Interview with Llano Estacado's Event Manager and Sommelier, Matt Bostick
If you want to experience a Texas wine legacy, Llano Estacado is the place for you. Standing as the second oldest winery in the state of Texas, Llano Estacado was originally founded in 1976 by Robert Reed and “Doc” McPherson, and has now passed its leadership on to “the most experienced management in the state.”
Matt Bostick is one of Llano’s certified specialists in wine. Bostick is a level three sommelier with 10 years of experience in the wine industry, including having been a lead sommelier at a Michelin star rated restaurant in Los Angeles. Matt is a Texas Tech graduate raised in Lubbock, where the winery is located. He has a passion for West Texas’ history and after a few years in California, he was ready to circle home and combine his favorite interests.
Many may not know that Llano was the first Texas winery to open its door after prohibition, Bostick said, “to be a part of that history, to be home, and to work for a company with a legacy like Llano, meanwhile spreading the word of Texas high plains wines was really attractive to me.”
The history of the name is also unique and continues to reflect its legacy. Bostick explained, “Llano Estacado is the term that the Spanish conquistadores named for this area of Texas when they came up in the 1600’s, which means ‘staked plains.’ It refers back to them planting mission varietals in the western part of the state up into New Mexico.”
Showcasing his pride for Llano’s history and wines is Bostick’s favorite part of his job. As an event manager, he gets to play the role of an approachable teacher, breaking down the barriers for wine newbies and educating guests about Llano’s wine styles and varietals.
“I’ve always been a history nerd and always found cultural world history a really interesting topic. I really try to approach wine education in a fun manner and take the snobbery out of it. I want to provide information that people can grasp and understand without being afraid to ask questions,” said Bostick.
Bostick also values the emotional connection that people can make with wine and wants to share that with others. He described his own aha moment when he sat down to a table in Florence, Italy and was poured a glass of 1990 Gaja “Sperss” Barolo – a vintage from the year he was born.
“One, I didn’t even know that wine could last that long, and two, it was the most transcendent thing I experienced. I’ve never put my nose in a glass and been able to pinpoint aromas. And then the aromas were striking childhood memories and things that were attached to these aromas that I didn’t even know were a thing.” One of his goals is to introduce people to wine, so they too can have their own eye-opening experience.
“We’re really just trying to allow people to explore this themselves and attach things that mean something to them. We’re just kind of guiding them down their own path,” said Bostick.
Hands-on experience is one of the fastest ways to make that personal connection, which is why Llano provides food and wine classes so guests can see how multi-faceted wine really is. These intimate food and wine pairing classes “guide people to understand that wine is a component on the table. It’s not just something that we always drink and enjoy. It does have a place just how salt and pepper do,” said Bostick.
Llano’s wines have made an appearance on the table of The White House at Bush’s presidential dinner. By gaining greater recognition, Llano wants to celebrate the quality value of all Texas wine and bring that to the rest of the world.
“Over 90% of Texas wines are consumed in the state of Texas. So, I think the next step is really just figuring out how to put the spotlight on how the quality of wine has changed in Texas, and that there’s a lot to explore,” said Bostick. With room for growth, Bostick said, “I think just not enough people have really looked to Texas yet as a fine wine growing region.”
Adding Sommly to their partnership was another step forward in getting its brand and the Texas name out to the public. Bostick addressed the evolving consumer market by noting, “I think as the world is shifting, and as the dynamics of purchasing powers are shifting, [Sommly] is a great opportunity for our brand, to explore that leg. And with it being a Texas based company focusing on the Texas wine industry. I mean, who better to partner with on trying to develop that segment?”
Many who know of Llano Estacado wine likely recognize it from grocery store shelves, as a number of their wines are distributed widely across the state. In addition to the Llano wines that are distributed in large volumes, Llano Estacado also produces and sells a handful exclusively onsite and through their wine club program. These smaller production, often single vineyard wines are now available for purchase on sommly.com
We at Sommly encourage you to experience more Texas wine history by booking a private event or wine tasting at Llano Estacado Winery. If you can’t make it to the Texas high plains soon, you can find Llano Estacado’s wines available on the Sommly marketplace, and within a few clicks you can have their award-winning wines shipped right to your doorstep.