North Texas, that stretch of real estate spanning from the Dallas-Fort Worth area north to the Red River, has emerged as the polestar of the Texas winegrowing universe. It’s an expanse of gentle hills and rolling river valleys, rimmed by the four forks of the Trinity River to the east and west. The area’s wide variety of soils — some deep with well-drained sandy loam — are ideal for cultivating the Vitis vinifera prized by winegrowers.
So, it’s no surprise that this area is fast becoming one of the hottest new wine destinations. The number of wineries and vineyards established in North Texas every year is expanding, with more than 40 wineries — many in Collin County — currently dotting the landscape. North Texas Wine Country is now one of the largest winemaking and grape-growing regions in the state.
And these wineries and growers are marshaling bold thinking. They’ve largely dispensed with the chardonnay-pinot noir-sauvignon blanc variety paradigm — which is popular but doesn’t grow well in the Texas heat — in favor of varietals from the warmer climes of the Mediterranean. These include albariño (Portugal); viognier, roussanne, and mourvèdre (France), tempranillo (Spain), and trebbiano, amarone, and aglianico (Italy), often with spectacular results. You’ll even find vintners pouring grüner veltliner from Austria.
So, plan a North Texas safari and traverse the county roads, gravel byways and dirt thoroughfares to these hidden shanties of the sublime. Your maw and your mind will sing your praises.
110 E. Louisiana St., McKinney | 469.919.4692
Established by the Roper family of Dallas and co-founded by Walter Roper, 4R Ranch produces some extraordinary pours. Indulge in their estate wines, produced from the viognier and cabernet sauvignon grapes cultivated on their 1,100-acre ranch in Muenster, Texas. Or sample their portfolio of wines sourced from other pieces of Texas ground. We took swirled sips of albariño, roussanne and tempranillo in their McKinny tasting room, the latter effortlessly tickling our palates into vino ecstasy with its rich fruit and smoky undertones. The wines of 4R have earned an abundance of medals, including a bronze for the 2016 SCS Reserve — a blend of syrah, sangiovese and cabernet — in the 2019 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition — the first Texas wine to capture such accolades. And you thought Muenster was just a source of cheese.
11917 County Road 509, Anna | 214.684.6939
BarnHill demands a rugged jaunt into the North Texas prairie wilderness, complete with tight turns and a few molar-rattling road imperfections. But at the end of these roads, you’ll discover a laid-back country setting with horses and miniature donkeys grazing, backdropped by vines, a rustic barn and cornhole — wine snob paradise. Flights are placed on a slotted wooden platter with the varietals etched in chalk on slate (we think) in front of each glass. We prized the Reserve White vinted from grapes grown in the Texas High Plains, the second-largest viticultural area in Texas after the Hill Country. It’s soft with a refreshing layer of acid that tingles the front of the palate down to the throat. Don’t miss the Montepulciano, a lithe medium-bodied wine with black fruit and a little tobacco innuendo.
540 County Road 698, Farmersville | 214.298.7874
Owned by DeWayne and Amy Hill, who were married on the 16-acre property, Cedar Hollow Winery and Vineyard is a small-batch operation that’s been open just over a year. Its wines are fermented and blended on-site from juices currently sourced from California, Washington and Canada. Plans are underway to cultivate vines on the Farmersville expanse. Tanks are lined up in the back of the nicely rustic tasting room so that visitors can watch the wine ferment. We indulged in sips of Cedar Hollow’s flowery riesling and its intense amarone with a pronounced layer of fig, pairing these sips with bites from a petite charcuterie board.
4910 Eden Hill Lane, Celina | 214.850.4081
Tucked in the rolling hills around Celina — the first gigabit city in Texas — Eden Hill Estate Winery and Vineyard is dedicated to crafting Texas wines exclusively from grapes grown on 30 acres of vineyards in Celina, as well as those sourced from acreage in Brownfield in the Texas High Plains. Founded in 2007 by Clark and Linda Hornbaker, Eden Hill produces tempranillo on this 10-acre estate. The Hornbakers drew inspiration for their winery from the tree of life in the garden of Eden, which is the centerpiece of their trademark. A grapevine is a sort of tree of life when you think about it. Anyway, we indulged in a blended flight that included Divine White, a dazzlingly crisp floral blend of pinot grigio, albariño and viognier, and the Divine Red, a dark fruit-dominated tempranillo blend. Eden has its fruit, forbidden or not.
