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We hope you enjoy our story!
To be able to re-open after our second shut down, we had to serve food. We were fortunate that our friend Cody at Diamond R Store & Café helped us get approved and some ideas on what to cook. We had to convert our backroom from a storage area into a kitchen. It took about 2 weeks to get set up. We re-opened for guest on a Friday. Moira & I were working out some kinks but overall it was going well. That was until about 6:00. We were definitely weren’t prepared for everyone that came out to support us that night. We were slow & sold out of almost everything.
It was a long night, plus we never had so many dishes to clean! Moira & I got up early Saturday and prepped some additional appetizers. We were cranking along again, until 6:00 came along. We were still slow and just about selling out of everything again. At one point, both Moira & I were both in the back room, working on food orders. Moira was extremely stressing. I turned to her and said, stop & listen for a second. All you could hear was conversion and laughter. No one was complaining or upset, they were here to support us.
Moira said serving food was like opening another business. There is still a lot of prep and planning involved with it. We were pleased at how many guests have asked that we keep offering food and how much positive feedback we have received.
After re-opening last August and serving food, we got behind on our outside projects/maintenance. So we planned several outdoor projects for 2021. The biggest was mowing & weed control. We even got Lisa’s husband Patrick to help us some.
The first project was expanding our parking lot. Thanks to Meadow Construction, we added an acre of parking for our guests.
Next was just good ole yard maintenance, trimming trees and weeds.
Our neighbor Brian Clark came over with his tractor and prepped the area for our grapevines and lavender field.
And there’s more coming…
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!
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!!
We’re very excited to announce that of our 6 wine entries for the 2018 Lone Star International Wine Competition; we were awarded 6 medals! Our newest wine, Spirit of Texas Rip Roaring Red received silver medals in both the Texas & International competitions. The Texian Red and Republic Red received a bronze in the Texas competition. The Estrella Blanca and the Texian White received silvers in the international competition.
The 2018 Lone Star International Wine Competition is the oldest wine competition in Texas and had over 600 entries. Last year we had 4 wines available and submitted them to the 2017 competition. We received 3 silvers (Blush, Estrella Blanca & Republic Red) and 1 bronze (Texian White). Our Texian White also was awarded a bronze medal at the 2018 Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo Wine Competition. We are looking forward to entering a few more competitions in 2018!
All of our wines are made from 100% Texas grapes. The majority are from the Texas High Plains. We will be planting about 3 acres on our property. This October (11th & 12th) we’ll be in the Wine Garden at the Texas State Fair. We’re a member of the Go Texan program.
We offer free Wine Club shipments in Texas. Our Wine Club ships 3 times per year and you get your choice of our wines. Join our 4, 6 or 12 bottle clubs today!
Everyone has told us the first year would be the hardest, let’s sure hope so! While it was a tough year, it was also very rewarding. We have met SO many wonderful people, which has been our biggest blessing. The sign over our door; “enter as strangers, leave as friends” was a gift from one of our new friends. When we hung it, we didn’t realize how well it applied to Spirit of Texas Winery. We have seen so many people make new friendships during their visit. Our goal was to have a place that everyone feels welcomed, it looks like we’re getting there.
If you’ve been inside, hopefully you’ve had time to look at the photos on the TV screens. It started off with just some pictures of us as we got the place ready to open. It has grown to over 400 photos of our guests and how they have become part of our story! We still look at them every day.
[A Year of Photos]
A Year of Photos
Here’s a year recap in 1000 words, or so:
Our first day of business was Thursday, April 6th, 2017. We were so much busier than we had expected. My brother and his wife drove up from Houston to support us. Our first event was our vine planting party. We planted 400 vines near the highway. Our first project to tackle after opening was installing gutters and rainwater harvesting tanks. It took a couple of weeks before we got rain, but when it did it filled two 2,500 gallon tanks in a matter of hours.
For our joint ribbon cutting (Brownwood and Early Chambers), we were appreciative that staff from Brennan Vineyards and Brian & Kim from the Winery at Willow Creek went out of their way to attend. We held our Grand Opening the following day. Moira’s sister Lisa and her daughter came up from Friendswood, TX to help us and we were surprised to have several family members come out to show their support.
