Mike Guilette with Woodrose Winery:
Mike Guilette has two passions he lives daily; wine maker and chef. In 2005 Mike bought Woodrose Winery and 24.5 acres and is now taking the winery to new heights. He and his family have been working very hard to get the winery on the map. Their efforts have not gone unnoticed; in fact, each year they plan to increase production by twenty percent, eventually producing ten times their current volume.
Bill Blackmon and Chris Brundrett with William Chris Vineyards:
In the Cellar, Bill and Chris trust each wine to come into its own with as little intervention as possible. The red wine program is centered around the pre-industrial method of open air fermentation whenever possible. Daily punchdowns by hand allow for the most delicate maceration process during fermentation. Once each allotment of wine has been barreled, they practice minimal handling, many wines taking on increasing complexity and depth for years to come. Still wine is racked with the goal of minimum air contact over a 12-18 month barrel program consisting of high-quality French, American and Eastern European oak. First to third-year barrels, with varying levels of toast, are matched to the needs of each lot.
Based on years of dedication to growing many varietals throughout the state of Texas, Bill and Chris understand the role played by blending. More and more, Texas is becoming known for unique and compelling blends as certain varietals demonstrate their character in different vineyards, under particular management techniques. Bill and Chris meticulously blend with each varietal’s strengths in mind in order to achieve wines that are both balanced and that emphasize the flavors that are unique to the vineyards in which they are grown. In this way, Bill and Chris work to create wines that are authentic expressions of each particular vintage and that truly represent the best of Texas.
Bénédicte Rhyne with Kuhlman Cellars:
Winemaker and Texas wine pioneer, Bénédicte Rhyne, joined the team in 2012 as Winemaker and partner. With a rich history in the Texas Wine community, Bénédicte began her career in Sonoma with Ravenswood Winery after completing her Diplôme National d’Œnologue (Masters in Enology) at the Universite de Bourgogne in Dijon, France. At Kuhlman Cellars, she crafts wine representative of Old World winemaking principles including blending high quality fruit to accent the stongest characteristics while maintaining a subtle hand in the manipulation of the natural juice. With these principles in mind, we strive to make wines of distinction, nuance and great complexity.
Inspired by the winding waterways, geological formations and mineral rich soil types found in the Texas Terroir, Kuhlman Cellars pays homage to this unique terrain in each of its proprietary blends. Recognizing the importance of finding viticultural union between the climate and vine, the Kuhlman winemaking team continues a vigilant pursuit of research, experimentation and education. Reconnecting ourselves, and our guests, with the idea wine is supremely agricultural by nature, builds a bond enjoyed from dirt, to barrel, to bottle.
Robert W Young, MD and John Rivenburgh with Bending Branch:
Robert W Young, MD, driving force behind the passion of Bending Branch Winery, felt drawn to the beauty and legacy of many of the wine regions of Europe, South America and the U.S. As a physician, he found the art and science of winemaking intriguing, as well as the increasing research regarding wine’s impact.
He progressed from a course in viticulture and enology study to a property search in the Texas Hill Country, near where daughter Alison was starting a family. He enrolled in the rigorous Winemaker Certification Program at UC Davis, an international leader in winemaker academics and research. With his multi-gifted son-in-law, John, committed full time to the passion as well, Bending Branch Estate Vineyard was born on a scenic hillside outside Comfort, Texas. John Rivenburgh is winemaker and co-founder of Bending Branch Winery and a fifth-generation Texan.
Bending Branch Winery’s program is best known for its experimentation in every facet, including trellis growing systems, fermentations and production processes.
John is a champion of sustainable practices and organic growing in Texas. He and his father-in-law and co-founder, Robert Young, are using groundbreaking technology, including bio-thermal cooling or “flash”, and they are world leaders in cryomaceration.
Bending Branch Winery’s choice of varietals, such as Tannat, Sagrantino, Souzão, Charbono, and Picpoul Blanc, is innovative for Texas.
A Texas winemaker for seven years, John makes wines in two states and has sharpened skills with a mentor in California at Ursa Vineyards, which Bending Branch Winery recently acquired.