Wine Feature: Lewis Wines

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Lewis Wines, owned and operated by Doug Lewis, is located in Johnson City on 100 acres with lovely Hill Country views. Just a little over an hour from downtown Austin, this stop on the Wine Road 290 is one to not miss. They offer a large variety of Texas grown reds, whites, roses and dessert wines.

There’s ample outdoor seating on a sprawling deck with tableside service and a wine tasting bar inside their tasting room, making this is a great winery to visit with a large group in tow or for just a couple of people.

Their wine tasting room is open to walk-ins as well as reservations (recommended on weekends) that can be made online.

How did you start making wine in Texas?

While I was working for Pedernales Cellars I got the opportunity to make some wine on the side. They had extra space in the storage building, Duncan (my business partner) and I setup a makeshift lab with a sink and kept around 20 barrels there.

How would you describe your winery’s style? Do you consider your winemaking approach different from others?

Our style is evolving as our understanding of growing grapes and winemaking develops. But it has always centered on the philosophy that making great wine starts in the vineyard. With respect to that, we try to match winemaking style to what makes the most sense given the variety, the soil, the vintage (weather), harvest logistics, and who is farming it.

Maybe that’s pragmatic? Most of the time we’re shooting for an honest representation of that grape variety from that farmer in that vineyard, but not always.

Swim Spot, for example, is an easy drinking wine that we all love making and drinking, and it is usually a blend of fruit from east Texas and the High Plains, but has had fruit from the Escondido Valley and Hill Country in the blends as well, just depends on the vintage.

Not really about making a wine that tastes like where it was grown as it is making an easy drinking, refreshing, low-alcohol wine for our 3-9 months of summer.

What do you feel signals a good Texas vintage? How involved do you get in the vineyard?

Not losing significant crop to freeze, frost, or hail. Having rain in reasonable amounts, spread out across the growing season. As involved as possible, that’s where a lot of understanding a vintage comes from. We farm our own vineyard and are involved in varying degrees with several of our growers, sometimes more than we’d like.

What is your current favorite varietal to make wines from?

Tough question. Mourvèdre, Touriga Nacional, Tempranillo, and Tinto Cão are all in the lead.

What other Texas wineries are you liking? What global wines / winemakers / regions are inspiring you?

Tough question again, there are too many to name them all, but most of the members of Texas Wine Growers are on my short list. There are way too many wines, winemakers, and regions that inspire me to cover them all.

I really love European wines, so many are so well worked out and representations of great traditions in farming and winemaking. I honestly feel like they’re my benchmark for quality wine. That being said, I get the most excited about American wines that reach that benchmark.

For example, I really love Riesling, and have been lucky enough to drink a lot of great Riesling from places like Germany and Austria, but it is the great Riesling from the Finger Lakes that I tell the most people about and that I’m the most excited about.

What is the hardest thing about making wine in Texas?

Managing harvest and not having an established identity.

What is the thing that you like most about making wine in Texas?

The people. I’m blessed to work with many amazing people on a regular basis. Working together through the challenges of growing seasons and harvests has been an incredible experience that has taught me a lot.

Lewis Wines
3209 Highway 290 West
Johnson City, Texas 78636

More information about Lewis Wines can be found on their website: http://www.lewiswines.com/.