In 1989 my wife and I visited a tasting room in Wimberley, TX. While my wife, Lyn, was looking around, I picked up a little yellow book titled Eat, Drink and be Merry. It was a book on home wine making. I read a little of it standing there in the tasting room and said to myself, “I can do this!” Since grapes were not available, I made wine out of anything that was free: green and red tomatoes, jalapeño peppers, dandelions, rose petals, flowers, wild mustang grapes, oranges and apples from left over Christmas baskets, free fruit from many backyards, bananas, mangos, etc. One of those wines was Prickly Pear Cactus; we picked it from a pasture in Central Texas. We found out quickly that long BBQ tongs were the way to go. It was exceptional. I furnished the wine for both my son’s weddings. The first was by making several hundred bottles of Prickly Pear Wine and Plum Wine. People liked it so well they were smuggling it out of the reception under their coats. One day I entered a contest we heard about in a wine making store. I just peeled the label off a couple of left over bottles of the wedding wine and sent them off. We forgot about it after a while, but then a month or so later we received a very large ribbon in the mail- it was scary! We had won!
In June, 2004 I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. I had gone to our doctor because I could not even write a complete sentence any more, had difficulty keyboarding and was carrying my right hand higher than normal when walking. It was quite a hit to my wife and me. I continued to work and we moved to be closer to our sons and their families near Conroe, Texas. As more symptoms surfaced, my work allowed me to work from home, but eventually was laid off as many others have been in the Texas electronics industry.
My wife, Lyn, said now was the time to build our winery; she knew it was one of my dreams. She retired from teaching and gave up a lot, pretty near everything, to make the dream possible. My wife and I are both Texas Tech graduates but, after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s, I went back to school to Grayson College in north Texas for a degree in Enology and Viticulture (Wine and Vines) and graduated Magna cum Laude. I had straight A’s and one B. The B was in a class where I received a call on the last day of class that our daughter-in-law was giving birth to our first grandson; needless to say, I left in the middle of the last class so we could travel there quickly. It was well worth that B.
We bought land on the edge of Sam Houston National Forest two years ago, renovated the poor excuse for a cottage that was on the land (it was actually bull-dozer bait; animals were living in it), built a building and received our winery permit in August of 2009. We call our little house Granite Cottage since the previous owner evidently knew someone in a countertop shop… the floor is a patchwork of granite countertop scraps. No tornado will ever blow this cottage away!
We have our first two batches of “Exotic” wine in process now… Prickly Pear Cactus Wine and Hibiscus Flower Wine. We have won medals with both. We expect to bottle in late January, 2010, and begin selling it in late March or early April this year.
These wines offer a refreshing alternative to the same standard grape wines normally encountered at every other winery. We will have our tasting room open in March/April. We will be happy to provide tours even before that by appointment.
Texas Star Winery™
29311 FM 149
Richards TX 77873