Wine Dogs: Tail Wagging At Meierstone Vineyards

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Man’s best friend” is the common colloquial phrase to describe man’s passionate companionship with domestic dogs. Its first recorded use, dates to Frederick the Great, King of Prussia in 1772, but it was later popularized in a poem by Ogden Nash. Yet Krystal Patel, Meierstone Vineyard’s owner and winemaker, says “Au contraire” to the phrase and rather prefers a woman’s best friend.

Her dog “Kimber,” a rescue show Dobermann that responds to commands only in Russian, found peace and comfort in the ultimate playground, a 555-acre, family-owned ranch, farm and tasting room spread in Stonewall. The property, which formerly produced crops and Black Angus cattle, and was a whitetail and Axis hunting ground, now offers an updated historical venue with exceptional Texas wines. It’s not uncommon for Kimber to take one-hour jaunts around the spacious property, playing with boney plated Armadillos, yet returning to greet visitors finding their way to the Meierstone tasting room.

Kimber marks a long Dobermann history for owner Krystal Patel. This is her fifth Dobermann in succession, which parlays to her family having seven generations in Gillespie County. Her family was with one of the first German immigrants, Jacob Brodbeck, dating back to 1848. Brodbeck was the second official schoolteacher in Fredericksburg, land commissioner, and an interesting inventor of his time.

On my recent visit to Meierstone Vineyards, I pulled into the grassy parking lot only to be greeted by sleek and graceful Kimber. Her calm demeanor showed excellent training by her owner, especially for a breed that can be intimidating. She seemed to smile with affection that I had arrived and wanted to walk me to the tasting room. Each step, she looks back, as if proud of her domain.

Once in the tasting area, she found comfort lying on the cool concrete floor during that hot summer day. Kimber watched me taste through an educational presentation, tail wagging, and seemed almost excited to see me enjoy the moment. I couldn’t help but to think, what if dogs could talk and what would she say? In my mind, her sleek frame painted a picture of the wines I tasted. All were perfectly balanced with careful attention to detail. It was a reflection of her seamless, protective elegance that shined during the moment. I was content with having Kimber near me, yet knew she was under the careful watch of owner Krystal. That in itself shows respect from owner to pet and pet to owner. It’s a precise love for one another that is simply understood without asking.

Indeed, not man’s best friend in this case. Rather I sincerely concur with owner Krystal. Kimber has manifested the true essence that she is “woman’s best friend.”


Inspiring Conversations with Andre Boada of Vinocadre & Six Twists Sparkling @ Elk & Main, Fredericksburg

Today we’d like to introduce you to Andre Boada.

Hi Andre; so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work life, how can you bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
My passion for food & wine started at a young age, being groomed by European parents. I quickly expanded by living in Napa-Sonoma and spearheading brand development for Jackson Family Wines and multiple artisan wineries. I recently started kicking TX winery dirt via my wine consulting company, VinoCadre, now based in Fredericksburg, TX. I mix in national work, speaking for Food & Wine Magazine and freelance wine publication writing and judging for many International wine competitions. Under development, I’m a co-founder of a new Sparkling Wine Experience called “Six Twists Sparkling,” based in Fredericksburg, TX. The lounge will be part of an artisan complex, “Elk & Main,” featuring Italian gelato, a chocolate bar, a speakeasy cocktail bar, and an event space. Opening May 2023. I hold the distinction of “Advanced Sommelier” from The Court of Master Sommeliers, tasting over 100 wines a week as a wine buyer. I also mentor many up-and-coming sommeliers and wine enthusiasts and welcome you to explore my knowledge through educational seminars.

Alright, let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what challenges have you had to overcome?
Overall smooth during my transition to success, although keeping up with the wine industry evolution involves a continuous keen eye on trends, winery upstarts, and ownership changes. That, coupled with the barrage of tasting/studying wines (up to 100 wines a week) to stay tuned to the industry, is wearing if you need more passion to push yourself. Many fail due to time management & tasting one wine at a time. My typical routine is tasting 10 or more in a sitting, and sadly I’m spitting as I taste to take clear, concise notes. I also taste wines blind through techniques gained through formal Court of Master Sommelier training. Quite honestly, tasting blind is quite humbling but the best way to challenge my palette and learn. I recommend this practice if you’re an aspiring sommelier or a wine enthusiast, thus gaining a broader depth into the world of wine. Lastly, my biggest challenge is due to time involvement in crafting multiple projects around the USA and Europe, including a new Sparkling Wine Experience called “Six Twists Sparkling.”

