When I bring up the topic of wines from Texas, I invariably get a guffaw, a “they make wine in Texas?” or something along the lines of “it can’t be any good.” Pardon me, but I beg to differ. I spent my second harvest weekend at Messina Hof Winery in Bryan, Texas, and not only do they make wine in Texas, they make damn good wine. I met Paul V. Bonarrigo and his wife Merrill last year at the International Wine Tourism Conference in Perugia, Italy. I’ve come to learn that all great things begin with a vision, and Paul and Merrill’s vision was that they could make great wine in Bryan. His vision has blossomed to a winery producing 100,000 cases annually and the opening of a second location in Texas Hill Country. The winery’s name comes from the popularity of the miniseries “Roots.” Paul’s family hails from Messina, Italy and Merrill’s family roots are in Hof, Germany.
As for the wines, you have plenty to choose from. Paul V. told me at last count they were producing 88 different wines. I tasted quite a few over the course of three days and particularly enjoyed the Pinot Grigio, Mama Rosa Rosé (made from the Lennoir grape), Cabernet Franc, Primitivo and Port, not fortified, but fermented to 18% alcohol. You will feel like you’re part of the family when you visit Messina Hof. I can’t wait to return!