The quote ‘Build it and they will come’ might have worked in the Field of Dreams, but not always here. We have had many days that were just us. We made the most of our downtime by spending it planning and or working outside (and maybe even practicing the hook & ring game). During our first 8 months, we had many people come in on slow days and say ‘we really hope you guys make it.’ That phrase always scared us. One thing that our out-of-town guests have told us, they made their decision to come visit us after reading the positive reviews about us on Facebook, Yelp or Trip Advisor. We greatly appreciate you taking the time to write these reviews.
Many of you know that we have bees. We added 3 hives in 2017. They have been a fun diversion. Our winery dogs have become pretty popular too. Lily is our lover and Gunner is our hello and he’s off greeter. Our seasonal attraction is the hummingbirds. They are fascinating to watch.
In September our highway signs were finally installed. One of our challenges this first year was dealing with the road construction. There have been several days that traffic has been re-routed, diverting it completely away from our stretch of the highway. It was the perfect photo opportunity to set up a table & chairs in the middle of the highway while enjoying a glass of wine.
In October we built and bought some Patio Games. We have a fun collection: checkers, tic/tac/toe, giant Jenga, 2 bag toss games, giant connect 4 and washers. The games have been a great way to bring families and friends together. Hearing the laughter, the competitive spirits, and the even the crashing of the Jenga game makes us happy.
Our event schedule started ramping up in the fall, trying a little of everything. The Pixie Plum has been a frequent favorite, as well as Brownwood Arts Muse & Merlot, our Sip & Shops, and many others. We are always trying to have some fun things going on at the winery that are open to everyone. You can easily follow our event schedule either on Facebook or our website. Here are some of the upcoming events: National Wine Day, Pixie Plum Round Door Hanger Sign Painting, Potluck Sunday (really fun), National Leave The Office Early Day, Best Friends Day, Yoga at the Winery, Nacho Ordinary Father’s Day, It’s National Selfie Day & Painting with Friends.
We continue to work hard to get this small winery exposure throughout the state by attending several well-known wine festivals. Our first festival was the Brady Goat Cook-off and Wine Fest. What a great learning experience. Some others were: Midlothian, Georgetown, San Saba, Hamilton, United Estates in Florence, Taylor and Brownwood’s own Corks & Caps!!! We would not be able to have pulled these off without the help of many volunteers.
The community has really embraced us. In 2017 we had several charitable events. In 2018 we decided to make a concentrated effort to give back to the community! Our goal is to support local non-profit organizations. We have accomplished this by having our monthly Bingo for Charity events. Each month a non-profit is selected and receives 100% of the bingo card sales. As of May 20th, 2018, we have raised/donated over $5,000 for the year!
Brian got a tractor (nuff said)!
In March of 2018, we were excited to begin a relationship with Sarimah and Todd at the Harvest Restaurant! The Harvest is located in Comanche and is an excellent restaurant that works with local farmers to provide unique menu with delicious food. We were thrilled that they asked to carry some of our wines. The Harvest is currently the only place that you can purchase Spirit of Texas wines outside of our tasting room!
It seems that word has gotten out that we’re a new place to host get-togethers. . This year we have hosted a number of baby/bridal showers, anniversaries, birthday parties, retirement celebrations, work gatherings and reunions. We were delighted to host 2 events that seated over 60 and utilized local caterers.
We are working hard to meet our customers’ needs. Our new Frozen Machine has been a big hit especially with hot Texas weather. We have enjoyed gradually adding unique gift items that fit our style. In April we added a new wine, Rip Roaring Red. It’s our first wine with Spirit of Texas Winery on the label! Although it’s only been available for a month, we have been delighted with the positive comments.
Rip Roaring Red
We are a ‘work in progress.’ Our project list continues to grow faster than we can keep up with! Expanding our parking area was a high priority. There were several occasions that we had to delay opening because we worried that our customers would get stuck. It’s so nice and a huge relief too.
A special thank you goes out to those that have become part of our Founder’s Club. Joining our Founder’s Club includes an $800 investment with an annual $100 renewal. The benefits include your name on our Founder’s plaque, a glass of wine per day, 25% off all wine & merchandise and more. Being on a tight budget, we’re trying to save money for our improvement projects; new entrance, landscaping, cement patio & pavilion, vineyard site prep and back patio area (pergola, fire pit & stonework).