Let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
Founder & Wine Specialist at VinoCadre Co-founder at Six Twists Sparkling, “A Sparkling Wine Experience” Freelance wine writer, international wine judge, and educator/speaker.

VinoCadre is a platform designed for consumer food & wine education, although it encompasses Business to Business branding and execution within wineries. It’s built around a team of wine specialists, winery marketing, and professionals who understand the wine industry’s complex scope.

Six Twists Sparkling is an all-new consumer sparkling wine experience coming to life at Elk & Main, Fredericksburg, TX. Over 75 sparkling wines will be offered by the glass due to an innovative preservation system. The focus will push the boundaries of food and wine around an educational experience featuring regional sparkling wines worldwide. Opening May 2023.

What quality or characteristic do you feel is most important to your success?
Drive to succeed in multiple Food & Wine facets. Be an entrepreneurial leader with high standards for the creative process yet build brand values to deliver measurable, actional results. I push the education envelope by multiplying my principles through all channels of the wine industry, thus expanding the bandwidth of consumers/trade-gaining knowledge. I also double down with experience as a chef, winemaker, and brand developer, yet I stay true to mentoring up-and-coming stars in the wine industry.

Contact Info:


HILL COUNTRY EVENTS: VinoCadre Organising Lavish Wine Tasting Dinners

HILL COUNTRY EVENTS: VinoCadre Organising Lavish Wine Tasting Dinners

Appetizer: Potato and Leak Vichysoisse with Seared Sea Scallop, OrangeBlossom, and CaviarAppetizer: Potato and Leak Vichysoisse with Seared Sea Scallop, OrangeBlossom, and Caviar

by Andrew Chalk

VinoCadre, a Hill Country wine tasting and event company of professional sommeliers held one of their lavish wine tasting dinners recently at the Feast and Merriment event space in Stonewall. Chef Ashley Odom prepared a five-course meal and VinoCadre’s Andre Boada paired five wines. Ashley’s culinary style might be described as modern New American. The wines for this menu heavily emphasized sparkling styles. Three Champagnes, one Napa sparkling wine, and a full-bodied red for the main course made down the road in Kerrville from Hill Country grapes by Turtle Creek Olives and Vines. The winemaker is a young man to watch. Kyle Allen studied oenology here in Texas and was mentored by some of the best winemakers in the state. Check out the latter’s web site as they have regular wine tastings.

One thing I have learned is that the best way to take someone through a wine and food tasting is in pictures. So jump on and enjoy the tour!

Hamachi Crudo with Yuzu-Pickled Jenske Strawberry
Seared Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Honey Peaches, Caramelized Shallots, Morels and Shaved Fennel
The red wine was the Turtle Creek Vineyard 2020 ‘Estate Bottled’ Red Blend, Texas Hill Country a blend of 70% Montepulciano, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot. This was a fruity, full-bodied red wine with layers of complex fruit, softly chewy tannins, and a long soft finish. Turtle Creek is an emerging Texas winery to watch.
Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Honey, Fennel Pollen, and Caramelized White Chocolate
I have to mention the dessert. It was absolutely ethereal and one of the best desserts that I have had for a long time.
Not only was there great food and wine, but Andre Boada of VinoCadre provided expert commentary on each of the wines and Ashley Odom described her food. All in all a great night. Check VinoCadre’s web site for the next event.

BUBBLICIOUS – Popping Your Way Through Texas Hill Country

BUBBLICIOUS - Popping Your Way Through Texas Hill Country

There is an unmistakable sound that occurs when opening a bottle of sparkling wine, usually ringing in a moment of celebration. Yet do we understand how that effervescence transcends in winemaking? More importantly, did you know Texas Hill Country offers a wide range of options to satisfy the quest for bubbles? We sought to unlock the mystery of producing bubbles in wine, then guide readers through Hill Country region to find the best offerings.

First let’s start with the process. Basic winemaking entails converting natural sugar in wine grapes via yeast to create alcohol. The yeast eats away at sugar, converting it to alcohol. Once the yeast converts the sugar, it then dies off and is known as lees. The byproduct during fermentation is CO2 (carbon dioxide gas) that usually escapes which allows winemakers to make a wine with no carbonation.

