Dandy Rosé is the only wine in the world made especially for Austinites. Its creator, Rae Wilson, has even more to brag about: this Austin-exclusive rosé is made from 100 percent Texas grapes.
Wilson considers her rosé, now in its fourth year of production, to be “a love letter to Austin.” The sommelier-turned-winemaker is proving to the rest of the country that authentic and complex wine can be grown and produced in Texas.
Despite being grown in Texas Hill Country, Dandy Rosé belongs in the city. This rosé is dry, true to the French style. More of a light peach color than rose, the refreshing wine is elegant, classy, and very Texan (inside and out). Fruity notes of watermelon and cantaloupe open up to a crisp, dry finish that will go over well with any crowd.
From Sommelier to Winemaker
Rae Wilson is originally from St. Louis, with a history in the booze industry that began when she started working at Schlafly Beer. After a few years of learning the brewing process, she left to spend time pursuing creative passions.
Still, like most people, she needed to make money. Her work in bars and restaurants spanned almost 20 years. She started to gravitate towards fine dining, which required her to step up her knowledge of wine.
As she kept studying the culture and science of wine, it became her main focus. Traveling to Napa Valley and Europe, Wilson built upon her sommelier knowledge and began learning how to make wine. In 2011, she found herself in Texas Hill Country, working her first wine harvest.
100 Percent Texan, Now and Always
Anyone familiar with wine knows how expensive it is to build a vineyard and create your own wines. Often, it takes years of development before your wine is bottled and sold.
However, there is a way around this hurdle, and Wilson has taken full advantage of it. Through a model known in the industry as “custom crush,” she partners with a winery to use their equipment. All the while, she’s able to maintain the independence of her business.
Wilson also works with a great cellar that connects her with vineyards she wants to work with. These happen to be the ones growing southern French grape varieties. Wilson explained that they grow best in this region and can withstand Texas’ often unpredictable weather.
Even though she lacks her own winery, Wilson is able to work with other growers and producers across Texas through every step of the process. The result is Dandy Rosé. Wilson never anticipated that she would be making wine in Texas, but here she is, an “unexpected Texan.”
“Love Letter to Austin”
Austin-exclusive Dandy Rosé wine is released in limited supplies every spring, beating out many of the French rosés. While most budding begins in April, Texas gets to start the wine process much earlier, in February.
But it isn’t always easy-breezy for grape growers in Texas. Many wineries in the state are limited and release wine that contains grapes from out-of-state.
Never for Rae Wilson and Dandy Rosé, though.
She explained, “To me the only reason to make this is because it has a sense of place and, to me, I’m mostly interested in people who are going to be working with all Texas fruit.”
When I asked what would happen if we had a bad season in Texas, she said transparently, “If we can’t get fruit in Texas, there won’t be any Dandy Rosé.”
Rosé Doesn’t Need to Be Fussed Over
When I told Wilson I still have much to learn about wine, she reassured me. “Rosé is casual and doesn’t need to be fussed over.” Maybe not, but Austinites are fussing to get their hands on this Austin-made beverage. Each year since Dandy Rosé’s first release in 2014, Wilson has had to produce more to keep up with Austin’s thirst. The first batch was just one barrel, 25 cases. By 2016, the release had grown to 240 cases.
There are several Austin wine bars, restaurants, and stores that carry the rosé, including:
- Mattie’s at Green Pastures
- Second Bar + Kitchen
- Dai Due
- Olive & June
- Texas French Bread
- Cafe Josie
- Monger’s Market & Kitchen
- House Wine
- Whip In
- The Austin Wine Merchant
- Travis Heights Beverage World
- Live Oak Market
- Whole Foods downtown flagship
When I asked about Dandy Rosé’s future plans, Wilson answered, “I never knew that I would make wine in Texas, and yet I have this huge love for what I’m doing here and to be contributing to some part of it.”
Originally she intended to keep the project in Austin. Now she wants to go bigger, sharing Dandy Rosé with the rest of the state. Further down the road, she plans to start producing a small amount of a Dandy wine that she would keep in the Austin market. “Maybe a sparkling version,” she hinted.
Regardless of what the future holes, Wilson promises to “always keep something special in this project that is just for Austin.”
@BigWrldSmallGrl wants to know:
What’s your favorite place in Austin to have a glass of rosé?