9996 US-290 E.
Fredericksburg, TX 78624
4545 Old Reliance Road
Bryan, TX USA 77808
The Vintage House Restaurant: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Villa Bed & Breakfast: email@example.com
Weddings and Special Events: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tasting Room and Wine Bar: email@example.com
201 South Main Street
Grapevine, TX USA 76051
8921 Harlem Rd
Richmond, TX 77406
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At Messina Hof Hill Country, children are welcome on winery tours and in the tasting room, and grape juice is provided in lieu of wine. Reservations are required to visit the property. Food purchases are also required. The Sip Survival Kits are a fun alternative where you can enjoy wine and cheese pairings from the comfort of your hotel or vacation rental!
Why does Messina Hof sound like a good glass of wine? If you take the name of this winery you get a little bit of Italian and a little bit of German, both countries have been making wine for thousands of years. The ancient German Region of Westphalia, nestled between the Rhine and Wesser rivers, is the home of the German name Hof, which originally belonged to a wine producing abbey. The name Messina derives from the ancient and beautiful Italian island of Sicily. As the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, Sicily has served as a crossroads for civilizations throughout the ages.
The Greeks, Phoenicians, Arabs and Italians have all passed through and left their charms on Sicily. The Greeks brought advanced viticulture techniques to an island that has been making wine since 4000 BC. Its dry, warm climate features regular sunshine and moderate rainfall that suits wine production. Arid conditions reduce the chance of rot and mildew, especially in areas flooded with coastal breezes.
Sicily has three key red grapes: Nero d’Avola, Frappato, and Nerello Mascalese. Grillo is one of the best-known Sicilian white grapes.
Marsala wine is made with local white grape varietals including Grillo, Inzolia, Catarratto, and Damaschino. Marsala is supplemented with a distilled spirit—it’s usually brandy.
Despite its popularity as a dry and semi-dry cooking wine, a high-quality Marsala can also be an excellent sweet wine. It’s increasingly common to see it served as an aperitif or to sip after a meal.
German wine is primarily produced in West Germany on steep vineyards directly overlooking the Rhine river, some of the oldest plantations go as far back as the Roman era. This region’s vineyards are dominated by white wine grapes, with Riesling being the most grown variety. The river valleys, whose heat-storing capacity is especially well suited to this variety.
Paul Vincent, a sixth-generation winemaker, and his wife Merrill Bonarrigo established Messina Hof’s first vineyard in Bryan, Texas in 1977. It was an experimental vineyard with 50 varietals of grapes including Cabernet Sauvignon, Chenin Blanc and Black Spanish (Lenoir). At that time, there were few commercial vineyards in Texas and they helped pioneer a growing Texas wine industry.
Watch this video where Paul takes you on a tour of the Messina Hof estate.
They continued to practice winemaking, enduring one of Texas agriculture’s great feats of growing grapes of ample quality to produce a fine wine. This practice included studying books to understand how grapes grew along with the experience of working the land. Dedicating their livelihood to the vineyard lifestyle by observing and honing their skills, Messina Hof finally brought about a wine win with a medal from the Texas State Fair in 1981.
Not their only source of income, Paul practiced his training as a physical therapist, while building their wine empire. Paul Bonarrigo, studied physical therapy at Columbia University, founded St. Joseph Hospital’s physical therapy department in Bryan and he also sits as CEO of Bryan-based “The Sports and Back Clinic.”
The twin cities of Bryan and College Station center their economic and social life around the main campus of Texas A&M University. A public land-grant research university, it was founded in 1876 and became the flagship institution of the Texas A&M University System in 1948. As of 2020, Texas A&M’s student body is the largest in the United States and is designated as a land, sea, and space grant institution—the only university in Texas to hold all three designations.
Merrill Bonarrigo returned to Bryan, Texas and thought the region would welcome a new crop of farming. Early in the 20th century, Bryan had a number of rich cotton-producing lands. Merrill graduated in the class of 1975 as part of the first female graduating classes of Texas A&M University. Messina Hof is rooted in “Aggieland,” crafting 100% Texas wines from Texas grapes. They are constantly giving back to the community that supported them in the early years of their experiment. An experiment that has produced award winning wines that The Association of Former Students and Messina Hof are proud to offer for all Aggies to enjoy.
Messina Hof has partnered with the university to create Texas wine especially for Aggies including a Gig ‘em Red and a Midnight Yell. Read the links to learn more about Texas A&M University traditions to understand the history behind the names.
