The Canyon Lake Times Guardian

Hill Country Wine Fest spotlights Canyon Lake winery

By Paul Heidelberg

In the early 1980s, Texas wineries produced about 200,000 gallons of wine. The Lonestar State wine business has been booming ever since, with wineries springing up all over the state, including in Central Texas.

Texas now produces more than 2,000,000 gallons of wine a year, and ranks fifth in wine production in the nation, exceeded only by California, Oregon, Washington and New York.

The Hill Country is smack dab in the middle of the burgeoning wine boom, and Dry Comal Creek Vineyards on Herbelin Road off SH 46, a few miles from Smithson Valley High School, is one of the area’s leading vintners.

(To see the Times Guardian’s photo/writing package on Dry Comal Creek Vineyards, go to the newspaper’s Web site,, click on recent stories link, then click on “Great wines: Deep in the Heart of Texas” link from the Dec. 13 edition.)

Dry Comal Creek Vineyards will join other Hill Country wineries such as Fall Creek Vineyards, located in Tow, near Lake Buchanan, and Flat Creek Estate of Marble Falls at the 22nd Annual Texas HIll Country Wine and Food Festival in Austin, March 28 to April 1. More than 50 wineries from throughout the nation and the world will be represented, including Ridge and Murphy-Goode wineries from California and Penfolds from Australia. One year the prestigious Wine Spectator magazine named the 1990 Penfolds Grange wine the best red wine in the world.

A reserve tasting of Penfolds Grange older vintage wines conducted by winery spokesperson Jamie Steward will be from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Friday, March 30.

Dry Comal Creek will participate in several events at the festival, including the Stars Over Texas event from 7:30 to 10 p.m. Friday, March 30 at the Hilton Hotel in Austin, when more than 40 wines and spirits from throughout the world will be presented.

You can get more information about the Texas HIll Country Wine and Food Festival by visiting the Web site or by calling (512) 249-6300.

When San Antonio attorney Franklin Houser bought a house and 103 acres in the then wilds of Comal County in 1973, he had no idea he would use the land to grow grapes and make wine. The house and land were meant simply as a rural retreat.But, in 1993 he began growing grapes and making wines and has steadily garnered a reputation for creating fine wines – and sherries and ports.

He uses the Black Spanish grape, native to Texas, to produce his award-winning port, which he ages outdoors in barrels, year-round, for three years and a day.

The winery is a family operation, and representing Dry Comal Creek Vineyards at a recent press luncheon in San Antonio to preview the Texas Hill Country Wine and Food Festival was daughter Sabrina Houser-Amaya and son-in-law Hector Amaya. The Housers make wines and ports and sherries from grapes grown in vineyards at the winery and from grapes and juice shipped in from out of state, including California, in refrigerated containers.

Tasting Dry Comal Creek Vineyards’ French Colombard, unoaked Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet Franc, you would have no idea the basis for these wines had traveled hundreds of miles before the wines’ creation.

It is remarkable to consider what the Texas wine making industry has brought to the Lone Star State. The state’s early European settlers created wines from wild Mustang grapes that used to grow throughout Central Texas. Now vintners such as those at Dry Comal Creek produce world-class wines that compare favorably to their counterparts from California, Oregon and Washington, not to mention Australia and Europe.

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