Big Rock Winery Review
Address: 106 PR 1381 Lakeside Villiage,Texas 76671.
Phone Number: 817-202-5212
Tasting Hours: Thurs 5:00-9:00, Sat 12:00-11:00, Sun 12:00-6:00
Reviewer: Becky Parr
Review Date: 7/9/2016
Reviewer: Becky Parr
Let the wine connoisseur beware visiting Big Rock Winery is more like visiting a mad scientists working laboratory than it is like visiting a conventional tasting room. Fortunately, the mad scientist is a highly engaging guy and is really enthusiastic about and invested in his wine, so its still an enjoyable experience.
The winemaking facility is adjacent to the owners home, in a catch-all building; it serves as barrel room, tasting room, occasional event space, and undoubtedly also the blending room when it comes time to make those decisions. (Bottling seems to be out back.) Theres a long counter/bar down the center of the room; patrons can sit on one side and pourers can stand on the other. There are still decorations hanging from the ceiling that were placed there for the 2016 Valentines Day dinner (we visited in July); apparently they seated 20 people in this space for the dinner, which I had a little trouble imagining. Its a small space!
Its a bit of an adventure getting to the winery, too. Id advise NOT trusting GPS. Fortunately, our Garmin got us close enough that we spotted some handmade signs which pointed us in the right direction. Apparently, theres an easier way of finding the place, so call before you go!
The main attraction of Big Rock Winery is its owner, Rick Watkins. We also met Ricks wife, Gail, who is lovely (and painted some pictures for the walls of the tasting room), but its clear that Rick is the entertainment arm of this establishment. Retired from Lockheed, hes close to completing a certification program in viticulture at Texas Tech, and he throws his heart, soul, and energy into his wines. He talks a mile a minute, but hes engaging, and its clear he has a solid knowledge base in winemaking, plus a decent palate and a great deal of drive and commitment. He also pours a healthy taste, so pace yourself!
Some of the wines I liked, some I didnt, which is pretty typical for any tasting. We tried the cabernet and the cabernet franc, which were okay if a little thin I think they might benefit from some aging. This is a young winery, only opened in 2015, and sometimes I think it takes a while for a young winery to master the touch of making the big red wines. I enjoyed the chardonnay and ended up buying a bottle. The moscato, as is typical, was too sweet for me, but my husband tried it and had a favorable opinion. He said it wasnt syrupy sweet and tasted of the varietal, rather than like candy, which some sweet wines do. We also tasted a viognier that had a little bit of effervescence to it when we mentioned it, Rick said that particular batch had gotten too warm in transport and he hadnt gotten around to bottling more. I think it might have been a fairly good viognier if it hadnt gotten ruined by the heat. If it were me, I wouldnt have served it to patrons but my husband commented that he thought Rick might have had us taste it just as kind of a lark, and to give us the whole experience.
The best part (and heres where the mad scientist comes in) was when we tasted the red blend. I liked it, to start, but I liked it even better when Rick turned around to one of his stainless barrels and added a swig of THAT wine into the red blend for me! (I think it was syrah in that barrel, but I confess I cant remember for sure!) That was cool I instantly had my very own red blend. Even cooler, Rick bottled the mix for me, and I brought it home. I dont think Ill let it sit very long, just in case it ages differently in the bottle. It was unconventional, but a very neat experience.
One thing I noticed in preparing for my winery trip is that Big Rock doesnt list its wines on its website. It advertises tours, events, tastings, and the wine club, but I couldnt find a list of wines anywhere. I dont know if this is because the wines change frequently or for some other reason, but I found it a bit odd.
Should you go to Big Rock? Well, that depends. If youre looking for a fancy tasting room with a formal wine list and all its ducks in a row, this is not the place for you. If you want to learn more about the wine making process, Im sure Rick would be happy to share. Hes certainly an enjoyable guy to sit and talk with over a glass of wine.