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We hope you enjoy our story!
This recap has become more of our way to recount and immortalize what transpired in 2020 than a regular blog post. If we would have read this a year ago, we would have laughed at our over-the-top attempt at fictional writing.
Don't miss the video at bottom of post!
2020 was our 3rd year open but it was more stressful than our first two years combined. We were closed down not once but twice and were restricted to to-go only sales for an extended period of time.
Highway 183, the highway outside our entrance had very little traffic as compared to normal. People just weren’t traveling when the pandemic started. Prior to the shutdown, we could have 5-15 new (first time) guests on any given Saturday. For the entire month of April, we only had 6 new guests. Things were so slow; we reduced our hours to Friday through Sunday (after being open 6 days per week). When we were allowed to re-open, we weren’t even able to offer samples of our wines; just to-go orders. This made purchasing our wine challenging for first time customers.
Loneliness was hard on everyone. We took advantage of every chance we could to visit. When guest would come to pick-up their wines, it would become a time to catch up. For curbside service, Moira would take out their order and stand outside their car window talking for 20-30 minutes almost every time. Wine Down Wednesday on Facebook Live became another way for us to connect with our community. In late May we were allowed to open at 50% capacity inside. Sales picked up and June started as a good month. That was until the next second closure on June 26th.
In late August we had the option to open with the requirement of submitting paperwork to become a restaurant. Brian has an entrepreneur’s heart and it is because of his determination that we opened and were able to start serving. This was not an easy project. It resulted in our having to buy equipment and restructure our back room to accommodate food service. Brian took on the task of being the cook. Most weekend evenings he has had to be in the back – not where he prefers, but he has become quite the cook. Some of his creations, like the bacon wheel and chalupa pizza, have become quite popular. Serving food allowed us to be open, but with just the two of us it was wearing us out. The food prep, cleaning and dishes were overwhelming at times. In November we hired our first employee. We are so happy to have Liz as apart of our Spirit of Texas family. She is energetic, friendly, and great to work with. She has helped us make this transition easier.
There were many bright spots in the year. We couldn’t have made it through the year without the support of so many, especially our community. Our Wine Club Members had a major impact in helping us get through the challenges. Even when they were unable to try the wines, they trusted us and continued to support us.
Here are some highlights of the year:
We released a record for us of 8 Texas wines
We won some awards!
Converted a shipping container into a refrigerated wine storage
Added our very cool Roof Top Winery sign
In spite of everything, we still continued to support our local non-profits. We donated or raised just over $10,000 for the year. Here were a few of the events we hosted:
Good Samaritan Ministries Empty Bowl Painting
April 5% of Sales
Memorial Day Weekend for the VFW
4th of July for Corinne T Smith Animal Shelter
BBQ for Hero’s – Local Volunteer Fire Departments
So what’s in store for 2021? We’re focusing on exterior improvements:
Expanding our parking area and new exit
Enhancing back patio area
Property-wide landscaping projects & clean up
Planting ½ acre of grapes
Planting ½ acre of lavender
2020 was definitely a learning experience. No contingency plan could have prepared for this. It challenged us to be creative and try some things we never would have done. We had so many people that stood by us and continued to support us all year. We are forever grateful!
The governor mandated shutdown has been weighing heavily on us. It’s hard to believe that Governor Abbott could devitalize a whole industry by shutting them down with just hours notice (bars, tap rooms, distilleries, breweries & wineries) for the actions of just a few. On June 22nd, just 4 days before the shutdown, TABC reported that in over 3,500 inspections since May, only a fraction of them resulted in violations of the existing mandate (full story). The Texas Comptroller reported $57 million in alcoholic beverage tax revenues for April 2020. That number is down 55% from April 2019.
You can help! If you haven’t done so already, contact Governor Abbott’s office and tell him that he unfairly shutdown an entire industry because of a few that were violating his previous mandate.
Remember, many smaller wineries, breweries and distilleries can’t be found in retail stores. Unfortunately, we never pursued it, choosing to meet most everyone that bought our wines. We have been able to count on wine festivals as an opportunity to expand our reach but every wine fest so far this year has been cancelled due to Covid. To make things worse, these high temps are preventing us from shipping to preserve the quality of our wines.
Here are some additional ways to help us small guys:
- Buy curbside (most allow call-in’s or online ordering)
- Buy online (Check for shipping policies)
- Check to see if you can drink on their grounds
- Purchase Gift Cards
- Join their Wine Club
- Support them on Social Media (Like, Comment & SHARE)
The best source for finding wineries:
Thank you for your continued support,
Brian & Moira
We had to postpone our anniversary a couple months, but it still turned out amazing! Originally we had envisioned a big event with food trucks and live music, but that changed. Since we had limited seating inside, we decided to celebrate it over 3 days. The weather cooperated, so the patio/pavilion area was well used all weekend.