101 N. Kentucky St., McKinney | 972.542.3030
Founded in 2005 by Bob and Katie Landon, refugees from corporate finance, Landon Winery boasts six locations scattered across North Texas in spots that include Coppell, McKinney, Wylie, Grapevine and Denison with a production hub in Greenville. The very first entrant in this winery ensemble was the McKinney location, and the expansion from that point is a testament to how the winery has flourished over the nearly two decades of its existence. No surprise there. These wines are solid. We were allured by the grüner veltliner with its notes of nectarine and a peck of spice on the finish, the complex merlot reserve with its subtle grip and the amarone with its luscious cherry overtones.
103 E. Virginia St., McKinney | 972.547.9463
Lone Star Wine Cellars has the feel of an urban tavern, complete with live music. But instead of brew taps and “shaken, not stirred” martinis, you discover a portfolio of wines from all over the map. The focus is Lone Star’s ranch wines, crafted on a 350-acre ranch in Whitesboro where Lone Star is building a tasting room. Founded in 2003 by Deanna and Ron Ross and their daughter, Becky Ross Dunphy, Lone Star features some 20 ranch wines, mostly sourced from Texas and California. Offerings span the gamut from sparkling wines and chenin blanc to tempranillo, cabernet, and shiraz. We sampled the Pasqua 11 Minutes Rose from Veneto, Italy — a bright floral sip — and the Texas Hocus Pocus sangiovese, redolent with tart cherry and plumb. We paired the sangiovese with a pesto-scuitto flatbread, a pesto-laced platform with bits of prosciutto that the wine cut through deftly.
12512 State Highway 205 N., Rockwall | 469.367.9417
A visit to San Martino is like a vacation, a visit to a grand European estate if you squint hard enough. This destination features an elegant Spanish colonial-style tasting room overlooking a vineyard planted with blanc du bois. Visitors can opt for the expansive outdoor patio where you can savor wine while taking in the serene setting. The wines seem to capture that scenic tranquility in the glass. Owned by Maria C. Perez and Emilio Ramos, San Martino began its operations in 2003, and the winery sources several wine grape varieties from Brownfield in the Texas High Plains and cabernet from the east Texas town of Sulfur Bluff. The result is pleasantly crisp white wines and dazzlingly well-balanced, full-flavored reds — proof that if you know what grapes work well in the unforgiving Texas climate, you can craft the sublime. We tasted the roussanne, the aglianico reserve, the Montepulciano and the cabernet sauvignon. The peak palate performer was the aglianico, an addictive sip with unfolding layers of dark fruit and a finish with unstoppable hang time. Order a charcuterie board 24 hours in advance of your visit, and you can savor cured meats, cheeses, olives, nuts and fruits while you sniff and sip.
411 State Highway 205, Rockwall | 214.304.3001
Though it is lodged in Rockwall County, outside the Collin County borders, Rosini Vineyards, in the small town of McLendon-Chisholm, is worth the extra ticks on the odometer. Owners Greg and Carol Rosini purchased the 225-acre property with three ponds, two barns and a house with a pool in 2018. They promptly renovated the house and listed it on VRBO — a profit center within the operation. They also planted a vineyard of blanc du bois, though most of their grapes come from the Texas High Plains as well as east and central Texas. This young boutique winery is a Vitis vinifera powerhouse. We sampled the lithe trebbiano, with a subtle layer of citrus; the aglianico, with pronounced dark fruit and a loitering finish; and the muscular mourvèdre, with an inkling of pepper. But the capstone of this tasting excursion was the bold plumb and pepper notes of the cabernet sauvignon reserve aged in new French oak. We paired this collection of sips with a pork udon bowl topped with a fried egg, which means, if you make the right inferences, Rosini pours are versatile enough for breakfast.