The Vineyard at Florence. A New Winery Starts With Years of Experience

Vines at The Vineyard at Florence

The Vineyard at Florence isn’t a familiar name to Texas wine drinkers. This is a new vineyard just a 2 1/2 hours drive south of Dallas down I-35. It is part of a luxury home development of the same name serving second home owners and executives who work in Georgetown and Round Rock. You might think that with such a real estate focus the vineyard would just be eye candy to complete the pastoral scenery. However, that is not the case. The developers searched the globe, literally, for a winemaker who could make the best wine from the grapes on the estate. They interviewed an Italian, a Californian, and an Australian before deciding that Texas challenges required Texas know how and appointing one of the state’s most experienced winemakers, Dan Gatlin of Inwood Estates Vineyards, to take charge of the wine making process.
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Tasting Room at The Vineyard at Florence

The Vineyard comprises 30 acres of Blanc du Bois (10 acres), Lenoir (8 acres), Norton (10 acres) and Cabernet Sauvignon (2 acres). It was planted in 2007, two years before Gatlin came on board. When I heard of the first three grape selections I must admit that I was skeptical that any notable wine could come from the venture. These varieties have traditionally had as their primary virtue their resistance to Pierce’s Disease, which is widespread in the state. Furthermore, these vines are pre-pubescent, in winemaking terms. So it was with considerable skepticism that I accepted an offer from The Vineyard at Florence to visit and taste their first vintage. Gatlin offered an interesting perspective on the potential of hybrid grape varieties  “Today I am very impressed with the quality of the hybrid wines.  If you had asked me 5 years ago, I would only have had my experience with New York wines and other eastern states to judge by.  I was never impressed with those hybrid wines, so I would have probably suggested more Rhone Valley varietals. However, today we know that the hybrids simply NEED 2000 more degree-days to ripen properly, which they weren’t getting in the North.  So now I have to say they turned out to be excellent choices for Williamson County, and I believe that 10 years from now they will be accepted once their reputation for quality has a chance to spread.”

2009 “Forte”, Lenoir, Williamson County, TX. Soft tannins. Complex Lenoir fruit. Not overly sweet or portlike, unlike many examples of this grape. Gatlin believes that a few years on these 3-year old vines will lead to a wine that is a ringer for a Syrah.

2009 “Roma”, Norton, Williamson County, TX. Jammy, raspberry nose.

2009 “Veritas”, Cabernet Sauvignon, Williamson County, TX. Purple edge to the meniscus indicates how young this is. Complex nose of blackberries, coffee and pine needles. The textural experience in the mouth is the most flabbergasting experience of this young wine. The flavors are so intense it seems that every drop you place on your tongue just releases layer after layer of fruit.

More wines, including white wines, are on the way and will be released in the future.

These wines are available directly at the winery or may be ordered by calling them or contacting shawna@thevineyardatflorence.com. The winery is open for visitors and details may be found on their web site.

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