Landon Winery Review
Address: 101 North Kentucky Street McKinney,Texas 75069.
Phone Number: 972-542-3030
Tasting Hours: Mon-Thurs 11:00-9:00, Fri 11:00-11:00, Sat 10:00-11:00 pm, Sun 12:00-9:00
Reviewer: Becky Parr
Review Date: 5/22/2013
Reviewer: Becky Parr
The courthouse square in McKinney, Texas, has the same old-fashioned, welcoming, small-town atmosphere of many courthouse squares in Texas; antique and curio shops, fine and casual dining, and local watering holes. McKinneys, however, is the only courthouse square with the good fortune to have Landon Winery on its southwest corner.
The Experience:  I have to confess that I discovered Landon Winery four or five years ago, so I had knowledge of its presence and its wines long before I started writing for American Winery Guide. However, I wanted to be able to present an authentic tasting experience in my review, so my solution was to take along a companion who hadnt yet had the pleasure of visiting Landon.
So I recruited my mom and our canasta group!
Usually my reviews offer either two or four sources of opinion, depending on whether Im with my fiancé, with my best friend, or on a double date. But this time, instead of two or four, you get eight. I lined them up at the tasting bar and said GO!
The Place:  Landon Winery is housed in a building that was rebuilt in 1900 following a fire on the square. The winery itself was built in 2005; during construction, they found a well under the floorboards. Wishing to preserve the historical integrity of the site, they kept the well; its now in the barrel room, a little bit of 1850 in present-day McKinney.
The winery has a large seating area on the patio. Its the perfect spot to sit on a warm evening or pleasant afternoon and watch the shopping traffic go by on the square. Its a popular tourist area, so you may have to hunt for a parking space, but McKinney has a lot of parking on the street and in designated lots a block or so off the square. If you visit the winery on a Saturday night, youll likely have a bit of a hunt for a seat, especially if they have live music which they usually do on weekend evenings.
Its worth mentioning that the McKinney square offers fun shops for browsing and shopping, and some good restaurants. My group walked over to the winery after a meal of tapas on a patio about a block away.
The People:  My gaggle of ladies visited Landon on a Wednesday evening, which might not seem like prime time for a winery but it was beautiful weather, and a number of patrons had chosen to take advantage of the patio. Since we were doing tastings, we lined up inside the open front door at the tasting bar.
Minding the bar that evening was Randall and his big smile. Far from being fazed at the sudden appearance of eight women, he grinned and joked and passed menus and demonstrated that he really knows and loves Landon wines. He mentioned some of the award winners I was bummed that a couple of them were only available by the bottle and therefore not on the tasting menu and gave effective, accessible descriptions, like biting into a cold sweet peach on a hot day.
Several of the ladies in my group commented on Randalls amazing capability to hear what everyone was saying and asking for, even if his back was turned. No sooner did one of the girls say, I think Id like to try the Pinot Noir than Randall was right there, pinot bottle in hand, pouring it into the correct glass and telling us how light and drinkable it was. This guy is a pro! No one had to wait for anything, in spite of the fact that there were eight of us ordering at once, and he wore an infectious grin the entire time. His wine pours, too, were quite ample.
Having hung around the winery for a while, I learned that many of the winery wait and bar staff are patrons of Landon Winery who enjoy it so much they decided to get involved and hang out behind the bar as well as in front of it.
The Wines:  Landon offers a wide selection of wines, so it appeals to the well-winery-traveled red drinkers, those who prefer something sweeter, and those new to wine who might not have quite decided what they like yet. Among my favorites are the Texan (it used to be called Super Texan, but apparently there was a dispute over the name with another winery, and Landon said they could keep the better name but Landon would keep the better wine!!!!), the Amarone, and the Cabernets. I tend to like the smoother reds and the drier whites, such as the Chardonnay, but I am also very fond of Landons award-winning sparkling wine. The sparkling has a hint of sweetness, but less so than most prosecco but its not overly dry either, so it appeals to just about everyone. My mom loves it; she gets bubbly at the mere mention of Landon sparkling, and theres a bottle in her fridge thanks to the night in question!
My group included a diverse variety of white wine and red wine drinkers, which I thought was a plus. We tasted nearly everything Randall had. Landons Yellow Rose, which is a sweet wine good for drinking by the pool in the summer, predictably went over very well. The Riesling was also a hit. I tried the Pinot Grigio and found it a little too light for my taste; I think my companions agreed. It just didnt taste like much.
As we moved to the reds, we made at least one convert from the usually-white-wine-only lovers when one of the girls tasted the Pinot Noir. She bought a bottle to take home! It was about that time another couple of friends came in, bringing my entourage to 10, and they headed straight for the Tempranillo, which they gave a ringing endorsement.
I think we had the most fun when we got to the dessert wines. Landon makes a tawny port called Grand Finale that was almost a universal hit with the group. The Chocolate Finale has been the pride of the winery for long enough that its won a slew of awards; I think it tastes like what a rich chocolate-liqueur truffle would be if it was in liquid form. I love it. Then theres the Orange Muscat, which one of the ladies described as nectar.
If I have any criticism of Landons wines, its some of the prices. My favorite Texan is unfortunately $50 a bottle, which is usually out of my price range. The ports and some of the reserve wines are in the same price range. So I usually have to limit my consumption to a glass on the premises, and I take home something else. The sparkling is $20, though, which Im more than willing to pay!
Insiders Tip:  First, if you ever have the chance to go to a wine pairing or any kind of sit-down fundraiser at Landon, GO. The presentation is informative and entertaining, and the wine pours are very, very generous.
In addition to the longstanding cheese platter offering, the winery has recently added hummus to its menu, and patrons have the option of ordering food for delivery to the winery from area restaurants. For those not as keen on wine, they have wine-a-ritas and sangria made in-house.
The wine club is a good deal; buying at the bimonthly rate is generally a good deal per bottle, and club members get 20% off all wine, products, and events.