Luckily and by happenstance, the French region of Champagne, with some help from the British, discovered if you trap the CO2 gas, bubbles in wine come to life. From there, it’s just a matter of perfecting that process and finding a glass mold to hold the 70 PSI pressure.

What most consumers don’t know is there are numerous ways to create bubbles. They range considerably in cost and style, and are usually based on what regional influence and the winery perfecting that product. Let’s break it down with the most common styles and naming found here in Texas.

Champagne Method, Méthode Champenoise or Traditional Method Champagne. All three names represent the same method. But to call sparkling wine Champagne, it must come from Champagne, France. True Champagne from the region represents the most prestigious and, from a sommelier viewpoint, the highest quality. They have a long history with unique terroir to showcase distinctive personality and excellent aging potential. That said, it can carry a steep price tag for the best Grand Cru’s and Premier Cru classification. A vintage (year listing on label when the grapes are harvested) is only declared when it was an exceptional growing season. Otherwise, it is listed as a nonvintage and is a blend (cuvee) from several vintages. For those who love Champagne, vintage 2018 was considered one of the best ever so be on the immediate lookout since they are being released this year.

This Champagne Method is the most expensive to produce, since winemakers first make a still wine, then conduct a secondary fermentation in the bottle to trap the CO2 and rest the lees in-bottle during that tirage stage. The French Champagne region has the strictest rules that parlay with time. Once aged, vintage requires a minimum of 3 years, and nonvintage, 15 months. Vintage Champagne tends to be more complex with a rich mouthfeel, compared to a softer nonvintage, representing a house style. Method Charmat or Tank Method. This is similar to the Champagne Method, but the secondary fermentation takes place in a pressurized tank. Aging requirements don’t apply in this method and depends on the winery producing the wine. The result is a lively expression with less complexity and lower cost to the consumer. Another noticeable difference is in the size of bubbles with the Champagne Method being more refined and smaller in size.

Other names to note when looking at sparkling wines: Cava – Famous in Spain and produced near Barcelona. The grapes used in Spain are different from traditional Champagne grapes of Chardonnay (white), Pinot Noir (red) and Pinot Meunier (red), so a distinctive flavor profile. Winemaking styles are across the board with Traditional Method to Tank Method. Overall, a great value, especially for the Traditional Method style versus Champagne.

Prosecco – Northern Italy’s homage to sparkling wine and one of the most-consumed alcohol beverages in Italy. It’s usually light and lower in alcohol, so a lovely expression of bubbles. It’s another great value for sparkling wine lovers. Most Proseccos are tank method with a quick grape-toglass production timeline. Be sure to look for the DOCG classification to ensure the highest standards.

Pét-nat, or Méthode Ancestrale, is a method of sparkling wine production used all over the world. Interestingly, winemakers can use any grape to create this wine. Unlike traditional-method sparkling wines, like Champagne, which adds sugar and yeast to dry, still wine in order trigger a second fermentation and produce bubbles, pét-nat works by bottling wine that is only partially fermented. Buyer beware on this style: expect cloudy, unfiltered bubbly wines and a rustic style.

HEATH SPARKLING WINES, located next to Grape Creek Vineyards is a vison of proprietor Brian Heath. It offers a unique tasting experience designed exclusively to a rotating array of four sparkling wines. Each wine, a different style and cleverly named, showcasing Texas and California fruit sourcing. All the wines are exceptional but felt the ultradry, vintage 2018 Blanc de Blanc (all Chardonnay) stood out. They are thoughtfully paired by chef, Savanah Zapata with seasonal small bites using private suites limited to six guests. The staff is well-trained and execute a flawless experience mixed with a large screen, video educational tool as a backdrop. The tasting room is architecturally stunning, sleek and modern giving way to panoramic vineyard views. Soon, a new member patio will open that shouldn’t be missed.

Tasting Room Manager Richard Foster has a long history working for the Heath family. “The sparkling wine program is excelling with quality year after year,” Foster said. “The winemaker, through working consistent vineyard sites, is pushing forward with higher standards and minor tweaks and crafting artisan wines with more complexity. A good example is our 2018 Blanc de Blanc with 18 to 20 months of aging on the lees.”