The weekend started with the release of 3 new 100% Texas wines: Welcome, an aromatic dry white blend of Malvasia Bianca & Viognier. It’s the fitting replacement of our original award-winning Welcome. Aged to Reflection 2 is a compelling dry red blend. This version is a blend of 8 varietals, with much more complexity. Finally the Peach is back! You can officially start your summer now, because we have Peached Up back in stock.
One encouraging thing we noticed is that we had guest from all over Texas this past weekend (Huntsville, Lufkin, Waco, Frisco, Hewitt, Austin, Lubbock, Georgetown, Breckenridge, Midland, Odessa & Manor). It’s nice to see people traveling again.
The weekend was busy and we’re so grateful for that but the highlight of the weekend was totally unexpected. Unbeknownst to us, one of our biggest supporters had something special in mind for us. Sharon contacted one of our guests that creates beautiful wood work along with another guest that does laser engraving. We had a group of our regulars in attendance as we were presented with these 2 incredible Adirondack chairs! We were flabbergasted, speechless and teary eyed. We still can’t begin to say how truly blessed we have been since we moved here.
As always, thank you for your continued support & encouragement. We love this community!!!
Moira & Brian
Oh, and this!
- We Made it to June!
- Have you set up your online account?
New 100% Texas Wine Releases
We Made it to June!
Whew, but we’re not even halfway into 2020! Through all of this, we’ve seen the strength of our community. Brown County has some amazing people, that are proud to call this area home. As are we.
If you’re new or visiting, checkout our Around Town page. It lists things to see and places to eat and stay.
Have you set up your online account?
New 100% Texas Wine Releases
We just released the 3rd bottling of our crowd favorite Blush as well as our new 100% Picpoul Blanc (tropical bouquet but a wonderfully clean finish).
Upcoming releases: 2nd bottling of the Welcome White, a blend of Malvasia & Viognier. This dry white has a lovely floral bouquet and a finish that leaves you wanting more.
We’re excited to release Aged to Reflection 2. Comprising of Montepulciano, Aglianico, Tempranillo, Dolcetto and a few others, this dry red blend will surprise you with its complexity.
Our last June release has been requested for weeks! Our 2nd bottling of Peached Up will also be released in June. We had a trial run of this in December, and have been getting requests for more ever since. It’s a sweet white with natural peach flavorings. Pairs perfect with summer!!
We also have a 100% Texas Roussanne. It’s a dry white that we plan on releasing in the fall.
There’s more! We’re bottling 3 more dry reds this month. We’re excited about our 100% Texas Sangiovese. We hope to release it in December. The others are Aged to Reflection 3 and a 100% Texas Aglianico that will be released next year.
In the next few weeks, we’ll find out what’s available from the Texas grape growers and make our plans for what we’ll be bottling in 2021. We’re going to need more space! :)
We have some new logo hats coming in. The design will have our logo on the side. Brian says this is the cool look now!
Last month we added these fun ‘I Love Texas Wine’ shirts in crew and v-neck. They’re both Bella Canvas and very soft, especially the tri-blend v-neck.
We’re also stocking up on our bottle chillers. These have been the best wine accessory we’ve had!
Our highlight of 2020 is the Roof Top Winery sign! We love it!!
We added a 40’ shipping container that we converted into a large walk-in wine cooler. We’re adding a 40’ ‘car port’ to it to store the farm equipment.
We hung some more items inside the tasting room and have added a bunch of LED lights on the patio & fence line.
We have a few more projects that we’re hoping to start soon. Stay tuned for what’s in store!
For 3 years we were open almost every day. After the shutdown, we reduced our hours and have gotten kind of used to them! So here are our current hours:
In 2019 we introduced the Wine Sign! It was so much fun in the spring posting our Wine Sign quotes! They were a big hit with our social media followers. Do you remember your favorite?
We have a long list of improvements / plans for the property. Unfortunately, we didn’t get as much done in 2019 as we had hoped. We are still a work in progress. In February we worked on the pavilion area, adding a bunch of picnic tables. We have enjoyed seeing families use the area to eat and enjoy their time together. The showcase of the pavilion area is the drop-down stage that Double Diamond Iron & Woodworks created for us.
The Brownwood Bulletin wrote an article on our Valentine’s Day Blush Release, ‘Perfect Timing - Blush Release Valentine's Day.’ We had sold out of our original Blush in late December. As a result, in January and early February there were some unhappy customers, hearing their Blush was sold out. We had one guest, we’ll call Jane Doe, that wanted to wear black as a sign of mourning that we were out of her Blush! The release helped make our Valentine’s Day event a big success.
