Before we get started, there is an issue facing many Texas wineries: Do you only use 100% Texas grapes or do you source from somewhere else and call yourself a “made in Texas” winery? Fuqua Winery is an example of wine that is “made in Texas” which means that the wine is not 100% made from Texas grapes. But when asked, Lee Fuqua, the owner and winemaker, asked me an interesting question: should he use the best available grapes or should he use subpar Texas grapes? This is a dilemma facing most Texas wineries as there are more wineries than grapes here in Texas. Texas allows wineries to make wine “made in Texas” with juice from places like Lodi, California. Fuqua’s belief is to get the best grapes possible from Texas and supplement that with the best juice available, even if it is from California.
Fuqua has your stereotypical DFW winery location: a warehouse. This is not meant to be degrading; many great wineries in Texas come from a warehouse. Fuqua Winery makes the best of their situation by having what every winery wishes they had, a great front-of-house personality that makes every experience memorable.
You know you are in for a good time when you hear a person yelling “Hello!” from inside the building as you are getting out of your car. I may be a sucker for simple customer service but it just makes you feel welcome. This was my introduction to Mr. Lee Foster Fuqua. Lee Fuqua is the name and now partial winemaker of the facility and my favorite memory of the winery. Do you have that slightly crazy uncle that is the life of the party and everyone, whether they want to or not, is drawn to? This is just the start to the personality that is Lee Fuqua. I can honestly say I have never laughed as much as I did when tasting just three wines at his facility. Mr. Fuqua’s philosophy is to make sure that every person has a good time and to enjoy his wines and he succeeds with flying colors. He also seems to be making a pretty good product because he only had three of his wines available for tasting when we got there, having sold out of everything else.
Our lineup for the day was the 2008 Fuqua Chardonnay ($18.69) from Clarksburg, California, a traditional style of chardonnay with aromas of lemon, pear and flowers with some mango added on the palate, a good wine. Next came the ’09 Summer Cabernet. When smelling the wine, I noticed that there was a lot of bell pepper and asparagus on the nose, a common characteristic of High Plains cabernet but more than I was used to. When I asked Lee when he bottled this wine, he looked at his watch, thought for a moment and replied “about 12 to 16 hours.” This brings me to my teaching moment, when you first bottle a wine, there will be some green flavors and aromas in the wine that will diminish with some time in bottle. I am planning a return visit soon to see how the wine has settled and to try some more wines. Finally, the 2008 Courtney Cuvee #1 ($49.95) made by Courtney Key, recently promoted assistant winemaker. This is a cabernet franc base blend with floral aromatics of violets, lavender and black cherry, followed by a palate of the same, with some bay leaf and a slightly spicy finish. Delicious.
Overall, I thought the wines were good but overshadowed by Lee’s personality (in a good way). He was friendly, entertaining and a ton of fun. I look forward to going back, trying more wine and just shooting the bull.
3737 Atwell Street, Dallas