UNTAMED WINE ESTATES, Johnson City – A new kid on the 290 wine trail that’s buzzing with exciting wines. Founders Dane and Mckenzie Sanvido are well-respected by local competitors, who sincerely feel winemaker Dane is the one to watch in Hill Country. His style reflects international training and savvy attention to detail. Mckenzie is trained around chemistry and supports lab work for local wineries. She’s also an excellent chef, crafting tantalizing menu offerings that pair perfectly with her husband’s wine. They only offer one sparkling wine at Untamed Wine Estates, but this 2019 Blanc de Blanc, Champagne Method sparkling wine is a winner. Sourced from cool, coastal vineyards in Monterrey, California, and aged on lees for 18 months. Classic elegance shines through with this release and it gains more complexity with aging.

RON YATES WINES –Ron Yates and and his wines at the facility located near Hye showcase an authentic Texas winemaking experience. His flair is mesmerizing and real. An excellent example is a single vineyard Texas Grenache, sparkling rose. A Pét-nat style, salmon pink in color and quite interesting. Fresh strawberries layered with earthy rhubarb dance around lively bubbles. Rustic and unfiltered, yet worth discovering.

AUGUSTA VIN, Fredericksburg is setting the stage for the future of premier Texas Hill Country wineries. It’s a destination winery with all the right elements. The drive into the estate reveals perfectly groomed vineyards, a magical 60 acres of vineyard bliss. It’s followed by a majestic tasting room crafted by proprietor Scott Felder, a home builder from the Austin area. The entire property is impressive in design yet welcoming with a causal elegance throughout. The winery is estate-focused so when tasting wines, one can truly embrace a sense of place while overlooking the vineyards. The sparkling wine program carries through on estate focus. All are hand-bottled with a local artist designed label representing the “Sirens” of Greek mythology. Be sure to explore the 2020 Sirens Sparkling Rose’ Estate, a Brut styled expression of two red grapes grown on the estate, Sauso and Counoise.

TURTLE CREEK OLIVES & VINES in Kerrville takes on a dual role when discovering sparkling wines. They offer private-label, 100% Texas wines, but double down with a classy, two-story historic wine bar that sells an international wonderland of sparkling wines. They include Champagne, Burgundy Crémant, California, Spanish Cava, Italian Prosecco, and even rare sparkling bottlings from the South Africa and Tasmania regions. Most wines are available to taste before buying and served by highly trained professionals. Truly a place to discover a wide range of sparkling wines at reasonable price points.

MESSINA HOF, Hill Country represents one of the founding wine pioneers in Texas, and the Bonarrigo family’s history runs deep and centers on family values and quality Texas wines. When visiting Messina Hof, one will find a large selection of wines that covers every spectrum of wine consumer. That mentality carries over to the sparkling wine program. The 2017 Blanc de Blanc and 2018 Rose are solid, yet what intrigued me is their best-selling Sparkling Almond, semi-sweet, Methode Traditional wine. Not everyone wants a dry sparkling, and this wine delivers incredible flavor and quality.

Now it’s time to bubble through Texas Hill Country. Celebrate life with friends or family, and sip these bubblicious recommendations. I know I’ll be toasting to the Texas Hill Country award-winning wineries and supporting their efforts.


Freestyle Fridays – Interviewing Andre Boada of Vino Cadre – Episode #79

Freestyle Fridays – Interviewing Andre Boada of Vino Cadre – Episode #79


Road Trippin’ Texas Wine Country! VinoCadre’s Andre Boada gives us a lesson in Texas Wine

Road Trippin’ Texas Wine Country! VinoCadre’s Andre Boada gives us a lesson in Texas Wine

Before we go Road Trippin’ in Texas Wine Country, we had a few questions– like what is Texas wine? How’s it different from wines around the world? So we went to the expert: Andre Boada, Founder of VinoCadre, is the man to know in Central Texas, and he can fill us in on the booming wine business.


Kerr County Grit

Kerr County Grit

Challenges, hard work, family focus mark first years of Turtle Creek

by Andre Boada

Occasionally we meet people with extraordinary family values, yet even more of a rarity mixing in true Texan grit. Turtle Creek Olives & Vines proprietors Dan and Sue Schulse possess these attributes with an even higher flare for excellence.

Approaching retirement, the couple ventured to Italy in a quest for Old World renaissance but came away with a vision to buy ranch land in Kerrville to plant olive trees and vineyards. In 2015, they found 160 acres on the edge of town and along with family members discovered a new passion in life, olives and vines.

The winery estate – or a Tenuta, the Italian name for an area offering more than just wine – encompasses an Italian Villa, farm animals, fresh grown produce, olive trees and a small working winery. The gentle flow of Turtle Creek runs adjacent to the Villa which enchants you while visiting the estate or using for special events and weddings.

