, a great opportunity to take the wine tour and to sample some of the product. People were lined up for some of the Hill Country’s best.
I pulled out my Master Card and obtained tickets for Barbara Jean and me. They’re $21 each, but worth doing at least once. They give you a wine glass to keep with the company logo, and they sample some of their best stock. Talk $40 or more a bottle.
For the technically minded, and also for the best photos, the wine tour is the highlight of the visit. It’s free, a tour starting every half hour. Just gather by the double doors in the wine tasting room, and follow tour guide Alan Dean. His knowledge is deep and colorful.
The remainder is a collection of photos from the wine facility. Alan tells us how much Becker spends on barrels, how the barrels are used, and the eventual retirement of the barrels. It’s a saga in itself. Be advised that wine barrels are a critical part of wine making, and a lot goes into these items at any conscientious production facility.
The large steel tanks are impressive, as well. Some are for fermentation, some are for storage. Becker markets about a million bottles of wine each year, and the entire process is carried out in two large sheds. When production starts to get ahead of the bottling operation, wine is pumped into tanks, where it is kept at 32F for as long as necessary.
Wine spends months prior to sale in these barrels. This is what really turns fermented grape juice into drinkable wine. Unlike another vineyard we visited in this Texas wine region, Becker uses grapes grown here on their property. They also use fruit from other growers, located in the Texas High Plains. Here is a sample list we obtained at the tasting:
- 2015 Viognier Reserve Farmhouse Vineyard
- 2014 Rousanne Reserve
- 2015 White Wing (blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillion)
- 2015 Prairie Cuvee
- 2016 Jollie Rosé
- 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Wilmeth Family Vineyard
- 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Canada Family Vineyard
- 2015 Chevaux Noir
- 2015 Raven
- 2015 Tempranillo Reserve
- 2015 Cabernet Franc Reserve
- 2015 Gewurtztraminer 2% rs
- 2014 Muscat Chenin 3% rs
- 2016 Muscat Canelli Amabile 2.5% rs Krick Hill Vineyard
- 2015 Clementine 12% rs Madeira-Style
- 2015 Vintage Port
Barbara listed the wines we tasted in her order of preference.
- Cabernet Franc Reserve
- Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Canada Family Vineyard
- Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Wilmeth Family Vineyard
- Viognier Reserve Farmhouse Vineyard
- Jollie Rosé
For your information, the Cabernet Franc Reserve goes for $40 a bottle. Barbara’s numbers 4 and 5 go for $24.95. These are vineyard prices. I checked with a San Antonio wine store, and they can’t get the Cabernet Franc Reserve. It is likely availably directly from the vineyard. The Becker Cabernet Reserve sells for $23.99 at Total Wine and More.
I originally got interested in Becker Vineyards when I was alerted that the late artist Tony Bell was showing up on wine bottles in the store.
Apparently the winery’s founder, Richard Becker, had been a friend of Tony’s since school days at UT Austin, and Tony subsequently designed the labels. This is the only one that features a self-portrait. It’s a Cabernet Sauvignon and is one of their commercial wines, sold in stores. It’s reasonably-priced and makes for a gratifying dinner wine.
We didn’t spend much time in Fredericksburg last weekend, the idea being that Barbara Jean and I will go back later this year and spend a couple of days. Look for a write-up after the cool weather sets in.