For the second year, we hosted Good Samaritan Ministries Empty Bowl painting events. GSM does such a fantastic job helping the community. We’re proud to support them. We have made an effort to support several local non-profits. We’ve been welcomed into Brown County and we’re committed to support it anyway we can.
There’s a whole bunch of Irish under our roof, so St Patrick’s Day is a favorite day here. Falling on a Sunday, it was the perfect day for some green wine (we released our Welcome that day) and the photo booth courtesy of Gobo Entertainment. It was such a fun day, all captured in the booth!
Our Fireside Sunsets became a surprise hit. We had so many guests share their enjoyment of their time sipping wine in front of the fire pit while watching the sunset. There is something about sitting around a fire that can’t be explained. Great conversations, laughter and even some tears. A perfect place to relax and unwined. Thanks to Kenny for supplying the firewood!
We celebrated our 2nd Anniversary in April. While it wasn’t a blockbuster event, we had such a fun time. It was capped off with a great show from the Remedy.
We added 4 new bee hives in April. While we still have so much to learn, we really enjoy beekeeping. We even attempted a bee removal from a well house. It was a learning experience.
In July we started working with a new winemaker. The wines we released in the fall had the new black label design to reflect the change. We have released the Shamus Rosé, Aged to Reflection and the Montepulciano, all to tremendous compliments along with some awards already too! We still have a Cabernet Sauvignon set to be released in April. Thanks to Dustin Durham with Happy Trails Trucking, we were able to transport the wines safely in a refrigerated trailer during that hot August heat.
Our Woodstock celebration turned out to be the grooviest event of the year! Jim, John & Sharon urged us to plan it, and we’re so glad we did. Sharon was manning the photo booth while Jim & John were co-DJ’s, with non-stop 60’s & 70’s music. Chipster’s Grill was busy serving up some of their delicious BBQ! The place was packed, standing room only, such a great night!!
We are a Cross Country Destination! Since we’ve opened, we’ve been amazed at the number of cross-country visitors we’ve had. Most were coming from Austin, but a good number were coming to visit Lake Brownwood State Park. We’ve had buses, RV’s and campers, all sharing their adventures. The one visit that stood out this year was Bob’s visit because it was on motorcycle. Bob drove up on a Sunday afternoon. Brian noticed him on the patio for a while, so he went to meet him. He recently retired from the military, and was on his way to California from Maryland. Brian invited him inside. We had our usual Sunday crowd who greeted him with open arms. Bob stayed for about 3 hours.
The year hasn’t been a bed of roses (or Rosé). Something that started as a morale booster, ended up embedded in controversy! It was our Employee of the Month competition. It got so bad that we had to temporarily discontinue this recognition incentive. Again, we would appreciate this not discussed at the winery! Thank you Becky for showing support to the EOM runner up!
We’re Bottling Again!
This week we’ll be bottling more Texas wine! The lineup includes a new vintage of our Spirit of Texas Winery Blush as well as two new wines; Welcome White and Spirit of Texas Rose. We will release the wines over the next several weeks.
A few weeks ago we met with the wine maker, Seth Urbanek to make our final changes to wines. We were so happy on how they have all turned out! Here is a little more information on each one:
2018 Spirit of Texas Winery Blush: Our original Blush has been our best seller since opening. We are currently only serving it in tastings. The new 2018 Blush will not disappoint our Blush lovers! It has a wonderful bouquet with a fresh juicy finish.
Valentine’s Day will be extra special this year, because we will be releasing our new Blush on February 14th! Wine Club Members can enjoy one commentary glass of Blush or two half glasses. We’ll happily pour a sample for all guests. Don’t miss out on our 4 hand dipped chocolate covered strawberries for $8, reserve them online.
2018 Spirit of Texas Winery Rose: There will be another pink Texas wine in the tasting room, our new Rose a dry rose with hints of cherry liquor. It was a limited production bottling, so it will only be available in tastings and by the glass. Unfortunately, we will have to limit Bottle purchases to Wine Club members.
2018 Spirit of Texas Winery Welcome White: We have enjoyed learning the history of Brown County. We have tried to reference Texas history in the naming of some of our wines. We thought it was important to add a name with local impact. Welcome Chandler, credited as the first settler in Brown County was also a farmer, county judge, postmaster, and store owner. Our goal with our tasting room has always been to create a welcoming place, so the name Welcome White seemed very appropriate. It’s a dry white with rich freshness and supple fruit notes.