This new family vision seemed seamless, using multiple generations of family, and a project that gives way to a bounty for future generations. Yet, hardships prevailed with their olive tree efforts due to the harsh Texas winter weather. After two extreme winters and two rounds of reinvesting new olive plantings the family was forced to dig up all the olive trees, secure them in the estate nursery, then relocate them to a new ranch site in South Texas (in Hondo) with warmer climate.

The vineyards, now approaching 10 acres, came about on a whim. Dan asked his wife if he could plant a few vines back in 2015 and his wife, Sue thought it would be 3 or 4 vines. What entailed, 400 vines were shipped in from a California nursery, creating a small field blend using common Texas red varietals. What ensued due to the olive tree hardship was vineyard expansion using the expertise of Bill Blackmon, the iconic, 35-year veteran vineyard specialist behind William & Chris Winery label and Blackmon Ranch Vineyards.

“Dan Schulse is a true Texan,” said Bill Blackmon, half of the William & Chris empire. “Three generations deep of Houston, coupled with Texas A&M education mark his culture. He is professional and driven around great ethical business practices.

“Dan’s determination is unyielding, but he always keeps a warm pulse on family values with his wife Sue. Texas needs more vineyards to sustain all the new winery growth and Dan shares that vision versus buying grapes on contract from the High Plains,” Blackmon said.

Helping the family on the ranch estate is Kyle Allen, an up-and-coming prodigy within vineyard development and winemaking. He is adding new vineyards along the benchland surrounding current plantings to create a two-tiered arena. (Tours are available, by appointment if visiting the ranch and usually hosted by Kyle or family members.)

The Turtle Creek Olives & Vines tasting room is located downtown Kerrville at 211 Earl Garrett Street. Opened in July 2019, just prior to COVID, additional challenges pursued.

The tasting room is a wine bar orchestrated by the two sons, Cory and Carl, and mixed with a motherly watchful eye, Sue Schulse, reflecting family values.

The exquisitely appointed tasting room is in a two-story historic “Masonic” building founded by Corrine and Charles Schreiner in 1890, and offers endless historical Kerrville reference. The outside framework showcases locally quarried limestone and designed using late Italianate-style architecture. The façade features smooth-dressed stone, arched windows and doorways. Inside, a warm and inviting parlor with sit down service around a relaxed elegant persona.

Bill Blackmon, vineyard specialist left and Dan Schulse, proprietor right shape the future at Turtle Creek Estate.

“Our goal in the tasting room is make you feel like family,” claims Carl Schulse, one of two sons managing the tasting room. “We focus on Texas wines from the Turtle Creek estate but also offer an international array of wines along with tapas and locally sourced, artisan products. It is an elevated experience that caters to foodies and all levels of wine connoisseurs. We constantly conduct wine education programs internally and externally to consumers. Having international wines to complement our estate wines also gives us a broader experience not offered in Texas wineries.”

Turtle Creek recently launched a new monthly food and wine educational program offered from 3-6 p.m. on Sundays, mid-month. They cleverly themed each month to focus on using their Texas wines versus the world by offering a walk around three- to fourstation format pairing International recipes to match each station. (Cost is $25 per person for non-wine club members. Details can be found at

What should also be noted is Kerrville is gaining attention, especially with new-found energy and the gradual loosening of COVID restrictions:

“I have found Kerrville to be a unique location reflecting major growth potential,” said John J. Rivenburgh, president of the Texas Hill Country Wineries and operator of Kerrville Hills Winery. “The art scene, new music venues and now emerging wine and grape growing industry are quite exciting.

“The western side of the county lends itself to fantastic growing locations along with a couple of vineyards that are currently doing some aggressive planning for the future. That includes the Schulse family, who have planted a beautiful vineyard and seem to be on their way to growing some excellent grapes for the region.”

It can be said that the five-year, Turtle Creek Olives & Vines challenges starting in 2015 are now reaching the plateau. “Grit” is defined by positive and negative experiences, leading to learning and growth. In the case of the Schulse family, true Texas “grit” has prevailed with a special blessing of family values. In my mind, it is a lovely story now unfolding the future in Kerrville.


Two Steppin’ within Hill Country’s Newest Wineries

Two Steppin’ within Hill Country’s Newest Wineries

Quick, quick, slow, slow – the methodical process associated with the celebrated Texas two-step. But why not apply this to the new wine arena afoot in Texas?

