Westcave Cellars Winery Review
Address: 25711 Hamilton Pool Road Round Mountain,Texas 78663.
Phone Number: 512-431-1403
Tasting Hours: Mon, Fri-Sat 11:00-6:00, Sun 12:00-6:00 and by appt.
Region: Texas Hill Country AVA, Texas
Reviewer: Becky Parr
Review Date: 9/4/2013
Reviewer: Becky Parr
It was a typical blistering central Texas day when we drove into Westcave Cellars. I noticed two things immediately; the sparkling streamers on the grapevines, which I later learned served as bird deterrents, and the presence of farm equipment, which indicated to me that they were harvesting. Whew, I thought, better them than me!
The Place:  Fortunately, the tasting room was nice and cool. There are several rooms on the Westcave property, including a structure next door to the tasting room that might be a residence complete with second-floor balcony doors that lead nowhere, given the absence of a veranda. It was one of the first things we, the tasting pourer, and the other couple in attendance laughed about together. It made for a pleasant camaraderie in the air-conditioned tasting room atmosphere on a hot afternoon. Theres also a gift shop to browse and windows that let you peek into the barrel room. Outdoors is a large open area that would be ideal for a concert on a spring or fall evening.
The People:  We were lucky enough to meet both Allan and Margaret, the owners and operators of Westcave Cellars. Margaret was the unlucky one who was working the tractor and just passed through to say hi. Allan stayed a bit longer and discussed the difficulties of growing cabernet grapes in Texas. Its difficult, but unlike some things other Texas wineries had led us to believe, its not impossible.
Behind the counter was Brian, who did a good job of bouncing between two couples who were doing tastings and facilitating conversation all around. Obviously, he knows his wine and gave us some valuable insight as to how tasting notes are authored, at least at this facility Westcave hires a sommelier to come in and give an unbiased opinion of all their wines. Brian mentioned several that probably need to be re-tasted because the wine has aged and changed in the few months since the sommelier visited.
The Wines:  We spent a lot of time tasting and talking wine with Brian. As usual, we each ordered different wines to taste and passed them back and forth, and as usual, we didnt always agree! Of the whites, we tasted the Chenin Blanc, Vermentino, Chardonnay, and Viognier. I preferred the Vermentino to the Chenin Blanc, which was very light; the Vermentino, to me, was more reminiscent of a Sauvignon Blanc. The unoaked Chardonnay tasted of lemons but our favorite was the Viognier, which had a nice finish and had strong notes of green apple.
Of the reds, we had Ruby Cabernet, Syrah, Merlot, and two years of Estate Cabernet. We started with the Ruby Cab, which wasnt my favorite, but I could see its appeal in a Texas summer, being a bit lighter. The Merlot was darker, tannic, more robust. I enjoyed the Syrah and think itll be really excellent in six months to a year. There was some debate, involving us and the other couple, as to whether the Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 or 2011 was the better wine. They were both good, but I think the 2011 won. It needs to age a bit, but even now its really good when Margaret came in and offered us a free extra taste so we could take a photo with wine in our glasses, thats the one I jumped on.
The Experience:  This is a place I would return to, and bring friends. If there was a concert opportunity on a cool afternoon or evening, it would be ideal, with a picnic basket and a bottle (or several) of the Westcave wines. There was a performer on the day we visited, but only a sparse few people in attendance it was just too hot. Another 10 or 15 degrees cooler, and it would have been ideal. Its a fun place to go and drink and talk wine with team members like Brian. This is an excellent stop on a tour of Austin-area wineries.
Insiders Tip:  This was the first place ever where the patrons offered us the chance to wander through the vineyards and taste the grapes right off the vine. We didnt do it too hot, and we didnt want to be in the way of the harvest but still, it was a great offer. Also, the gift shop has wineglasses inside thermal cups that can keep your wine cool outdoors in hot weather. I was tempted to buy one for Shakespeare in the Park!