Address: 228 Wagner Road Saint Jo,Texas 76265.
Phone Number: 214-536-6330
Tasting Hours: Thurs-Fri 12:00-6:30, Sat 11:00-6:30, Sun 12:00-5:00
Reviewer: Becky Parr
Review Date: 8/12/2013
Reviewer: Becky Parr
When my fiancé was a kid, his grandfather lived in St. Jo, Texas. My fathers family is from the same region of Texas, the Wichita Falls area, but even I had never heard of St. Jo. Imagine my surprise when I learned that one of Texas’ 190+ wineries is located six miles outside of St. Jo!
Of course I had to go check it out.
The Place:  If you are driving down the highway and you blink, you might miss St. Jo. Fortunately we didnt. GPS and recent maps are actually pretty helpful at getting you to Arché Winery, although our Garmin did ask us to make some rather interesting turns in the little town itself. The winery is right off 677, and well marked, so it really wasnt that hard to find among the Texas county roads.
Arché Winery makes a pretty picture driving in on Wagner Road. From a distance, it looks like a barn in the midst of a vineyard. Getting closer, I noticed that the buildings were a bit smaller than Id assumed from a distance, but the vineyards were more beautiful. Arché has channeled tradition from California by planting rosebushes at the ends of some of the rows of grapes.
The tasting room is very small. One might call it tiny. The Arché website says it will seat 15, but if you bring a group of 15, youd all better like each other. In my opinion, this really isnt a tasting room where you want to go linger and have a bottle. However, wandering around the grounds with your glass and seeing the winemaking facilities is a good alternative. It was June and pretty hot when we visited, but during cooler weather, I could certainly see enjoying a glass outside.
The People:  The highlight of the trip to Arché was the tour, conducted by Howard, co-owner of the winery with his wife Amy. Howard is a former engineer who used his retirement savings to finance his dream of opening and operating a winery in Texas. He led us on a tour of the vineyards and the winemaking and bottling facility, providing lots of insight into how they keep the vines hydrated in Texas extremely hot weather and their harvesting processes. On the day we visited, Howard led the entire tour with an aching back, and was such a trooper! I felt sorry for him, but he hung in there and gave us a lot of information.
The Wines:  During the tasting, Howard led us through the different Arché wines and their similarities to some of the wines grown in different regions of France. Arché strives to grow grapes and make wine varietals similar to those produced in France and Italy. We grow French wine, Howard said and they are trying to figure out how to grow Dolcetto, in the Italian tradition.
We started our tasting with the Rousanne, which ended up being my favorite. Howard called it the red drinkers white, and I guess I proved his point, since Im more a red drinker than a white drinker.
The Cabernet Sauvignon surprised me too. I am accustomed to the Cabernet being the boldest of the red wines, and at the bottom of the tasting list. In hot climates such as St. Jos, however, Cabernet Sauvignon grapes dont develop the dark fruit taste as much. They turn out lighter, more like a traditional Pinot Noir, with more strawberry and raspberry flavors.
The Syrah was bigger and smoother, with more of a tannic finish, and my favorite of the red wines. The Yellow Rose, Archés sweet wine, was not as sweet as I expected, but it seemed to get sweeter on the finish.
The Experience:  If youre going to visit Arché, take the tour. Howard is very knowledgeable and obviously passionate about what he does, and its the best part of the experience. If its nice weather, I could see having a glass or a bottle outside, but claustrophobic little me did not find the tasting room comfortable with the number of people who were inside.
Insiders Tip:  Apparently there is a wood-fired pizza place called Ancient Ovens not far from Arché Winery, and occasionally they do events together!