A few years ago I had the great fortune to meet Paul and Merrill Bonarrigo at the International Wine Tourism Conference in Umbria, Italy. The owners of Messina Hof Winery in Bryan, Texas, we hit it off instantly and have been close friends ever since. I’ve celebrated two different harvests with them and this year I returned to visit their Hill Country location as well as the winery itself in Bryan. We arrived in the middle of the night, flying into Austin and then driving an hour and a half to their Manor House B & B in Fredericksburg. Each of the four rooms is named. We stayed in the Messina house, honoring Paul’s Sicilian heritage. Each room is very comfortably appointed and has high-speed wi-fi, a flat screen TV and a coffee maker and fridge.
We paid a visit to William Chris Winery, where we had a chance to visit with Chris Brundrett and then toured the facility and did some barrel tasting with cellar master Tyler Wolz. William Chris is producing exceptional wines. Other stops included Pedernales Cellars, Rancho Ponte, Hye Meadow Winery and Four Point O. Paul Bonarrigo recommended a visit to Luckenbach. Only familiar with it from the song, we paid a visit and I’m so glad we did. In the middle of nowhere, it’s rustic, funky and fun. We took in the sights and sounds, including cats sleeping on the bar and a chicken wandering out back while we were serenaded by a troubadour. It’s a stop well worth making if you’re in Texas Hill Country.
My visits to Texas always pass too quickly. If you’re someone who raises an eyebrow when you hear about Texas wine, do yourself a favor and visit Texas Hill Country and make sure you visit Messina Hof in Bryan, too. The Bonarrigos are the definition of Texas Hospitality.
Tom Plant launched WINEormous in 2009 and is a member of the International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association. Based in Temecula, California, he offers intimate winery tours for no more than seven people. Tour details and pricing are available at www.temecula-tours.com. Call now to book your Temecula Winery Tour at (951) 907-9701. Ask about special discounts.