During 2020, the Texas Hill Country found home to many new upstarts on the winery front, each with unique personalities, adding more dimensions to the landscape. Some may ponder how many more wineries can the Fredericksburg area absorb or will this enhance the quality being produced by current producers and grape growers? I say, we still have room to grow. And more importantly, the competition will produce finer expressions of quality as we expand. That coupled with Texas pride creates parity for a bright future.

Coming from a Napa/Sonoma winery history dating back to the 1970s, I’m now seeing Texas Hill Country growth similar to that era. Back in the ’70s, Sonoma had 60-70 wineries (much like the current base in Hill Country) and now Sonoma unleashes over 400 in a 30-by-30-mile radius. In contrast, Texas showcases 500 wineries statewide. For many producers, it’s just a matter of having vineyards to support growth, along with consumer quality satisfaction in the equation.

This time, I’m focusing on family values mixed with Texas pride, exhibited by two wineries both devoted to 100% Texas wines, a philosophy that exhibits Texas purity.

Kalasi proprietors, Greg and Nikhila Narra Davis host you personally during visits to the tasting room.

Kalasi Cellars, Fredericksburg

The name Kalasi is a vision of co-founders, husband and wife Greg and Nikhila Narra Davis. It reflects a cultural twist with roots to Nakhila’s Indian family Heritage. The Indian name Kalasi translates as “together,” reinforced by a strong elephant design element on the label, a symbol that breaks down barriers. Nakhila is a first-generation American and her parents come from generations of growing Indian-inspired food ingredients and spices. With Nakhila’s passion for wine, the parents decided to plant vines in the Brownfield area, managed by their daughter.

The wines of Kalasi are 100% estate-driven, all coming from her family’s High Plains AVA site, a pristine, 140 acres of Narra Vineyard. This high-pedigree vineyard site is farmed without pesticides and often used by leaders within Texas winemaker circles.

Winemaker Benjamin Calais of Calais Cellars and The French Connection sources from the Narra Vineyard and offers these insights: “This vineyard is naturally gifted with low-yielding vines, which produce intensity in flavor. Usually, two tons per acre is the threshold. In my mind, it is perfection for my winemaking style and creates an underlying ingredient to my success. I also admire how the vineyard was designed in clonal selection, which is often overlooked by grape growers.”

When visiting the new tasting room, one is emersed in a sleek building design that resembles a barn with a modern flair. The 17-acre estate and outside garden area are laced with Adirondack chairs nestled under old pecan trees. Opened August 15, 2020, founders Greg and Nikhila serve as the greeters. Their personal passion flows deep through presentations with two wine levels or collections offered. The Heritage Collection using common varietals or blends and the premium tier, Reincarnated Collection, a rare, more unique definition of high standards and wine making. Both are small batch, presenting sense of place and terrior. My personal favorite, the 2017 Teroldego, is an inky, full-throttle red wine, yet balanced with silky tannins. Note: overall winery production is limited, 1,000-1,500 cases per year and only sold at the winery or online.

Not to be overlooked is the authentic Indian heritage food offered at Kalasi. They even offer soda drinks imported from India that process flavors of ginger, lime, and fresh clove, a clever alternative for the designated driver or a refreshing take-away after your tasting.

Adega Vinho, Stonewall

The second leg of my two-step involves a family driven Adega Vinho cadre working in harmony to produce 100% Texas wines. The Bilger family, proprietors represented by Andrew, Michael and Elena, create a multilevel kaleidoscope of passion wrapped around award-winning wines. Each family member processes a powerful winery business angle, yet as a team they create Adega Vinho magic.

Winemaker, Michael Bigler kicking some Estate Vineyard dirt with Adega Vinho guests.

Their long-term vision, build out the Adega Vinho 24-acre estate under vine surrounding the Scandinavian-designed tasting room. Currently the family has 12 acres planted with a mix of grape varietals. The makeup consists mainly of Spanish, Italian and Portuguese varietals in origin but crafted with Texas nuances and precision.

Bobby Humphries, Founder of Terre De Vin, a specialist in Texas vineyards and wineries, states: “I am consistently given the opportunity to work with some amazing grape growers, winemakers, and other professionals in the wine industry. Visiting Adega Vinho offers a personal connection with the Bilger family, who generously share their passion and vision. Using innovation and progressive ideas from vine to wine allows them to showcase what Texas wines can and should be. This includes higher planting densities of unusual grape varieties along with a winemaking style that allows the varietal to stand on its own. As the estate vintages are released, I expect exciting things from Adega Vinho.”