Looking back at 2018
It was an emotional year for us. In April, Brian’s mother passed away and in December our 3rd grandchild was born. With being open every day, it was a long year too. But, 2018 at the Spirit of Texas Winery has been a rewarding year! We are surrounded by some wonderful people that are always there to lift our spirits!
Don’t miss the video below (Looking Back at 2018)
Here are some of the highlights:
- We raised/donated over $12,000 to local charities
- We hosted/organized over 200 events! (Here’s our calendar)
- Our Winery sign blew out
- We hosted many showers (bridal & baby)
- Got a new wine slushie machine
- We attended 7 Wine Festivals, bringing Brown County out to Texas
- Our Winery sign blew out
- We got a tractor (Brian got a tractor)
- We bottled our Rip Roaring Red, our 1st wine with Spirit of Texas Winery on the label!
- Our Winery sign blew over
- We were a stop for a sports car road rally
- We hosted some special birthday parties, anniversaries and family gatherings
- We expanded our parking area to 20,000 sq ft
- Our wines were awarded 6 medals this year
- We had a one-of-a-kind entrance built!
- We had visitors from all over come to visit us
- We were awarded the Best Winery/Wine Bar in Brown County
- We were gifted a big smoker
- We had 50 tons of crushed granite spread in the patio & pavilion area
- We got a ton of rain in Sept-Dec!
- We hosted a bunch of the Pixie Plum & Painting with Friends events
- The Winery sign blew out again
- We had a blast at Corks & Caps
- We started playing live music again!!!
- We were the Early Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year!
- Have we mentioned how many great people have come through our doors?
- We posted a few sunset photos
- We are a Little Free Library location
- We installed the directional signs to our nearest winery neighbors
- Wayne fixed our Winery sign!!!
We are very grateful to everyone that has helped us, cared for us, and prayed for us. We have grown closer as a couple, we have grown closer to this community, and we have grown closer to many of you. Thank you for making 2018 a successful year for us, and please stay with us in 2019, we have some big plans!!!
Enter as Strangers; Leave as Friends!
Brown County has just over 900 businesses according to the Texas Workforce Commission. The Brownwood Municipal Development District website shows that almost 80% of the businesses in Brownwood, TX have fewer than 10 employees. Yet these small businesses are battling every day with big box stores and internet giants like Amazon.
The message from Small Business Saturday is ‘Shop Small.’ There are so many great options here. Restaurants, boutiques, salons, fitness studios and so many more! Many of these businesses know you by name and treat you like family. Need something last minute? You would be surprised to see how many have an online store for you to use 24/7!
What does this mean to you? These business owners are actively involved in the community and they give back to the community. A study from the National Federation of Independent Business shows that over 90 percent, contribute each year to their communities through volunteering, in-kind contributions, and/or direct cash donations. When you shop out-of-town, these retailers have no commitment to Brown County.
Many of these owners are leaders in the community, coaches, volunteers and so on. By shopping local you can “pay it forward” by ensuring that the money stays in Brown County. It creates continuous improvements, which make Brown County a better place to live.
Spirit of Texas Winery has had a goal to focus on giving back. From our monthly Bingo for Charity events to silent auction giveaways and donations, we enjoy supporting our community. We have partnered with some wonderful local non-profits that provide tremendous services to our community. So far this year, we have raised/donated over $9,000 to these local non-profits. We are looking forward to our continued commitment to this community that has supported us during our first 20 months.
Bingo for Charity Night
The best reason to Shop Local? You’re going to feel good knowing that you’re supporting a local entrepreneur and your community! It’s a Win Win for everyone!!
With the first weekend of Texas Wine Month approaching, October is a beautiful month to make plans to visit some Texas Wineries! Spirit of Texas Winery is one of over 430 wineries in Texas and the only one in Brown County. Each one has its own uniqueness, story & beauty. If you haven’t had a chance, you need to start visiting some! The wine industry in Texas employs over 100,000 people and Texas wineries see over 1.7 million visitors per year. So when you buy Texas wines, you’re supporting the Texas economy too!
The most important to know is that you don’t have to be a wine expert to visit a winery. It’s all about finding something you like. On your first visit to a winery or if it’s been over a year, your best option is to try a tasting. A tasting gives you a chance to try some samples of several of their wines. Although many grocery stores, liquor stores and even wine bars are carrying a larger selection of Texas wines, the only way to see all of their wine is by visiting the winery.
You can find a thorough list of Texas wineries at www.uncorktexaswines.com or use The Texas Wine Lovers Map at: www.txwinelover.com. Your first step is to determine where you want to travel. Then look at the wineries along your route. Before you leave is the time for some research. Go to their websites & Facebook pages to see their hours and what they have to offer. Plan an hour or two per winery. The tasting room staff is there to help you learn about the wine and hopefully find something you like. Get ready for a fun adventure and some great memories.
