Winery on the Gruene Review
Address: 1308 Gruene Road New Braunfels,Texas 78130.
Phone Number: 830-608-1976
Tasting Hours: Mon-Sat 11:00-7:00, Sun 12:00-7:00
Region: Texas Hill Country AVA, Texas
Reviewer: Becky Parr
Review Date: 11/15/2013
Reviewer: Becky Parr
We decided to visit Winery on the Gruene on the way back to Dallas from San Antonio. We were looking for a winery near I-35, and according to the AmericanWineryGuide.com map of Texas wineries, Winery on the Gruene fit the bill. It didn’t dawn on me until we drove into town that I knew where we were the main tourist road in Gruene, the one we drive down to pick up the inflated rings (Toobs) when we go floating on the Guadalupe during the summer. This was October, but there were still a LOT of cars.
The Place:  Fortunately the winery has its own parking lot! I was pleased I had been afraid parking would be both challenging and expensive. It was a beautiful day, so I wished they had a tasting bar set up out front in their patio area, but they didn’t.
It was a Sunday afternoon, so it was pretty crowded and there wasn’t a place at the tasting counter. Fortunately, guests have the option of sitting at a table (chairs and tables made out of wine barrels, VERY cool) and having servers bring tastes as them as they order them. So that’s what we did.
The People:  Several servers brought us tastes, but we didn’t get anyone’s name. They seemed to be well staffed for a busy Sunday, which was nice, but no one was inclined to stay and converse, probably needing to get to the next guest. It didn’t quite have the personal touch of some of the less-traveled wineries. I certainly can’t fault them for doing good business, but if your goal is to sit and chat with the winemaker or someone in the owner’s family, this is probably not the place to do it, at least not on a weekend.
The Wines:  Winery on the Gruene has a lot of wines. A LOT of wines. The website says they have more than 30, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the wine list tops 40. The coolest thing about this winery is its tasting fee setup; you get four tastes for $2, and every taste after the first four is $1. They’re also totally on the honor system; you just tell them at the register what you had, and they charge you accordingly. But bear in mind that you have to make at least a $20 purchase to use a credit card.
There are many fruit-infused wines on the menu. We knew there was no way we could taste between 30 and 40 wines, especially since we still had to drive from New Braunfels to Dallas, so we skipped the fruit-infused wines and went on to the more conventional whites and reds. Some of the fruits we’d seen used before, like black cherry, peach, and blueberry, and others we didn’t cranberry, pomegranate, green apple, and watermelon. I just couldn’t imagine the combination of watermelon and wine, but I think I’ll let someone else find out for me what that tastes like!
I tried three whites, feeling that was a pretty good representation the Chardonnay, the Piesporter, and the Verdicchio. The Chardonnay had a nice nose, but I found it very light for a Chardonnay. The Verdicchio was likewise very light and almost receded into nothing on the palate. The Piesporter was sweet, and after some deliberation, we decided that it tasted like grape hard candy!
The reds were more to my taste, but still on the light side, for the most part. The Year Two and Pinotage both fell into the lighter red category, as did the Cabernet/Merlot, which I deemed to be a good summer red. In Texas, we need all the summer reds we can get! My favorites were the Rosso Grande (a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, and Pinot Noir); the Malbec, which tasted of blackberries and a hint of chocolate; and the Tempranillo/Cabernet, which was smooth with a hint of spice. Overall, though, I found that most of the reds tasted a lot like each other, without a whole lot of distinction between them.
I found it very strange that there was no dump bucket. With that many wines, people are going to find some they don’t care for, so there needs to be a place for them to dispose of the remainder instead of feeling forced to drink something they don’t like.
The Experience:  This wasn’t either our worst or our best winery experience. To me, though, many of the wines tasted a lot like each other; my fiancé made the comment that they tasted artificial. Unless you’re curious about fruit-infused wines, I’m not sure I’d make this winery a destination in and of itself. Winery on the Gruene is the only winery IN Gruene, and I can certainly see it as a good place to stop and have a glass after an afternoon of antiquing and craft shopping.