Guest article by Natalie Parra-Novosad
What if you could hop in the car after a long week, drive 25 minutes and end up in the Tuscan countryside sipping Italian wine? Lucky for Austinites, we can get strikingly close to this experience by visiting Duchman Family Winery in Driftwood, TX.
Duchman Family Winery is one of Texas Hill Country’s best wineries, and it’s close enough for some South Austinites to visit on a week day. As you head down the long, narrow driveway and see the Tuscan-style buildings, tall Italian cypress trees and expansive vineyard come into view, you’ll feel a bit lighter as the weight of the real world fades away.
History of Duchman Family Winery
Duchman Family Winery (pronounced duke-man) was founded in 2004 by Drs. Lisa and Stan Duchman. They had a passion for old world Italian wines and dreamed of producing them in the Texas Hill Country. That’s when they began working with a viticulturalist from North Texas to make their dream a reality.
They started the cultivation of Italian grapes such as montepulciano, sangiovese and anglianico in Texas soil. In 2008, the Duchmans hired expert Texas winemaker, Dave Reilly, who has produced world-class, award-winning wines for Duchman over the years using all Texas grapes.
The Tasting Room
After parking and absorbing the beautiful landscape, you’ll observe the Tuscan theme continuing as you enter the winery and step into the tasting room. Its small, high windows, tall ceilings, stone walls and wooden beams create a cozy and inviting space for trying all of the Duchman wines. Taste any six wines for $12 and then have a glass (or two) of your favorite.
On pleasant fall or spring days, sit at one of the outside tables under sprawling oak trees and let your eyes wander through the vineyard while you thoughtfully sip a glass of Duchman’s finest. Here are some brief tasting notes to help you during your first trip:
- Trebbiano – Duchman trebbiano is made from 100% Texas-grown trebbiano grapes. It’s white grape varietal and a staple white wine in Italy. Their trebbiano is dry, crisp and has a good level of acidity with notes of citrus and tropical fruits. Consider taking a bottle home to pair with seafood. It’s especially good with oysters on the half shell.
- Aglianico – Duchman estate aglianico is made from the grapes that grow in their vineyard in front of the winery. (Their other grapes are sourced from the High Plains region of North Texas.) Aglianico grapes are commonly grown in Basilicata and Campania, Italy. Duchman’s aglianico won the Bronze award at the 2011 San Francisco International Wine Competition. It’s dry and full-bodied with notes of baking spices. Bring a bottle home to serve with braised meats or spaghetti Bolognese.
- Montepulciano – Montepulciano is a red varietal and another Italian staple. Duchman’s montepulciano is an earthy wine with notes of blackberry and cherry.
- Dolcetto – Dolcetto is a red grape varietal popular in the Piedmont region of Italy. Duchman dolcetto contains notes of plum and blackberry, and their 2008 vintage won the double gold award at the San Francisco International Wine Competition in 2010.
There are several other delicious wines to try, including the viognier and vermentino. Duchman Family Winery usually has a limited-edition seasonal wine, such as the montepulciano rose.
If You Get Hungry
Trattoria Lisina is right next door to the winery serving antipasti, salads, pizza, pasta, osso buco and other Italian favorites. Another option is to head down the road to The Salt Lick BBQ. You can bring your own bottle of wine from Duchman and enjoy world-famous Texas BBQ. Remember that this location is cash-only.
Tours and Upcoming Events
Jeff Ogle, Duchman general manager, shared, “It’s an exciting time of year to visit the winery, as we are entering harvest season. Over the next several weeks we will be receiving shipments of grapes from the High Plains.” Duchman provides winery tours to the public on Saturdays at 12, 2 and 4 p.m., or you can call to request an appointment for a private tour. Harvest time is ideal for catching a glimpse of the beginning of the wine-making process.
Duchman Family Winery will celebrate its 10-year anniversary over Labor Day weekend with live music and tasting room specials.
13308 Ranch to Market Road 150, Driftwood, TX – Website
@theAustinot wants to know:
Which of Duchman’s wines is your favorite?
An inherent food-lover, Natalie Parra-Novosad grew up in her father’s BBQ joint in small-town Texas. After living in various cities, she’s back in Austin and loves writing about the local food and wine scene.
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