- Be responsible – have a designated driver
- Have an answer to the question, “What kind of wine do you like?” or let them know you’re new to wine tastings
- Do your homework online before your trip
- Bring a valid ID
- Some wineries don’t accept walk-ins, only appointments
- Verify their hours in advance
- Don’t show up with a large group unexpectedly
- Go early, especially on weekends
- Dress comfortably and bring a jacket
- Avoid anything that interferes with your sense of smell (strong perfume)
- Avoid eating/drinking anything that will impact your taste buds (gum / coffee)
- Most wineries are non-smoking
- Bring bottled water
- If it’s hot, bring a cooler to protect your purchases
- Most wineries are family friendly, but make sure you have things to keep the kids busy
- Some wineries allow dogs, check beforehand
- Plan to eat during your trip, some offer food, others allow you to bring food
- Remember it’s a winery, other alcohol is not allowed
How to Taste Wine
- Take your time, enjoy it
- Look at the color
- Swirl & smell it
- Taste it, take a small sip
- Swirl and taste again
- Write your notes
- Cleanse your palate before each wine
At the winery:
- Start at the counter, find out how to get started
- No cell phone use during the tasting
- Consider sharing tastings
- Try new, unfamiliar things
- Don’t be afraid to use dump bucket
- Ask questions, there’s so much to learn
- Most wineries have relaxing atmospheres, be respectful of that
- Take notes, you’ll want to look back at them
- Share your visit on social media
- Leave reviews on Facebook, Yelp, Google & Trip Advisor
- Have fun, it should be a great experience
- Ask the winery for recommendations for your next stop including local restaurants.
- If you like it, buy a bottle or two
- If you really like it, check into their wine club
Some Tasting Terms
- Alcohol percentage: is a standard measure of how much alcohol is contained in a given volume of an alcoholic beverage.
- Aroma: The wine’s total smell, including changes that resulted from oak aging or that occurred in the bottle.
- Appellation: is a legally defined and protected geographical indication used to identify where the grapes for a wine were grown
- DRY: Having no perceptible taste of sugar. Most wine tasters begin to perceive sugar at levels of 0.5 percent to 0.7 percent.
- RESIDUAL SUGAR: Unfermented grape sugar in a finished wine.
- SULFITES: Naturally occurring component produced by the yeast during fermentation. Sulfites are found in nearly all wines.
- VINTAGE DATE: Indicates the year that wine grapes were harvested.
As we get ready to kickoff October and Uncork Texas Wine Month, here is some information about Texas Wine Month! The Texas Department of Agriculture and their Go Texan program are promoting Uncork Texas Wine Month. Clink on the link to find a list of Go Texan wineries. With the weather changing, it’s the perfect time to hit the road and plan your Texas winery tour!
Planning a trip to come see us? Remember you can bring your own food & snacks with you while you’re tasting some of our Texas wine. Looking for something special to eat or do while you’re in town? Let us know, there are some excellent local options!
We expanded our outside area to 5,000 sq. ft., just in time to get outside and enjoy this beautiful fall weather. We are family friendly, dog friendly and Texas Friendly! Come out and play some games on the patio or inside. Of course, you could always come to just relax and unWINEd.
We have a busy October planned! We are constantly adding events, stay up to date by visiting our website’s events or on Facebook or subscribe to our email list.
Oct 6th l Corks & Caps
Oct 11-12th l State Fair of Texas Wine Garden
Oct 13th l Painting with Friends followed by Live Music that night
Oct 20th l McKinney Wine Fest followed by Live Music that night
Oct 21st l Fluid Art Class
Oct 27th l Live Music
Oct 28th l Potluck Sunday
We’re celebrating Texas Wine Month with an offer to save $15 off any two bottles of Spirit of Texas wine! Only one offer per account and the sale is online only, but you can order 24/7 at our online STORE! Sale ends 10-31-18
Since our wines are not in stores, we are always trying new ways to make it easier to get. For a flat fee of $10, we’ll ship anywhere in Texas all October (2 bottle minimum). That’s right, even if you order a case in October, your shipping cost is just $10! Want to save that $10, join our Wine Club and receive free shipping in Texas anytime!
If you’re visiting us, here are some of our neighboring wineries that you can include in your adventure:
- Brennan Vineyards
- Red Wing Dove Winery & Vineyard
- Wedding Oak Winery
- Old Man Scary Cellars
- Silver Spur Winery
- Bluff Dale Vineyards