Where do we begin to tell the story of this particular piece of Blue Mountain? We could start eons ago, when lava flows from the Paradise Mountain Caldera forged the rock that slowly, gently eroded over time into the volcanic soil we find here today. We could start with the humans and wildlife who made this mountain home, as tribes then nations were created and borders on the map moved around them. We could start in the 1970s with trailblazer and pioneer Gretchen Glasscock, who planted the first vineyard on this land. We could start a couple of decades later with the Weisbach family, especially matriarch Maymie "Nell" Weisbach, who created and ran the Blue Mountain Winery with such abiding care.
For us, Dan and Maura, the story begins in 2018, when we became the newest caretakers of this special place. Our Vineyard at Blue Mountain is high elevation (approx. 5,600 ft.) with rocky volcanic soil. That combination is unique in Texas and rare among all the grape growing regions of the world.
It would be an understatement to say that the Davis Mountains have a special place in our hearts. Having visited the area many times, we dreamed of one day living here. We think there's so much potential in the Texas Davis Mountains AVA (American Viticultural Area) and are excited to play a part in building on its grape growing tradition.
Dan, who grew up in Oregon's Willamette Valley, is the number one (and only) ranch hand and focuses his time on tending to the vines while conserving as much of the wild ranch land as possible. He is also enrolled in the Viticulture Certificate Program through Texas Tech.
Maura is pursuing formal wine industry education through WSET. She earned the Level 2 Award in Wine and Spirits in 2019 and plans to pursue the Level 3 certification soon. Originally from the New Orleans area, Maura is the on-ranch food and wine expert and really loves coming up with food pairings for the wines she's studying. Let's just say the one and only ranch hand is very well fed!
We do not view ourselves as owners of this special land as much as stewards of it for now -- until it's time to pass it on to the next generation. We want to conserve and protect as much natural habitat on the ranch as possible. We plan to farm sustainably, which includes having an economically sustainable business. We also want to create opportunities for others in our community to learn about wine grape growing and how they can be part of the Texas wine industry.
We are blessed that in addition to the humans and two vineyard dogs, a litany of wildlife call our ranch home -- mule deer, whitetail deer, Montezuma quail, blue quail, elk, mountain lions, javelina, aoudad, and a host of other birds, bees, bats and butterflies. This was their home long before it was ours.
We planted 1,500 new Cabernet Sauvignon vines in April 2020 and plan to add another 4,500 in 2021. Eventually, we hope to have up to 15 acres of productive vines. And in the future, we will open an estate winery on site, in partnership with talented Texas winemaker Ben Calais. But that seems like a long way off from where we sit right now.
For more information about our plans for the Vineyard at Blue Mountain, please check out our interview with the Fort Davis Chamber of Commerce or follow us on Instagram (@sharpfamvines) or Facebook (Sharp Family Vineyards).
Fort Davis, Texas, United States
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