Spring (forget the sweltering summer) is the perfect time for a picnic in Texas, and the Hill Country is an ideal location. The prime picnic and wine epicenter just got better with the opening of Four Point Cellars tasting room near Fredericksburg along Highway 290, a.k.a. the wine trail of Texas.
Four Point Cellars, or 4.0 Cellars as the cool kids call it, is the love child fathered in a ménage à trois between Texas wineries Brennan Vineyards of Comanche, Lost Oak Winery (formerly Lone Oak Winery) of Burleson and McPherson Cellars of Lubbock. The three parent wineries have come together to create a fourth — hence the cellars' clever name.
These well-established wineries are taking a page from Starbucks' location marketing playbook: Put your product where the people are.
Pat Brennan, founder of Brennan Vineyards said, “Comanche is not a thriving metropolis, but a good place to grow grapes. We realized that to make it in a competitive world we needed better exposure to consumers. We knew Fredericksburg is the headquarters of Texas wine.”
Brennan appreciated that opening a remote tasting room hundreds of miles from his winery would be a huge under taking, so he called Kim McPherson of McPherson Cellars, whose Lubbock winery “is also located in a great place to grow grapes, but not a tourist destination.”
Brennan and McPherson decided to bring in a third partner and asked Gene Estes of Lost Oak Winery to join them. “We got him drunk first,” said McPherson with a wry smile.
Opening a tasting room in a high-traffic area is a great way to combat consumer skepticism of Texas wine. McPherson explained, “All of us are committed to warm-climate grape varieties that do well in Texas such as Viognier, Roussanne, Albariño, Sangiovese and Tempranillo from the Rhone Valley, Spain and Italy and we want people to taste our wine. Now people can taste wine from three more Texas wineries from the far reaches of the state that they might not have otherwise seen. This was the most logical place in Texas to do it.”
Roxanne Myers, director of sales and marketing at Lost Oak added, “We bring quality Texas wine to a quality Texas wine experience. About 74 percent of the tourists in the Fredericksburg area are Texans. Our goal is to get a bottle of Texas wine on Texans' dinner tables.”
From the looks of 4.0's landscaped four-acre property, they want a bottle of Texas wine on picnic tables too. The 5,000-square-foot tasting room was designed to accommodate large crowds of up to 250 people, with acoustics that let people carry on conversations without having to yell to be heard.
In addition to the tasting room, the winery also boasts a covered front porch, a special events pavilion and an outside wine bar serving wines by the glass or bottle. Take a bottle or two to the shade below one of the majestic Live Oak trees on the grounds for a perfect place to picnic. The winery will soon host live music to make your picnic even more memorable.
4.0 Cellars has a selection of domestic and international cheeses and deli meats, seasonal fruit and chocolates available to get your picnic started. Here are some ideas for delightful picnic food and wine pairings to enjoy on the grounds.
2011 McPherson Cellars Roussanneand Pesto Chicken Rolls
The zippy acidity, citrus and stone fruit flavors of the wine will go well with the grilled chicken. Make your rolls ahead of time by seasoning and grilling chicken breasts and set them aside to cool. Brush chipotle flour wraps with fresh pesto and then pile on the chicken, sun-dried tomatoes and fresh spinach. Roll it up, cut on the bias and stick a tooth pick in that bad boy to hold it together.
Lost Oak Winery 2010 Viognier and Ham and Gorgonzola Sandwiches
The double Gold Award winning Viognier has lush, fruity peach and pear with a hint of sweetness that goes incredibly well with the savory Gorgonzola. Make your sandwich starting by slathering Dalmatia fig spread on crusty ciabatta bread. Next, layer Black Forest ham, Gorgonzola cheese, thinly sliced tomatoes and radish sprouts.
2009 Brennan Vineyards Buffalo Rhome and Roast Beef and Blue Sandwiches
Soft, fruity cherry flavors with a peppery spice of the wine accompany the fatty blue cheese and rustic roast beef. Cut a whole-grain roll in half and smear one half with blue cheese and prepared horseradish on the other. Stack thin-sliced roast beef, arugula and tomato slices on the roll and hold them together with a toothpick.
McPherson Cellars Rose of Grenache-Syrahand Watermelon
No picnic is complete without watermelon. Try this fruity, dry rose with rose scent and strawberry flavors with fresh cut watermelon. For an extra treat, make a simple dipping sauce with fresh squeezed lime juice, water, a dash of crushed red pepper and muddled mint leaves. Spicy, sweet, sour and fruity. Yum!
Visiting 4.0 Cellars 101
- ViWhere: 10354 E. US Highway 290, about seven miles east of downtown Fredericksburg, Texas.
- When: 4.0 Cellars is open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday noon to 5 p.m.
- How much: $10 gets you a taste of six wines, a featured wine of the week (15 wines to choose from) and a logoed wine glass. The tasting fee is refunded with a purchase of two or more bottles of wine.
- How do I reach them: If ya need more info, check the website, or call the winery at 830-997-7470.