Did you know that ostriches do not bury their head in the sand?
Blue Ostrich Winery is more than a boutique winery with a cutesy name. Prior to being a winery, the land was a working cattle and ostrich ranch. There are still a few birds around to honor its “ornery” past. (Buy Gary a drink one day and I’m sure he will tell you all about his bad run-ins with ostriches when he was handling claims for Farmers.) The Fredrick family owns the artisan winery and vineyard which sits atop 1400 acres of sloping hillsides in the beautiful Red River Valley. The big white barn that once served as the ostrich hatchery now houses the tasting room and winery, and is the home of their mascot, Merl. Besides the cattle and the ostriches, they currently grow 7 acres of Cabernet, Tempranillo and Merlot, with some other experimental varietals. You know that you are in Texas when their website directs you to “turn at the Dairy Queen”.
We recommend that when you travel to the winery take some additional time to tour the countryside. The hills are stunning!
Earlier this summer, we visited Blue Ostrich for the first time. Even though we arrived before the tasting room actually opened, owner/host Julie graciously opened the doors and bottles for an early tasting. In our opinion, that kind of personal attention is what distinguishes a family owned winery from that of most corporate businesses. So be sure to not overlook smaller wineries that may not have the name recognition. Because we were the proverbial “early bird”, we were able to taste all of their outstanding wines. During our visit, we watched several customers come and go, each buying a case or two of their favorite wines. We were impressed by the dedicated customers Blue Ostrich has built in such a short time, as they were only open for business less than a year. From their tasting room to their labels, everything is classy and beautiful.
By the time we were done, we too were walking out with a case of our favorite wines. Here is what we bought:
- Sweet Serendipity – this sweet Moscato has a ripe melon flavor with a hint of banana; this is definitely a new favorite.
- Cielo – (pronounced “CLO”) – this is their number one seller and is a sweet red wine. As we visited with wine club members, we were repeatedly advised that we should try this one. Obviously, judges agree since it won Silver at the 2012 Houston Livestock and Rodeo International Wine Competition and the Bronze at the 2012 Dallas Morning News TexSom Wine Competition.
- Lantana - (which is a Gewurztraminer) this is a semi-sweet wine with touches of grapefruit, apricot and honey. Julie told us that it would pair well with Muenster cheese, smoked salmon or spicy Asian food.
- White Merlot – we just discovered white Merlot on this Texas Wine Camp trip and it’s quickly becoming a favorite, probably due to the taste of strawberries but with a dry finish. We learned that this grape is treated like a white grape and is pressed quickly right after the crush.
- 2011 Meritage Red – this is a bold table wine with a deep plum-like color and touch of oak. We plan to drink this wine with a good steak one evening this winter.
- Tempranillo - (First Batch) a typical Tempranillo is bold with the immediate taste of berries, followed by tobacco and vanilla as the tannins kick in. This wine won a Silver Medal at the 2012 Lone Star Wine Competition and 2012 San Francisco Wine Competition.
Contact the winery at 940-995-3100 to order wines shipped directly to your home.
This past Saturday, September 29, we made another road trip to Blue Ostrich. This time, it was to help celebrate their one year anniversary. It rained the entire time, but the rain didn’t dampen the festivities one little bit, though the ostriches took for cover and weren’t seen all day.
Since our last visit, they expanded their vineyard to the tree line, and added several new releases to their wine offerings. Gary especially liked the second release of their Tempranillo. The second batch is more smoky than the first batch, with stronger earthy tones. It should age really well.
Here’s what accounts for the difference between the batches. The first batch was from “free-run” wine. The second from the remaining juice pressed from the must, which is the solid materials, like the seeds and the skins. “Free-run” wine comes from the top portion of the fermentation tank, stopping before it reaches the sediment in the bottom of the tank. “Free-run” is considered to be better quality than pressed juice, but pressed juice can often have higher acidity and tannins, which in the hands of a master winemaker can produce a bolder wine that will just get better with age. Gary plans to hold the second release for a while and let it mellow.