From tasting tours to full dinners and garden receptions, Fredericksburg wineries are the place for corporate events this summer. There is no question that the wine industry in and around Fredericksburg is booming. According to the Fredericksburg CVB, it’s now home to more than 30 wineries and wine tasting rooms, up from just four in 2000.
“The concentration of wineries in Fredericksburg and along Wine Road 290 has created a ‘Texas Wine Country’ experience that is attracting attention across the nation,” says Ernie Loeffler, president/CEO, Fredericksburg Convention and Visitor Bureau. “Fredericksburg will host the national Wine Marketing & Tourism Conference in November 2016, which is only the third time the conference has been held outside of California. And the hard work and knowledge of Texas grape growers and wine makers keeps pushing the bar up on the quality of our wines.”
The Messina Hof Hill Country Winery is one of three Messina Hof locations. The first opened in Bryan in 1977 and the third, in Grapevine, opened in 2014. On 10 acres, the Hill Country winery has its own vineyard that grows Lenoir grapes, which are used to make port wines, according to Savannah Gaines, public relations coordinator. “Messina Hof prides itself on producing an excellent port created from the Lenoir grapes grown at Messina Hof Bryan and Hill Country,” Grimes says. “Our port is unique because it’s one of the first in the world produced naturally without brand fortification.”
The winery is ideal for private events, says Grimes, because the space is very open and customizable. Each private event includes a two-hour location rental, a three-course dinner served buffet-style, a glass of wine from the winery’s Private Reserve Collection served with dinner, a barrel tasting and history tour and finally, a full wine tasting, which allows each guest five wines to taste out of 50. Overnight accommodations are also available at the Manor Haus Bed and Breakfast, with four private suites (called retreats) with private entrances, living rooms, kitchenettes and Wi-Fi access.
“Messina Hof Hill Country is like a modern day castle in the middle of the Texas Hill Country,” says Grimes. “Rustic and classical elements are two good words to describe the features. We are also all-inclusive—when you book an event here, you also get an event coordinator that will go above and beyond to meet your needs.”
The Fredericksburg Winery is a family-run operation currently celebrating its 20-year anniversary. As family member and “G-1” (Go for No. 1) Cord Switzer will tell you, the winery is designed to be, above all, fun. According to Switzer, “If an individual is a wine snob, then they are probably going to be shocked by us!” Located on Main Street in Fredericksburg, the 10,600-square-foot operation practices minimal production with only Texas wines, says Switzer, with just 6,000 cases annually—sold exclusively on-site.
“The attitude is, we want you to learn about wine because the more you learn, the more comfortable you are dealing with all the wine ‘stuff’ and misinformation that is out there,” he explains. “While we like you to increase your wine knowledge, we tell people—the only thing you need to know about wine is what you like and don’t like—the rest is nice to know but you do not need to know. Wine is such fun that it gets to be contagious, and that is the door we want to open for our guests.”
The winery hosts a variety of corporate events, including small-scale (up to 20 guests) in the separated VIP tasting space. The facility is small, Switzer says, because he wants his visitors to do more than just taste wine. One option, cleverly titled “Wine 101 WHP,” translates to “Wine 101: Without the Horse Pucky.” In other words, simple and true. Switzer adds that they can accommodate larger groups up to 50 in the main tasting room.
According to Nichole Bendele, public relations and tasting room coordinator, Richard and Bunny Becker got started in the industry because they were looking for a log cabin to renovate. “The Beckers ended up with finding two log cabins and more acres of land than they intended. They decided that, along with gardening, they enjoyed drinking wine. The rest is history,” Bendele says.
In addition to the tasting room, groups can utilize the Lavender Haus Reception Hall, an 1,800-square-foot indoor facility for groups. The architectural design is replicated from a limestone barn at the LBJ National Park’s Johnson Settlement in Johnson City, explains Bendele. The timber-frame vaulted ceiling, native cypress walls, wrought-iron chandeliers and large limestone fireplace complement the space, which can accommodate up to 104 guests. The outdoor flagstone patio with outdoor fireplace and huge live oak add a nice touch, along with additional outdoor space.
Taylor Hensel, group and private events coordinator, adds that for corporate events the Lavender Haus has a projector and viewing screen and can transition from meeting to luncheon seamlessly. According to Hensel, a recent luncheon prepared by chef Gino Gabriel included three courses: burratta and arugula on top of house-made focaccia, Hill Country grilled quail on top of Texas-milled polenta and a Sun-Gold tomato, baby artichoke and Castelvetrano olive ragu, and a buttermilk panna cotta.
“We have all the modern-day conveniences set in a luxurious location, and surrounded by award-winning wines,” Hensel says. “After the business is out of the way, we transition into a private behind-the-scenes tour of the winery. The private tour typically includes barrel samples and tank tastings, and ends in our cellar. On special occasions, we try wines from our library.”
In 2009, three Texas winemakers—Pat Brennan of Brennan Vineyards, Gene Estes of Lost Oak Winery and Kim McPherson of McPherson Cellars—began exploring the idea of opening a winery in Fredericksburg, explains Cristol Corpus, wedding and event manager. 4.0 Cellars opened its doors in April 2012. The custom-designed outdoor and indoor areas are the perfect combination of modern architecture, casual elegance and Hill Country charm, Corpus says.
4.0 Cellars serves wines from Brennan Vineyards, Lost Oak Winery and McPherson Cellars.
“Whether your group desires a small, intimate meeting in our boardroom or a large group dinner in our covered pavilion, we are here to help provide a unique and memorable experience,” Corpus says. “We also offer seated educational experiences with our cheese and wine or chocolate and wine pairings that have proven to be the perfect addition to any out-ofoffice event.”
In addition to the tasting room, the winery offers three additional event space options, including an outdoor space under a majestic oak tree charmingly called The Wedding Oak. The board room adjacent to the tasting room is a smaller, more private space complete with a large conference table, and upholstered chairs and benches. The Pavilion, located among the old live oaks and surrounded by lush greenery, is a large, lighted and covered area with an outdoor fireplace that’s perfect for dancing.