Our neighbor stopped by last week and gave us a sign to hang. We just loved the saying and thought it would be perfect for our entrance. I quickly hung it while Sandra was still here.
Before we started construction earlier this year, we knew that we wanted a place that was relaxing, not intimidating or stuffy in any way. Being able to use so much reclaimed materials that were on the property (wood & tin) to build out our tasting room, gave it a truly rustic Texas charm. Many guests are surprised on their first visit to discover a tasting room that is so warm and inviting. We often hear: ‘Wow this is nice’ and ‘The pictures don’t do it justice.’ As much as we appreciate those kind words, there’s nothing we enjoy more than the sound of laughter as friends enjoy time together.
The Enter As Strangers Leave As Friends sign hangs over the only entrance to the tasting room, so we notice it several times per day. The more we looked at it, the more the saying resonated with us! The majority of the time, Moira and I are able to visit with everyone that stops by. We really look forward to being able to talk with all of our guests. We are humbled by how many know our story before they arrive. Just this past Sunday we had a couple of groups enjoying themselves in the tasting room. It wasn’t long before people that had never met were visiting and sharing stories.
We have had many challenges since we started this venture and we realize there are many obstacles ahead but they all worth it when you look at the new relationships we’ve made! If you haven’t come to see us yet, we hope you plan a trip. We think you’ll enjoy it and that you’ll leave as a Friend!
On about 5:00 pm on March 1st, we were told we had a trademark issue with another Texas winery. This news came just weeks before opening and just after bottling 4 out of our first 5 wines! The winery was very understanding and is allowing us to sell out of our remaining product including our May bottling.
It definitely came as a surprise and took a little wind out of our sails. That’s when Moira came up with our new name, Spirit of Texas Winery. So we looked into it further, here are some definitions of Spirit that really resonated with us:
- the principle of conscious life; the vital principle in humans, animating the body or mediating between body and soul.
- the thinking, motivating, feeling part of a person.
- a pervading animating principle, essential or characteristic quality, or prevailing tendency or attitude.
- real meaning; true intention.
- the fundamental, emotional, and activating principle of a person; will.
- vivacity, courage, vigor, enthusiasm, etc.
- the influence of God or divine things upon the soul.
There have been many days in these past 9 months that have really tested our Spirit. There were some long, hard, and stressful days as Moira and I worked to complete the build out of the tasting room. We have put our blood, sweat and even tears into this endeavor. It wasn’t until after we opened that we realized what we had created. Although it’s only been 6 weeks, we have met so many wonderful people. We have had the opportunity to share the story of our journey. It is heartwarming to know that so many of you are a part of our ongoing story.
I am a believer that most things happen for a reason. We are excited about our new name; Spirit of Texas Winery!
My buddy Arthur Serrano has been trying to make it down to see us. He sold his business a few years ago and had planned to retire. He has been so busy these past few years, I hardly see him. One of his ventures is a charter fishing company, Hot Spot Fishing Charters (follow him on Facebook), based out of Port Aransas, TX. As he’s trying to keep his many projects going, he has been watching our progress on Facebook. When he saw the work Vince did, he called and told me he wanted to build us a ‘bad @ss bar’! I again said, come on down!
When he arrived on Tuesday afternoon, he quickly went to work. After assessing the room and the materials we had available, he wanted to use the 3 old cabinets that were in the building. We moved them around a few times until he saw the layout he liked. While we were looking at the design, I mentioned the old aluminum boat that was near our stock tank. I had wanted to stand the boat on its transom and make a wine rack out of it. He immediately wanted to look at it. After seeing it, he was determined to use it. It was too tall to stand, so we rolled in two wine barrels and placed the boat on its side. That was it! We went to Home Depot to buy some parts and had the boat mounted on the wall within 2 hours of him being here.
Seven days later, Arthur left his mark on our tasting room. Everything built in the tasting room was from materials on the property when we bought it. We have the coolest focal point, a beautiful barn-wood bar and an impressive wine barrel display rack. There is about 31’ of bar space and we’ll be able to store over 1,500 bottles in the shelving he built. There were some long days, great laughs and a chance to spend some quality time together. Moira & I will be spending most of our days around the bar that Arthur built. We are truly blessed with the people that God has placed in our lives.