My friend Mike told me they’re making wine in Alpine now. “Alpine, Texas?” I asked. Really? Because although I’ve never been there I think I know a few things about the place: It’s near where Giant was filmed. It’s ranch-y. And it’s flat and arid.
Mike’s an honest cowboy, and he wouldn’t try to sell me some oceanfront property in Alpine. But he did go on to tell me that I’m geographically challenged. Alpine actually is mountainous and fertile — apparently, volcanoes once regularly erupted there centuries ago. And from what I know about winemaking, volcanic soil makes good grapes. Somewhere by the mountains is where the Cathedral Mountain Vineyard concocts its red eponymously named vintage. The vineyard also bottles wine from grapes grown in other parts of the country.
Like most other vineyards, Cathedral Mountain has a retail component. Times Ten Cellars originated in Dallas, but last year partners Steve Williams, Dustin Walker, and Madeline Shero expanded into Fort Worth, on Foch Street, not far from the sprawling Montgomery Plaza.
The trio had rehabbed an old office complex on the corner of Foch and Bledsoe. You’d never know by looking at it now what it once was. The interior is marvelous: all concrete flooring and sexy curtains and wide space and a lounge with a couch perfect for snuggling up with a bottle.
During happy hour, from 5 to 7p.m. every Tuesday and Wednesday, all the glasses of Times Ten wines are $5.50. That’s pretty happy. For $7.50, you can get a flight of maybe two-ounce pours of any four wines of your choice; a great way to start if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Times Ten’s Cathedral Mountain Vineyard red was a gorgeous rosy color. It tasted like cherries to me, with a little spice (the label says it’s “clove”). I am thankful that I couldn’t taste the other accents, which apparently include “turned earth.” Since it was happy hour, I also tried the Malbec, described as “a vibrant cherry bomb with hints of chocolate and lavender.” All I know is that it tasted good enough to warrant buying the bottle. Not a problem: Everything that comes in a glass can be purchased by the bottle.
My fellow revelers and I also sampled some white wines, just to, you know, be polite. The sauvignon blanc was lovely and lemony and probably would have gone nicely with fish if we’d had any. Times Ten doesn’t have much in the way of eats. You can order some appetizers that are brought in from Lambert’s Steaks, Seafood & Whiskey over on White Settlement Road, or you can bring in your own take-out. The bar has several local restaurant numbers on speed-dial, and frankly the Pinot Grigio would have tasted great with a veggie pizza or maybe something from nearby La Familia. Just don’t bring homemade goodies: Keep the picnic potato salad away from the tasting room/bottling plant, please.
The wine from Times Ten is featured on several local restaurants’ wine lists, including Lambert’s, Reata Restaurant, and Tillman’s Roadhouse. The wine also can be purchased at Central Market in the Texas wine section. But to really appreciate the vino, you ought to go to the source. Times Ten Cellars’ tasting room is a beautiful place to relax, sit, sip, and look at pictures of the cathedral-like West Texas mountains. — Laurie Barker James
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