Top shelf barrel sample of Adega Vihno, Texas Hill Country Chardonnay. A small batch, artisan exclusive for wine club members.

Opened in January 27, 2020, I went following a fellow sommelier recommendation. What I discovered are layers of passion from the family and tasting room staff that translates to the glass. Rarely does one taste through a portfolio and like all that they offer, yet that prevailed. The standout however was a red cuvee, 2018 Cuvee’ Carmesin, an artistic 50-50 blend of Touriga National and Merlot.

On a recent visit I had a sneak peek at the future releases with Michael Bilger, Adega Vinho winemaker and vineyard specialist. What resonated throughout was incredible attention to detail, even with exploring every angle to excel. “We try to be as hands-off as possible, with our wine production ‘ushering’ the fermentation process rather than driving it,” Michael Bilger said. “This approach is seeped heavy in the traditional approach to fermentation, but as it is almost 2021, we do lean into modern wine making techniques throughout our fermentation journey.”

When visiting Adega Vinho, be sure to experience a full tasting, meet the family who often serves, then move to the spacious outdoor setting. All areas are warm and welcoming, but the live oaks and picnic area bring out a tranquil way to relax with friends and family.


Wine Chatter with Vaudeville’s Beverage Director: Dylan Ricker,

Wine Chatter with Vaudeville’s Beverage Director: Dylan Ricker,

Vaudeville Bistro | Fredericksburg, TX

Typically, I stroll down Main Street Fredericksburg, TX to meet friends for lunch or
maybe even a glass of vino but decided to stop in Vaudeville Bistro to have a chat with
the sommelier. I set up a 3 PM meeting with Beverage Director, Dylan Ricker although
arrived early on a picture perfect day, thus giving me an opportunity to walk through the
main floor, a shop designed for home décor yet orchestrated to make you gander at all
the unique lifestyle offerings. My favorite, a custom made “Teckell” foosball table that is
truly a gem. More on the living space floor:

I was quickly welcomed by Sarah, a sales associate with a warm smile making the visit
even more welcoming. Her personality like others that frame the personnel are an
integral ingredient designed by the owners, driving the distinctive personality at Vaudeville.

Shortly thereafter, I stepped downstairs to the bistro. A lively area, full of conversation
filled by consumers having lunch. I noticed Dylan at the bar doing what he does best,
exploring new wine offerings being presented by a distributor rep and a wine supplier.
Luckily, I slid into the presentation which brought back days of old when I was a wine
buyer studying for my sommelier certification. We tasted five wines from around the
world, each offering rarity and varying price points. It was fascinating to watch Dylan’s
poker face at work and what drives his decision process but could see he was looking
for highest quality for the best price. Almost thinking ahead to his wine club members
needs and beverage needs across the Vaudeville outlet arena. He decided on a Napa
Cabernet Sauvignon, Matthiasson which presented an incredible price point so a shoe in
for Vaudeville “The Supper Club” fixed menu, by-the-glass offering.

We then strolled over to a wine retail area within the bistro where I asked him to select a
wine to discuss. Each of the wines were personally selected by sommelier Dylan so a
wall of artisan wonder. In my case, a playground to discover need based on regional
passion and what food to pair upon purchase. Decided to capture a quick video and hear
his perception of a wine and learned this was a wine selected for the Vaudeville Wine
Club, an exclusive avenue that creates an elevated experience for their members.
What drove home the experience during our time together is Dylan’s passion within the
food and beverage industry. Vaudeville and the Texas Hill Country are quite blessed to
have him. His demeanor and professional style raises the bar of the ever growing charm
that makes Fredericksburg a destination.

Check out the Fact Sheet on the wine here.

Vaudeville, Fredericksburg, TX


San Antonio Rodeo & Livestock International Wine Competition

San Antonio Rodeo & Livestock International Wine Competition


Andre Boada | Judge & Sommelier | 10/5/20 – 10/7/20

We have all seen accolades posted on websites or even grocery/retail shelf talkers outlining a “Double Gold” International wine medal winner but how is that mark defined? In a quest to share insights I decided to parley my skillset by participating as judge in one of the top 10 wine competitions held within the US, San Antonio Rodeo & Livestock International Wine 2020 Competition. A three-day expose’ with two days of preliminary judging and one day for final champion awards.

