Family ranch transforms to include a vineyard, production facility, and winery
I met Krystal Patel about a year ago in winery at Pedernales Cellars. We were both on a field trip touring cellars as part of our wine education – mine through Texas Tech University and hers through the Society of Wine Educators. She was planning a vineyard, winery, and production facility, all set to open by the end of this year. But, with supply chain issues, problems in the construction field, and a lack of employees, the planned project just hasn’t fully taken form. So Krystal is learning a lesson in patience and flexibility!
Krystal grew up spending family holidays and weekend getaways at her grandparent’s farm on Highway 290. Albert and Dora Meier owned the 555-acre ranch, now in its fifth generation and continuing into the future with dreams of extending the family history of living off the land. The property is between Stonewall and Hye and has a rich history in the farming community of central Texas. Krystal’s grandfather owned a tractor dealership in Fredericksburg and used his family property for yearly tractor shows.
At the entrance of the property, you’ll find a giant steel ball adjacent to the gate. It is nearly as tall as me (which isn’t very tall at all)! Almost five feet in diameter, the ball was pulled by two bulldozers attached by a large ship anchor chain. Each link of this chain weighed 100 pounds. Albert used the ball as part of his land-clearing business. He would clear the mesquite trees, shrubs, and brush to prepare land for planting peach orchards and hay fields all across the hill country. In fact, Fort Hood Army Base in Killeen was cleared using this ball. Albert drove one dozer and his brother-in-law steered the other, taking the team two years to prepare the land for the base. clear mesquite trees and brush from land to prepare for farming. The ball has been spruced up recently with bright red paint, so you’re sure to
notice it on the south side of the highway at the entrance to Meierstone Vineyards.
Krystal, her husband, and their son live in Austin as they work towards this project to expand her family’s heritage with a working winery on the farm. She has an Master’s degree in Business and worked for ten years in the tech field. Today she serves as Vice-Chair of the non-profit Manos de Cristo while she works hard on this new chapter of her life on the farm. Together with her parents, they are creating Meierstone Vineyards.
Since the construction project is taking longer than anticipated, she has converted one of the existing barns on the property into a temporary tasting room. It was a chilly fall day when we popped in to taste her wines, and the barn was very cozy and comfortable. Tastings are available Thursday through Sunday, and there are four wines to taste from the 2020 vintage. In nice weather, there is ample outdoor seating. And the tasting room is both dog and family-friendly.
Krystal is studying wine and winemaking and is lucky to be gaining hands-on experience under the guidance of winemaker Rob Nida. The plans are to build an 11,000-square-foot building just east of the temporary tasting room, which will house the winemaking facility and tasting room. This section of the farm is 15-acres and will include vineyards, although the varieties of grapes are not yet selected.
What I admire about this new project on the Wine Trail is Krystal’s mission for Meierstone Vineyards, “elevating the Texas wine industry, supporting local, and helping the community.” These goals are shining through with the donations from sales proceeds made to local non-profits. For example, ‘Candles for a Cause’ uses reclaimed wine bottles for handmade candles, and proceeds have been donated to the Fredericksburg Food Bank. During the month of December, the charity is K*STAR and in January the donations will be given to The Grace Center. As a wine lover, I can’t think of anything better than supporting a good cause with the wines I buy!
But Krystal isn’t stopping there. She has also launched the Meierstone Ambassador Program as a creative way to spread the word about her project while getting local wine enthusiasts involved. Anyone can apply to be an Ambassador. As a voice for the brand, you will share their story, and, in return, you can be among the first to try new wines, receive discounts, and even free products. These two programs show the winery’s commitment to the community, which is refreshing to see in our ever-growing industry.
The aim is 100% Texas wines, with current bottlings from grapes of the Texas High Plains. Another seven red wines from the 2021 vintage and two from 2022 are all aging gracefully in their barrels. Here are the wines currently on the tasting menu:
- 2021 Trebbiano – Paka Vineyards, 124 cases – typical notes of floral soap, lemongrass, apricot, and lemon with a full mouth feel.
- 2021 Roussanne – Bingham Vineyards, 151 cases – 33% aged in new French oak barrels, notes of peaches, and baking spices with a full palate and smooth tannins.
- 2021 Rosé – Sangiovese with a touch of Trebbiano, Texas High Plains, 169 cases – aged 9 months in neutral French oak, soft strawberry, plum, and cranberry.
- 2018 Reserve Malbec – Newsom Vineyards, 200 cases – aged 46 months in neutral French oak, notes of blackberry and dried roses, velvety tannins, and a smooth finish.
I’m excited to see what comes of this new project on an old farm, and couldn’t be happier for Krystal in her wine journey. Make your reservation for a tasting here.