In the Bryan/College Station area Messina Hof grows a Lenoir grape, or Black Spanish. They use it to produce their world-class, award-winning port wines. There are also vineyards in West Texas that are at 3,700 feet of elevation in deep, well-irrigated soils. Vineyards north of Lubbock are similar in climate to Germany and Burgundy, and south of Lubbock the hill country is similar to the Bordeaux region in France. Messina Hof is able to grow Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and transitional grapes of Pinot Grigio and Sangiovese, which are very well suited for the Texas climate and soil type.
As asked in a Houston Business Journal article, Does the Texas climate pose any challenges to wine-making unfound in other wine growing regions? CEO, Paul Bonarrigo remarked the challenges faced in Texas are the same challenges vineyard owners have had since the beginning of grape history—Mother Nature.
By 1983, they had enough wine to release their first commercial vintage. Messina Hof became a fixture at every wine and food event in Central Texas, pouring wines that in those days seemed unusual for the region, such as Riesling and Gewurztraminer. If local Texans couldn’t pronounce their names, it didn’t hold them back from enjoying these crisp, refreshing wines.
Expansion continued when Messina Hof began Texas distribution, and in 1989 they expanded into Japan. A 1990 vintage, Angel Late Harvest Riesling became the first Texas wine to score 90 in Wine Spectator magazine.
Then in 1991, U.S. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Kika de La Garza of Mercedes decided Texas wines should have an appearance at Internationally acclaimed, Vin Italy. Their booth was a new image in the wine world, they had a banner showing the silhouette of a cowboy on a horse against a setting sun, the iconic Texas image.
Nowadays, Messina Hof’s estate vineyard features over thirty acres of vineyard growing Lenoir grapes, which are used in crafting Messina Hof’s legendary ports. Messina Hof also controls about 900 acres of vineyards across the state of Texas, producing about 60,000 cases of wine per year.
To make a romantic weekend getaway, they offer a fine dining experience at the Vintage House Restaurant, a stay at the Villa Bed & Breakfast, a tour of the winery with a Champagne breakfast and a wine and cheese reception. They offer wine tours and wine tasting throughout the week, both public and private. You can always drop in to the wine bar for a quick tasting or to sip your favorite wine.
In 2011, the Bonarrigos opened a second winery in the Texas Hill Country. They knew this was someplace special when they planted here as the 290 wine trail was growing in popularity. Opening 10 acres in the heart of Texas wine country along Highway 290, this winery also has its own vineyard and accommodations at The Manor Haus Bed and Breakfast. The spacious tasting room features over 50 Messina Hof wines including wine on tap and canned wines.
The following year, the company was officially passed down to their son Paul Mitchell who took over as chief executive officer with his wife Karen. Continuing the family legacy, the couple opened a third property, Messina Hof Grapevine Winery in 2014. This one is located at the Historic Wallis Hotel in Grapevine, Texas, near Dallas.
An urban winery gives them a chance to source grapes from multiple vineyards. The key difference is that the winemaker doesn’t use grapes from the vineyard. Instead, vineyards deliver temperature-controlled grapes to a given urban winery, where they’re crushed and/or pressed, aged, and eventually bottled on site. It means that blends might be very diverse, combining grapes from totally unique terroir, and introducing drinkers to grapes they might not be familiar with.
Retailers such as H-E-B, Total Wine & More, and Spec’s have embraced Texas wines and have dedicated aisles to Texas wine.
Messina Hof has weathered many issues and tribulations in its 43-year history, and 2020 continues to bring unprecedented challenges but also opportunities. Working side by side with their growers to produce exceptional wines, the 2020 vintage is set to be one of the best the estate has ever made.
Texas will never be California in terms of wine production Bonarrigo says, but in the past 40 years the Lone Star State has gained ground. Texas now ranks fifth in U.S. wine production; in 1980 it was 48th. The Texas Hill Country now ranks second in wine tourism after Napa.
Another winery is coming to Houston, Texas, as they have announced plans for their fourth Texas location: Messina Hof Harvest Green Winery, in a suburb of Houston.
The idea behind this 1,300 acre community is the “village farm.” When completed, Messina Hof Harvest Green Winery will be the largest winery in the Houston area. It will have a modern concept that engages the community and heavily emphasizes a sustainable design and water recapturing. They will make use of the onsite gardens and Harvest Green’s neighborhood farm to ensure a local village menu.
It takes a village to raise a good family of winemakers. Who knew that Texas would make that village a reality.
Raise your glass! Prost!