Sunset Winery Review
Address: 1535 South Burleson Boulevard Burleson,Texas 76028.
Phone Number: 817-426-1141
Tasting Hours: Thurs-Sun 12:00-7:00 and by appt. (Jan-Feb open until 6:00 and by appt.)
Reviewer: Becky Parr
Review Date: 1/26/2013
Reviewer: Becky Parr
The Best Little Wine House in Texas thats what Bruce and Birgit Anderson call their unexpected, quirky winery located literally steps from northbound I-35W in Burleson, Texas. Besides being a clever play on the name of a famous movie, its definitely a little house where they make wine, so its a pretty good descriptor. Whatever its called, its definitely worth the short detour off the road well traveled.
The Experience: There isnt a lot of vista-type scenery in Burleson, so its the people, the wines, and the story of Sunset Winery that make a visit here a fun and noteworthy experience. Driving up to Sunset Winery, at first it looks like just another house originally, it WAS actually a private residence, when I-35W was a two-lane highway. Fortunately the big signs and the neon OPEN sign give a good clue that now this place houses a family of grapes and barrels rather than a single family. Once you get through the front door, youre in a bit of a different world.
The tasting room is just inside the front door in a small room that was probably a small living area in the original house. Upon entrance, we were greeted by two winery employees who gave us some hot mulled wine that was pretty tasty (even though I dont enjoy almonds floating in my cup) and registered us for the tour we had booked. Sunset Winery offers 5 tastings for $6 and a tour for $10. A pre-scheduled VIP tour is $20 a person and includes a sit-down tasting. Thats what we did (there were four of us) and I highly recommend taking the tour if you have some time.
The Place: Out on the houses back deck, we were provided an overview of the property; the view is really the only unfortunate thing about the place, with the highway to the front of the winery and a subdivision to the rear. The property itself includes an out-building where aging barrels are stored and small events can be held, the small vineyard, the house of course, and a stainless pneumatic wine press appropriately named Lucy. Sunset Winery also holds an event once a year where patrons have the opportunity to stomp grapes, just like Lucy did in the famous I Love Lucy episode.
The tour also includes the areas of the house that have been refurbished for winemaking and storage, including the barrel room (two former bedrooms) and the kitchen area, which is still a kitchen, it just has a few extra appliances like the bottling and corking machines. Birgit Anderson is very concerned about cleanliness, and she was proud to demonstrate the corking machine which allows the bottles to be corked without anyone ever touching the corks.
The People:  Bruce and Birgit Anderson are obviously the heart, soul, and drive of Sunset Winery. Birgit led our tour, so we got to know her much better than Bruce; a former tax accountant. It was originally Birgit’s idea to get involved in the wine industry after a trip to northern California. She is a great storyteller with a fantastic, dry sense of humor. She told us all about how the little house in Burleson was transformed into a winery, including the (amusing now, but probably devastating then) stories of a few false starts before the winery really took off. She also expressed a particular fondness for Cabernet Sauvignon, and said shes not a sweet wine fan, which certainly appealed to my similar tastes. Winemakers tend to really concentrate on wines they like, so this admission made me REALLY look forward to Sunsets Cabernet!
The Wines:  I was not disappointed. Our group tasted 15, count em 15, wines. We started with the two wines Bruce and Birgit make from acai berries, which I had never seen done before. I didnt expect much, but I was pleasantly surprised; there are two varietals, dry and sweet, and theyre both pretty good. Then there were four whites, including a Pinot Gris and two Chardonnays, all of which I enjoyed; additionally, they offered a wine called Tango Rose, a rosé style wine made from Malbec grapes, which was dry in spite of its pink color and unexpectedly nice.
Then we got to the dry reds, which made our little end of the table very happy. Our favorites were the Moon Glow Merlot, the Sunray Cabernet Sauvignon, and the Vintners Select blend of three varietals. The Malbec, although award-winning, wasnt our favorite. I thought its bouquet was a bit reminiscent of mothballs, which was unfortunate. A fun little extra that Bruce and Birgit offer with the VIP tour is a custom label; we got ours put on the Sunray cabernet and happily took a bottle home.
Birgit may not like sweet wines, but she knows her audience, so Sunset has several sweet wines to offer. The Pink Rainbows (named by their granddaughter) is only lightly sweet, but the Redhead, Santas Special, and Orange Muscat are definitely for sweet-wine lovers. Being a redhead myself, that made me a bit sad, but redheads who like sweet wine will be happy! Then there is the Burleson Harbor, a port-style wine that they said they cant call port officially since its not made in Portugal, but its called Harbor because harbor and port can be synonyms. The writer in me liked the play on words, and my boyfriend and I both liked the wine. He loves port-style wines, so a bottle of Harbor came home with us, too as did one of the Chardonnays.
Insider’s Tip:  Sunset Winery offers a fairly unique wine club. There is no fee to join, and you get to choose the three wines you receive on three occasions throughout the year. Wine club members are also entitled to a discount on purchases, a free tour for eight quarterly ($320 value wow!) and one free tasting for six, also quarterly.
Sunset Winery, its people and its wines, are well worth a visit.