When Dr. Pat Brennan and wife Trellise decided to leave the world of medicine in Fort Worth for grape growing and wine making, the couple moved to Comanche and established Brennan Vineyards which put Comanche on the map for all the wine enthusiasts around the country. The Winery and the Brennans since 2001 have contributed not only to the economy of Comanche County, but also through their generosity, hospitality, and loyalty to the community. Their winery and their award-winning wines are sometimes the only reason visitors come to Comanche, but then they find other interesting places to visit when in town. And that’s a good thing.
Brennan Vineyards opened with a building for the winery, the historic 1879 McCrary House as the tasting room decorated with western/country elegance, the Austin House for events with its full, commercial kitchen, as well as a refurbished barn also for casual events. In all, the grounds are stunning, using all local stone, wood and earthtones for a totally natural setting, says winemaker Randall Vemer. Brennan grapes are grown in the Comanche Vineyard, as well as the Newburg Vineyard, 10 miles south of Comanche.
Brennans’ “sophisticated wine with Texas roots” is stored and aged in French and American oak barrels. Todd Webster, Brennans’ winemaker, has been a vital part of the success of the winery, as well as the other hard-working staff in the tasting room and vineyards. Early on in the business, along with Pat and Trellise, Lance and Jan Wilkerson, Jim and Nancy Wilkerson, all of Comanche, and the Brennan sons, Shawn and Michael and their wives, Susie and Denise became partners. There are more partners today. . Part of the early success of the business was due to Pat’s belief in consulting with wine and grape experts, as well as experienced winery and vineyard owners.
In April 2002, about 30 community friends, including neighbors from Fort Worth, former medical partners and family came to plant the first vineyard with viognier vines. A heavy rain had fallen the night before, but stopped in time for the planting to begin in the muddy ground. A friend from Fort Worth said they had to stop at a car wash to get the thick and clinging mud off their shoes. By 2005, the Comanche Vineyard had processed 50 tons, about 3,000 cases.
When the Brennans first went into the wine business there were only 104 wineries in Texas. Today there are over 400, making it 5th largest in the U.S. wine industry. Today, over 1.5 million gallons of wine is bottled. Proposition 11 passed in 2003, allowing Texas wineries to make, sell and dispense wine in any area of the state, even in dry counties. Dry areas would still keep local control of other alcoholic beverage sales. This was a big boost to the wine industry in the state.
Brennan Vineyards is an outstanding success story, but as Pat said one time to columnist Jeff Siegel The Wine Curmudgeon, “I think we’re all attracted winemaking by the romance, but I sure didn’t appreciate the level of work and investment involved. I knew it was going to be expensive, but I grossly underestimated both of those.”
See Brennans’ website for more information about the Wine Club, tastings, and a listing of available wines for sale. Brennanvineyards.com or phone 325-356-9100. The winery is located at 802 S. Austin St.
Regarding wine and food pairings, the traditional guidelines are:“White wine with fish and white meats, red wine with red meats and heavier, more robust foods, and rose (pink) wine with everything else,” and “White before red, and dry before sweet.” Wines should be consistent with the various courses in the meal, generally building from lighter to heavier (appetizers to main course). According to the experts, starting wines should not be too big and rich or too filling. When you begin with a sparkling wine, its effervescence will refresh the palate, as will any wine that is light in alcohol, clean, crisp (good acidity) and flavorful. As the meal progresses, the wines can become bigger and richer, matching the food. But, much of the pairings are based on personal preference.
As Mark Twain said in 1895, “There are no standards of taste in wine, cigars, poetry, prose, etc. Each man’s own taste is the standard and a majority vote cannot decide for him or in any slightest degree affect the supremacy of his own standard.”
Regarding color of wine, if you can see through a red wine, it’s generally ready to drink! As white wines age, they gain color. Red wines, on the other hand, lose color as they age.
Why do we swirl wine? To allow oxygen to get into the wine.
Smell is the most important part of wine tasting. You can perceive just four tastes, sweet, sour, bitter and salt, but the average person can identify more than 2,000 different scents.
Tasting wine is something you do with your taste buds. You have taste buds all over your mouth. When you taste, leave the wine in your moth for three to five seconds before swallowing. Then, sit silently for 60 seconds, according to wine experts.
And remember, wine prices do not necessarily reflect quality. CHEERS!