Los Pinos Ranch Vineyards is part of the Texas Piney Woods Wine Trail, which covers a large area east of Dallas, roughly centered around Tyler. Los Pinos is out in the middle of nowhere (as are many of the Piney Woods wineries), but is worth searching out. The wines are good, the food is good, and the view is great.
I wish I had taken a picture of the main building. I’m going to borrow one from their website, and hopefully they won’t mind.
There is a restaurant with a large patio, where you can order food and any wines you’d like to taste. The food was great (we had a pizza), and the flights were brought to the table with a tasting sheet for making notes. I have grown to appreciate a good tasting sheet – one with a complete list of the wines, a description of each, and sufficient space to write notes.
They bring out the flights in a nifty, test-tube-like contraption. (Picture from their website.)
Los Pinos grows Cynthiana (also called Norton), Blanc du Bois, and Black Spanish (also called Lenoir) grapes. They also use grapes that are purchased from other parts of Texas, and other states.
Here are the tasting notes I made when we visited:
Chardonnay – Bin 9
Un-oaked. Aromas/favors of citrus, apple, herbs, floral. This wine was fairly simple, but had a nice balance, and fell somewhere between and Old and New World style. Includes grapes from other states.
Chardonnay Reserve – 2007
Barrel fermented. This oaked Chardonnay had the oak and vanilla notes that you would expect, but also some hints of clove and a touch of smokiness. Like their other Chardonnay, this seems to straddle the Old World/New World style. Includes grapes from other states.
Sangiovese – Bin 10
Aromas/flavors of spice, tobacco, chocolate, and cranberry. Medium tannin and high acid. Includes grapes from other states.
Cabernet Sauvignon – Bin 10
Aromas/flavors of black currant, spice, vanilla, herbal/vegetal, smoke. This cabernet had a hint of vinegar, which detracted from an otherwise solid Cabernet. Includes grapes from other states.
Grand Reserve Meritage – 2009
Blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Aromas/flavors of dried fruits, spice, tart cranberry, and a hint of chocolate. Includes grapes from other states.
Moscato Reserve – 2010
These grapes came from Texas. Moscato (often called Muscat in these parts) grows well in East Texas. This one had aromas/flavors of peach and apple, with the trademark “white grapey” aroma and floral notes. The alcohol was a little too high for it to be well-balanced though.
Rosie the Riveter
This is a semi-sweet rosé. It had a sweet, candied aroma of strawberries and melon. Includes grapes from other states.
Sweet Rodeo Red
These grapes came from Texas. Though the wine was fully sweet, it had a nice balance of earthy and tart flavors.
All My Xs
These grapes came from Texas. This sweet red wine was rich and jammy, with aromas of cranberry, spice, and a hint of earthiness. It also seemed a touch high on the alcohol level.
These grapes came from Texas. This sweet wine had the aroma of cotton candy, and was simple and not very interesting.
My favorites were the Sangiovese, All My Xs, and Grand Reserve Meritage. The Sweet Rodeo Red and the 2 Chardonnays were also quite good.
The Piney Woods, and East Texas in general, is a challenging area for winemaking due to difficult climate and soil. Los Pinos is making good wines from a combination of grapes they can grow themselves and what they can source from other places. They’ve also built a fantastic spot for visiting, and according to their website, they regularly offer free live music. If I lived anywhere near them, I’d be there all the time just to hang out, drink wine, and enjoy the view.
Most of these wines are available at Spec’s and priced between $10 and $20. I noticed on the Spec’s website that Los Pinos has introduced a few new wines since I visited. I guess I’ll have to go back to try them!