It all begins by being selected as a judge. In my case, it occurred by happenstance. as I was involved by entering wines for Augusta Vin Estate Winery, based in Fredericksburg, TX. During the process I inquired about being a judge & sent in my credentials. Luckily for me I have a long history in the wine industry that includes judging in SF International mixed with a Court of Master Sommelier “Advanced” certification. Quite honestly, you never know if you’ll make the cut since all judges are highly qualified. Shortly after, I was selected as one of 50 judges with over 1000 wines entered within the competition.

Day 1
As you might imagine COVID conditions played into judging protocol and precheck involved a health screening questionnaire followed by temperature check and mandatory wearing a mask unless tasting wines. Upon arrival you get a name badge followed by a mystery/lottery table assignment. That way no one can predetermine tasting flights selected for your group. Each group of judges, all (5) five w/one captain who tallies the score. The group is individually spaced 6 feet apart and given tight instructions on scoring. Points are assigned for appearance, aroma, body, taste and finish.

All wines are tasted blind and your score is solely determined by what you decide.

Following the completion of each flight some judge discussion takes place based on favorites and/or if wine might need a second consideration to raise/lower score.
Judging began promptly at 10 AM and other than a quick 30 minute lunch, it was a fast and furious dance on your taste buds all through till 5 PM.

The highlights of the day: Sangiovesse – Texas $17-$39, amazing quality across the board. The other, Red Blends, Texas – French Blends and noticed mostly Rhone varietals as a focus. Lastly, the best flight, Cabernet Sauvignon $26-$30 – all were exceptional.

Setup at the judge seat - San Antonio Rodeo 2020 | VinoCadre
Set up at the judge seat- water, crackers, cold cuts, cheese and even some sweets.

The flight lineup, 12 in all for the day, consists of 7 pre-lunch and 5 post lunch. Each flight offers a grape or blend category and price point showcasing 6-8 wines. That said, you evaluate around 90 wines per day, sometime trying each wine 2-3 times. This in itself is challenging on the palette so taste then spit is needed. Also the rodeo provided ample ways for you to help your taste buds bounce back after each flight.

Sauvignon Blanc Flight with scores - San Antonio Rodeo 2020 | VinoCadre
Sauvignon Blanc Flight with scores

Day 2

Mainly a repeat of day one but with different wines and a new group of judges. There were just a few returning judges that included myself. At my table today, a savvy group including Will Bliss, senior wine buyer HEB, Jerkel Van Bibber, senior manager RDC, Jennifer Beckmann, GM/sommelier Slate Mill Winery and Lorelei Helmke, Press/sommelier. If you ever watched the movie “Somm” then you would appreciate this: Most unusual sommelier descriptors of the day, (1) this sangiovese smells like hot dog water and (2) color descriptor, Mega-purple.

What I really noticed today, a continuation of the seamless execution from all the volunteers. The sheer rotation of wines every 30 minutes was amazing. Each group of 5 judges had 5 volunteers making sure everything was on point. Really enjoyed meeting the dream team behind the scenes and honestly felt they enjoyed watching us judge.

Agenda for the day 1 – each judge table had a different plan - San Antonio Rodeo 2020 | VinoCadre
Agenda for the day 1 – each judge table had a different plan

Added notes on the point system per wine, per judge
Appearance 0-1 points
Aroma 1-5 points
Body 1-7 points
Taste 1-7 points
Finish 1-5 points
Five judges per group so a 100 point scale was used
92-100 points Double Gold
72-91 Gold
52-71 Silver
32-51 Bronze

32-51 Bronze

If we noticed a flaw, for example a corked wine, then the wine would be replaced with a fresh bottle before judging. This occurred 3 times in two days.

In closing, I can’t thank the entire San Antonio Rodeo team enough for all the kindness they showed during the judging. Not only did they prefect the art of judging they made us feel safe, well respected and made me a sincere fan for all their efforts. Kudos to all for a job well done at every level and all the new friends that came into my circle of life.

Andre Boada, sommelier tongue check at the end of day 2 - San Antonio Rodeo 2020 | VinoCadre
Andre Boada, sommelier tongue check at the end of day 2

Be sure to follow VinoCadre on social media for daily insights and antics as I explore the world of food & wine. I also plan to post final results from the competition once completed.