Meet The Winemaker: Lewis Wines
Located in Johnson City, Lewis Wines believes that great wine is made in the vineyard. Established in 2010, Lewis Wines aims to produce world-class wines using 100% Texas grapes. They work closely alongside their grape growers to ensure they bottle only the best the state has to offer. We sat down with Doug Lewis, co-owner and winemaker at Lewis Wines, to learn more about their winemaking process.
What led you to become a winemaker?
I was always interested in agriculture and enjoyed drinking wine. After a summer in Europe and a couple of special wine bottles from different places – I knew I wanted to be a winemaker.
What has surprised you about being a winemaker?
It’s almost fairer to ask what hasn’t. The number of things to understand and be good at to grow and produce wines successfully is endless. The wines themselves have been huge surprises; so many of the vineyards are young, and the grape varieties aren’t common.
What are some of the biggest challenges you face as a winemaker, and how have you overcome them?
The biggest challenges for us right now are learning how to be better farmers and winemakers. Understanding what the vineyards are giving us and why our successes and failures are what they are. Another huge challenge has been trying to get growers to understand why we can’t use herbicides and synthetic fertilizers.
What goals in winemaking are you still working to achieve?
Pancakes and champagne some mornings after harvest instead of donuts and beer! Always to make great wine and work to improve the wines, without changing too much too fast. More focus – not making crazy decisions about how to make a wine when I haven’t had enough sleep.
What is one of your favorite varietals to work with, and why?
Mourvèdre, which is versatile and shows off the vineyard well.
Which wine that you’ve made is your favorite?
I don’t have a favorite, but right now, I’m enjoying the 2017 Estate Rosé and the 2013 Round Mountain Tinto Cão.
Who do you most admire in the world of Texas wine, and why?
I have a lot of love and respect for many of the great people in the Texas Wine industry, but I’d have to say Bill Blackmon and Kim McPherson. Both were early pioneers of quality wine in Texas, and both of their brands have helped put Texas on the map. They paved the way for winemakers like Duncan and me, and the best wines being made today are coming from something that started with them and a few others, in my opinion.
What do you hope for the future of Texas Wine?
More vineyards and more delicious wine! I hope for more differentiation between wineries and bars and honest labels.
Any tips for future generations of winemakers?
Work a season in a vineyard. Work harvest for a producer whom you enjoy their wines. Don’t be scared to try new things, to fail, and talk with other producers who have experience with what you’re interested in.
Make a reservation today and enjoy a bottle of Texas wine while you take in excellent views of the Pedernales River Basin. Their team of knowledgeable staff is sure to pair you with a bottle of wine you’ll love. Book a reservation through their website or give them a call. We’d love to see your visit to Lewis Wines; share your picture with us by tagging us on Facebook at @TexasHillCountryWineries and Instagram at @texashillcountrywine.