Pedernales Cellars Review
Address: 2916 Upper Albert Road Stonewall,Texas 78671.
Phone Number: 830-644-2037
Tasting Hours: Mon-Thurs 10:00-5:00, Fri-Sat 10:00-6:00, Sun 12:00-6:00
Region: Texas Hill Country AVA, Texas
Reviewer: Becky Parr
Review Date: 8/22/2015
Reviewer: Becky Parr
Unlike some of the wineries I visit, I had some pre-existing knowledge of Pedernales Cellars. Id heard it mentioned, with positive comments and accolades, in articles about Texas wine, and Id actually had a bottle of Pedernales Tempanillo at III Forks restaurant in Dallas during Restaurant Week, with great satisfaction. So I was excited to visit the winery in Stonewall.
The Place:  We visited on a typical hot and dry August Saturday. My husband and I were in Fredericksburg with another wine-loving couple and a pair visiting from England, so we loaded all six of us into the winemobile and took off toward Pedernales. It was hopping the parking lot was busy, a tour bus was parked out front, and there was live music on the patio! Fortunately, they have a hostess station set up at the front door, and seem to know how to deal with Saturday crowds, so we didnt have to wait.
The facility itself is quite attractive. As mentioned, there is a patio in the front, off to one side of the front door. Inside, a high-ceilinged room with lots of natural light features a large tasting bar in the center, where customers can belly-up for tastings all the way around. There is also a small seating area for wine club members or those opting for the higher-priced tastings which is what we chose, thinking wed be getting Pedernaless premium wines.
The People:  There were several employees pouring in the seated tasting area, and they traded responsibility for different groups quite seamlessly theyre very observant of who has an empty glass! We started with Rick and finished with Tamisha. Both of them are personable, knowledgeable, and excellent representatives of Pedernales. We spent more time with Tamisha than with Rick; she obviously enjoyed what she was pouring and answered questions readily and from a place of strong understanding. We learned that Pedernales sources its grapes entirely from Texas, which is fairly unusual, even for Texas wineries.
The Wines:  Heres where it gets dicey, unfortunately. We were served six wines, two at a time, in a left-glass-right-glass setup. Whoever was pouring mentioned key characteristics of each one and invited certain comparisons between the two. In some cases, there were instructions, such as, Finish all of the first one before you try the second one. I didnt mind that setup, and appreciated the information, but one of the individuals in our party remarked later that he had felt rushed.
The first wine, a 2012 Reserve Viognier, ended up being (by far) my favorite. It won a gold medal in Lyon, France in 2013, so apparently it was someone elses favorite too! Problem was, we were tasting the last bottle. The last one! Okay, Im glad I got to taste it, but knowing there was no possibility of buying it, EVER, was a big disappointment. Poured alongside it was a 2014 Reserve Viognier, presented as the 2012s little brother. I wasnt overly fond of this wine, which was full of grapefruit notes and still very tight.
The next pair was the 2013 Hill Country Tempranillo and the 2012 Newsom Vineyards North Block Syrah-Cabernet-Tempranillo blend. The Hill Country Tempranillo has an excellent nose and drinks light for a Tempranillo. The blend has more fruity sweetness on the nose and hints of leather on the palate. We ended with the Family Reserve 2012, another blend (Syrah, Cabernet, Tempranillo, and Portuguese grape Toriga), and Kuhlken Vineyards Reserve 2012, mostly Tempranillo with a touch of Syrah. The latter was highly tannic, and just didnt have much to it in terms of finish. The Family Reserve was smoother, and we debated what the nose was for a long time, deciding maybe it was white pepper but we really werent sure.
Overall, I was underwhelmed by the reds, which was a big surprise, since Pedernales is known for its Tempranillos, and the one Id had at III Forks was great! An informal poll of my five companions brought the same response. I asked them to rate the reds and the whites on a scale of 1 to 5, and for the reds I got answers of 2.5 and 3, with the comment that 3 was being generous.
The worst thing was the prices. For two different tastings (regular tasting at the bar, higher-end tasting in the seated area) the prices were $15 and $25, respectively. I wish one of us had done the regular tasting maybe thats where the good wine was! but $25 for a tasting of six Texas wines is, in my opinion, excessive. The only other time Ive done a regular (not reserve or by appointment) tasting that expensive, I was in Beverly Hills, California, where everything is expensive. The wine bottle prices are high, too, as much as $60 per bottle for some of the reds. Of course, the only one I would have considered buying was the 2012 Reserve Viognier, which was gone anyway, so the decision not to buy was pretty easy.
The Experience: Obviously, this had its ups and downs. I have no complaints about the location or the people. Ultimately, however, we go wine tasting for the wines, and the wines at Pedernales left us disappointed.
Insiders Tip:  Pedernales, being in Stonewall, is a bit farther away from Fredericksburg than a number of other wineries. Tamisha mentioned that many people start closer to Fredericksburg at the beginning of their tasting day and end up at Pedernales last. If you want to visit, Id recommend doing the opposite; start with Pedernales and its neighbors and work back toward Fredericksburg, and you might avoid some of the crowds.