Grape Creek Vineyards Review
Address: 10587 East Highway 290 Fredericksburg,Texas 78624.
Phone Number: 830-644-2710
Tasting Hours: Mon-Fri 11:00-6:00, Sat 10:00-6:00, Sun 11:00-5:00
Region: Texas Hill Country AVA, Texas
Reviewer: Becky Parr
Review Date: 8/22/2015
Reviewer: Becky Parr
With more than 45 wineries near Fredericksburg, and more “coming soon,” it takes a bit of effort for one winery to stand out among the crowd. Grape Creek Vineyards distinguishes itself in a number of ways: its old-world-feel facility, its highly informative website, and best of all, its excellent wines.
The Place:  The entrance to Grape Creek is marked by a brick tower that bears its name and seems to guard the grapevines like a sentry. Driving in, you take a meandering road that winds around the vineyards and culminates in a parking lot, which was remarkably busy on the hot Saturday afternoon when we visited. The grounds feel large and sprawling; Grape Creek’s slogan is “Tuscany in Texas,” and the location does have a Tuscan look and feel about it. There is a large outdoor patio; on the day we visited, there was a guitarist and singer providing live music, and a lot of people were sitting outside and enjoying the show despite the heat. There is a separate covered pavilion set aside for wine club members; this is one winery where membership definitely has its privileges.
The People:  Grape Creek is well staffed and prepared for a busy Saturday afternoon of wine tasters. We were greeted as we approached from the parking lot and asked if we wanted to do a tour or a tasting. We opted for the tasting and were directed inside a spacious, high-ceilinged room with tasting counters along two walls, with staff stationed appropriately behind the counters. Pay for your tasting first, and you’re given a glass; wine club members’ glasses look different, and as we soon learned, there are several wines that ONLY wine club members are allowed to buy and taste. Fortunately, there are plenty more to choose from.
We worked with Mary, who was a soft-spoken sweetheart who graciously put up with six rambunctious wine lovers who passed tasting glasses back and forth so much, it’s a wonder she could keep up with whose glass was where! She provided us with extra literature (very professionally done) on the wine club; Stouts, Grape Creek’s trattoria; and Heath Vineyards, a partner winery located in the Paso Robles region of California.
The Wines:  As mentioned, Grape Creek is unapologetically a wine-club-based winery. That seems to be their desired model, and they really take care of their wine club members, offering discounts, waived tasting fees, discounted or free shipping, parties, and access to their own spaces and facilities. Still, even without the three members-only wines, and two additional wines unavailable, we still had 13 wines to choose from. No one in our party likes sweet wines, so it was easy to narrow it down to nine, but with six tastes per person, we were still passing samples back and forth.
My (actually everyone’s) favorite of the whites was the 2014 Pinot Grigio. I actually hadn’t chosen this one for my own tasting, but one of my companions quickly thrust the glass under my nose and said “TASTE THIS!!” So I did and it was lovely. It is crisp, with tropical fruit and citrus. Among three couples, we bought at least three bottles and went through two of them with pre-dinner snacks that very evening. I wasn’t as fond of the Cuvee Blanc, which I found to be a bit acidic for my taste. Mary referred to the Viognier as their white for red drinkers, but it had a bit too much pear and green apple for me.
Where we hit the jackpot was the reds. We tried six (they were out of Petite Sirah) and not a single one was a disappointment. Their Rendezvous is a blend of three Rhone Valley red varieties (Mourvedre, Syrah, and Cinsault) plus some Viognier. It makes for a smooth, easy-to-drink wine. My favorite turned out to be the Cabernet Trois; as the name suggests, it’s a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Ruby Cabernet. I just wrote “wow!” in my tasting notes, and then promptly bought a bottle.
Our (rather picky) Scottish friend preferred the Cabernet/Syrah, which won a Best of Class award at the 2014 San Francisco International Wine Competition. It was darker than what we had been tasting, with a lot of dark fruit. The Bellissimo, a Super Tuscan, is Grape Creek’s most popular dry red. The Mosaic is a BIG blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc a little too tannic for my taste, but still good.
The Experience:  This was our favorite winery of the day, hands down. The facility reminded me of some of our best wine tastings in Napa and Sonoma, particularly V. Sattui, which also brings a Tuscan feel to its buildings and grounds. It’s well kept, well-staffed, and comfortable; the winery has a clear direction in what it’s doing and offers some real gems when it comes to the wine.
Insider’s Tip:  If you visit Grape Creek, make sure you go past the initial tasting room building to see the gift shop, which is HUGE, and has many food items in addition to the usual wine swag. There’s a tasting counter in there, too, but I was glad we’d done the tasting up front the gift shop felt a little too chaotic and noisy for a wine tasting. As a gift shop, though, it was really fun to explore!