Messina Hof Grapevine Review
Address: 201 South Main Grapevine,Texas 76051. website
Tasting Hours: Fri-Sat 10:00-10:00, Sun-Thurs 11:00-9:00
Reviewer: Becky Parr
Review Date: 1/31/2015
Reviewer: Becky Parr
Main Street in Grapevine is like the main square in Healdsburg, California a winery on every corner with fun shops and restaurants in between. Unfortunately, I chose a rainy Saturday afternoon to explore it, so there was less exploring and more running in between raindrops to get to my destination!
The destination was worth it, though. Messina Hof Winery has been a staple in the Texas wine world since before I was old enough to drink; it was established in 1983, but it was just December of 2014 when Messina Hof opened an urban tasting room on Main Street in Grapevine. The award winner has come to North Texas!
The Place:  Messina Hof’s Grapevine tasting room is located in the historic Wallis Hotel; the hotel is actually a replica of the original building built on this site in 1891, but I certainly felt like I took a step back in time when I crossed the threshold. The entrance is dominated by a grand staircase that would be perfect for a wedding portrait; the gift shop is on one side and a tasting room on the other.
We were greeted at the door by a Messina Hof employee who directed us toward the bar in the lounge area because the tasting room was a bit full. I thought it was a great touch to have that welcoming presence right there at the door, and we were more than comfortable doing our tasting at the large bar located behind the staircase. Barrels are visible through the windowed wall at the back of the lounge. There are wines on tap set up at this bar, but they weren’t working on the Saturday we visited; apparently they were being moved. The facility had only been open for seven weeks, so I could certainly excuse a few glitches. That was the only one I noticed, and I wouldn’t have noticed it if I hadn’t commented on the “wine on tap” section of the tasting sheet.
The other “place” to mention is the State of Texas overall, because that’s where all Messina Hof’s grapes are grown. They own 900 acres of vineyards, all in Texas, including a large tract near Lubbock in the Texas High Plains AVA, a prime grape-growing territory in Texas.
The People: Messina Hof Grapevine is a well-oiled ship in terms of personnel. They all wear name tags, which I appreciate. We started out with Marcia, who was just delightful, and had no problem with four crazy, slightly damp people (my husband and two friends were with me) peppering her with questions and passing glasses back and forth. She knew which glass was whose when WE didn’t. She told us a lot about the history of the winery the name, for example, comes from the founding couple’s ancestral homes; his family is from Messina, Sicily, and hers is from Hof, Germany. Voilà, Messina Hof. Two different Paul Bonnarigos the 6th and the 7th- have overseen Messina Hof to date and Paul the 8th is an awfully cute kid in the photo on the winery brochure. I sure hope he likes wine when he grows up!
Bill took over for Marcia when it was time for her break, and his pours were just as good as hers. Be prepared for a nice pour at Messina Hof Grapevine!
The Wines:  Messina Hof has a LOT of wines. Even with four of us, we couldn’t come close to tasting them all. We started with whites, of course; the Blanc du Bois is light and refreshing, with a grapefruit nose; the Chardonnay is described as oaked, but is really not oaky; and the Wallis White, which is a Grapevine exclusive, is Chardonnay blended with some Muscadello and is a crisp, summery wine with a hint of sweetness. I found them all pleasant, but none screamed “buy me and take me home.”
We had 16 reds to choose from (16!) including five in the Paulo series, which are considered premium wines and take up two “tastes” of the five purchased. I enjoyed the Steam Engine Red, another Grapevine exclusive, which is a Merlot-Cabernet Sauvignon blend. My friends asked for the Cabernet Franc and swiftly rejected it as being far too oaky before I could even snag a taste. My husband tried the Mourvèdre, which Marcia described as being smoky, like a cigar I tasted it, and it wasn’t my favorite, although I’m not sure I would have identified smoke as the flavor I was getting! The DRZ (Dolcetto / Red Zinfandel) was smooth and pleasant with a hint of sweetness on the finish. I enjoyed that one, but not as much as I liked the Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve. Marcia steered me toward that one as her favorite, and after tasting it, I decided to pay attention to whatever she said her palate is spot on!
We tried two of the Paulo wines and weren’t disappointed. The Primitivo is good, if a bit lighter than expected. The Cabernet Sauvignon was quite good, and my discriminating friends bought a glass for us to pass around and then a bottle to take home. They were impressed.
We tried two of the sparkling wines and reached the conclusion that sparkling wine is not Messina Hof’s forte. The Sparkling Brut was sweeter than we expected it to be. The Sparkling Raspberry, which we expected to be sweet, wasn’t bad, but the nose was terrible! Rest assured it does NOT taste like it smells. Bill heard me say that and acknowledged it he said they didn’t know what caused that nose, but I found that it interferes with the enjoyment of the wine. Bill also said they were going to start using Blanc du Bois to make their sparkling wines in the future, so it will be interesting to go back and taste again once the change has been made.
My husband, being a Port enthusiast, tried the Texas Tawny Port. Marcia told us that no brandy is included in Messina Hof’s Ports, so it doesn’t have a heavy cognac flavor. The nose of the Texas Tawny Port is decidedly amaretto, but it doesn’t taste like amaretto it’s a lighter-flavored Port, quite pleasant, without that tang of brandy. It was a very nice wine.
This was a great stop. The facility is beautiful, the staff is helpful and happy, the wine choices are plentiful, and there are some gems to choose from. It’s definitely an urban winery; this is not a place where you sit on the back porch in the rocker and watch the dog run into the vineyard while you chat with the owner, but it’s a great place to spend a rainy Saturday afternoon.