An interview with Christine Daly: Assistant Winemaker; John Messina: Vineyard Manager; and Jennifer Craig: Director of Operations
To say it all started in 2016 when friends and business partners Paul Dierickx and Ben Stovall purchased the Wimberley estate is only part of the story. There was previously a vineyard on the property that had been devastated by a fire and burned to the ground in 2011. The families replanted the estate with Mediterranean varietals in 2017, and did so with the advisory of Rob and Lydia Nida, who also consulted with them to establish the vineyard, wine production programs, and the winery platform overall. In addition to consulting Texas grape growers, winemakers, the Nidas operate their own: Pebble Rock Cellars in Johnson City.
While Ben and Paul’s initial intent for Limestone Terrace Vineyards was to plant, farm and sell fruit to Texas wineries, the team’s vision evolved to include wine production and a community oriented onsite tasting experience. They renovated the production barn, constructed the tasting tent, and developed longer term plans to continue integrating more of their 25 acres to host family- and pet-friendly guest experiences and gatherings around wine.
Two years later in 2019, they released their first estate vintage of Mourvédre Rosé, alongside a handful of vintages produced with fruit procured from the Texas High Plains.
Their style of winemaking and the varieties selected are a nod to the old while creating something new, and the revival of Limestone Terrace Vineyard. So too is the winemaking philosophy, which integrates old world processes with modern technology; seeking always to make the best possible wine without altering the integrity of the grape.
Perhaps Ben’s background in advanced technologies was a prelude to his eventual portfolio and approach to winemaking. According to the team, “ Ben is constantly looking for innovative and creative solutions, and that’s true for his winemaking approach as well. It’s always an adventure in the cellar, as we work with estate fruit and source different varieties from around the state, producing in small lots, and experiment and learn with several different programs to discover firsthand what works best here, in terms of producing the highest quality wines. It’s always an adventure!”
The innovative and exploratory approach shows up in the tasting room and in club member programs as well, as Limestone Terrace Vineyard offers a “smattering of everything” including sparkling, reds, rosés, and barrel aged whites.
“We are drawn to producing varieties that thrive here in Texas, over those that are generally popular in the US. For example, many of our favorite grapes to work with are often only found in the Texas High Plains, Hill Country, or a tiny part of Italy.”
The team spoke about the passion they share with many in the industry, for educating people about Texas wine. The best way of which is to introduce varieties that thrive here, and compare laterally with grapes consumers may be more familiar with.
“It’s fun to introduce guests to varietals they haven’t heard of, yet alone tried before. Like, if you enjoy Chardonnay and Petit Verdot, try our barrel fermented Roussanne and our Teroldego almost invariably they enjoy the lateral comparison and feel like we’re all in on a little secret, having discovered these lesser known Spanish and Italian varietals that thrive here in Texas,” Christine shared.
While yields are lower this year than expected due to weather conditions around the state, the team is thrilled with the quality of what came in from harvest, and shared some of the innovations coming down the line, from the first ever Port vintage (from Teroldego) to the Mourvèdre estate sparkling which we’ll get to try when it’s released in a couple of months.
The vineyard’s location in Wimberley is a differentiator, too. It’s in the Hill Country, soils make excellent fruit, and it’s outside the 290 corridor, close proximity to Austin, and a handful of wineries that are relatively close. The team finds the estate fruit is less fruit forward than the fruit from the High Plains, and observed that it reads more like the rustic European old world wines.
The estate vineyard and tasting room was designed to be inclusive for children, dogs, and “… a nice place to just hang out. We want people to come out and feel like they’re family, to walk around the vineyard, take photos, and be a part of everything. It’s very important for inclusivity and community to be part of the experience,” Jennifer shared.
Leaning into a high sense of community in Wimberley, Limestone Terrace has launched a handful of programs, including “locals night” with their growler program. Using growlers instead of the traditional bottling process for a rotating production of red and white table wine is one way that Limestone Terrace is innovating while paying homage to the more European approach to community over commercialization. At the same time, growlers allow the winery to share the same beautifully produced wine for a lower price, which is offset by the cost of packaging and reusable bottles.
John reflected, “The team really thrives on innovation, and we draw inspiration from what we love. It’s all about constantly learning, finding out what we can make, and doing our part to share with the Texas wine industry. We’re all a team trying to elevate awareness to this industry, which is still in its relative infancy.”
We highly recommend a visit to the Wimberley vineyard and tasting room, where each vintage tells a new story, and guests feel like extended family. With a little luck, winery dogs Brixy and Gator may even be there to greet you onsite!