(Article Updated 6/14/2017)
I like wine. I like Texas. And here’s a really cool thing about Texas. Wineries are popping up all over the place. I’ve seen them in various regions in Texas, but I’ve never had the pleasure of going. Sugar Ridge Winery was my first trip to a local winery.
Normally my husband is the designated driver, but he was working. I called Edye, a close friend, who’s probably as crazy as I am, and we headed to Sugar Ridge Winery for an adventure. When you’re middle-aged, adventures are few and far between.
Sugar Ridge Winery is in the country, on some beautiful acreage that’s been in the family for generations. As Edye and I drove in, we were greeted by an extremely friendly dog. We headed into the winery, introduced ourselves, and got down to business.
The owners of Sugar Ridge Winery, Don and Michele Andrews, have been making wine for coming up on three years. I got to speak with Michele, who is, as you can imagine, a very busy woman!
When asked how she got into the business of making wine, Michele said she received a wine making kit for Christmas. She created some wine, shared it with family and friends, and she was hooked. Michele and Don started Sugar Ridge in April of 2011, and they are still in the growth process. In fact, Michele and Don work full time jobs in addition to running the winery.
I asked Michele what she liked best about having a winery. It only took a second for Michele to say her favorite part was meeting people.
I believe it.
Wine tasting is a fine art, much like coffee cupping. The entire point is to get the wine to spray across as many of your taste buds as possible. This makes you slurp. If you slurp too hard, you’ll pull the liquid into your bronchial tubes and spend the next ten minutes coughing. (Not that anyone I know would do that.)
Some wineries give you tiny cups for their tastings. Not so at Sugar Ridge. We were given a generous amount in a regular wine glass. (Not a full serving because, after all, you don’t want to have to call a cab to get home safely.) As the wine was poured, we were given a little background: How the wine got its name, the label, flavor, and any awards that it had won. We had a chance to savor the wine, and then the glass was rinsed and the next wine was poured.
Sugar Ridge Winery rotates wine tastings, but these are the wines we tried during our visit.
Light White is a un-oaked Chardonnay. It is very fruity and has a sweet finish, but not so sweet that it’s a dessert wine. I liked it a lot.
This white wine smells like Sprite and tastes like lemon drops. Very light, very refreshing, and I’m told it makes an awesome slushy.
Little Green Apple
This wine was described as tasting like a green Jolly Rancher. The funny thing was that the wine did. It won a silver medal in the 2013 Southwest Wine Challenge.
This wine was a gold medal winner in the Southwest Wine Challenge. I loved it! The wine was smooth, smoky, and very full bodied. I got hungry for some good barbecue when I was tasting this one.
I really liked Heritage, but it was a little dry for me. It’s a Cabernet and Merlot blend. I think it was Edye’s favorite.
I was really looking forward to this one. Merlot with blackberry flavoring? Yes, please! This wine won a silver medal in the Southwest Wine Challenge. Do you see a pattern here? Anyway, it was good, but it wasn’t my favorite. It lacked the complexity of the other wines and was more like Kool-Aid.
I could have guzzled an entire vat of this wine. It smells of mixed citrus fruit and it’s somewhat sweet. The wine’s a fruity blend of oranges, lemons, limes, strawberries, and grapes.
My mom used to make spiced pears. She’d pack them in jars and pour a hot syrup over them. On those days, the entire house smelled like cloves and cinnamon. Guess what? This wine smells just like that. It’s deliciously pear-tasting with a hint of cloves and cinnamon. The winery serves it warm but I liked it better at a cool, room temperature.
This wine is a Chianti with a sweet-tart, cranberry flavor that’s unique. It was delicious but not my favorite.
While we were there, a couple came in to stock up on some wine. The winery doesn’t sell through many stores, but they do ship. It seems like people come in mostly to chat, pick up wine, and maybe a few things from the gift shop – tee shirts, ornaments, corkscrews, and things like that.
You know how small towns are. We started talking and joking around. One thing that become apparent to me was the customers have a relationship with the owners. This isn’t like walking into Spec’s and getting out as quickly as you came. This is about neighbors and friends. When you go, you’ll find Sugar Ridge Winery, and Don and Michele, warm and welcoming.
That’s the reason I like to buy from small, local businesses. I’ll definitely make this trip again.
Once the customers left, we headed back to where the vats were. Those things are huge!
I was surprised at the small space. You’d think making and selling wine would require a lot of space, but apparently it doesn’t. There were several huge stainless steel vats, an area with a sink, and boxes stacked up against the wall.
One of the most interesting things was that this building was once an old horse barn. Don and Michele turned the entire barn into the winery and tasting area.
The inside area is really too small to hold many people, but there’s a gorgeous patio area with chimeras, tables, and chairs. You can sit and sip your favorite wines in this relaxing atmosphere. The Andrews will even build fires for you when it’s chilly.
The landscape is rolling and dotted with trees. I’m told that it’s especially beautiful during bluebonnet season when the fields are covered with that gorgeous, Texas blue.
I gave Edye a solid hint that anyone with an April birthday (that would be me) might love to have a little get-together here. When I say solid hint I mean I told her flat out.
Sugar Ridge Winery is located at 353 Sugar Ridge Road in Ennis, Texas, 75119. The phone number is 972-666-2888. The hours of operation are Friday, 12 p.m. until 7 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. until 7 p.m., and Sunday 12 p.m. until 5 p.m.
If you loved what you read, check out our other post about Texas wines. We’ve begun a series that will continue to grow, wine by wine.
Photos courtesy of Marye Audet.