Messina Hof Wine and Roses Festival 2023

Your Complete Guide to Messina Hof Winery

The Accidental Vintners Who Pioneered the Texas Wine Industry – Messina Hof Winery

Growing Grapes in Texas

The moment you step foot inside the Messina Hof Winery and Resort, located in the iconic Brazos Valley of Bryan, Texas, you’ll know you’ve discovered something special. What you may not know, especially at first glance, is this now booming winery was once a meager one-acre experiment.

The year was 1977 when property owners Paul Vincent and Merrill Bonarrigo got their hands on a copy of a study about grape feasibility in Texas, developed by students at Texas A&M University. At the time, Texas possessed very few commercial vineyards, and the thought of creating wine using 100% Texas-grown grapes seemed unlikely due to the extreme summer heat. With study in hand, the Bonarrigos planted fifty varietals on that one-acre plot, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Chenin Blanc, and Lenoir. The rest, as they say, is history.

During the first four years, the Bonarrigos poured themselves into learning all they could about the vineyard lifestyle, from old-world practices to time-tested winemaking methods. The couple never planned to open a tasting room, but when neighbors kept knocking on their door asking to try their wine, the idea for a tasting room took root. Leaning into their heritage, the winery’s name is a nod to their ancestors. Paul Vincent’s family emigrated from Messina, Italy, and Merrill’s family from Hof, Germany.

The Texas Wine Industry is Born

The award-winning legacy began in 1981 when Messina Hof received its first medal at the Texas State Fair for their Lenoir Cabernet Blend. Messina Hof’s mission statement sprang to life at that moment: “Anything is Possible.” As the 1980s progressed, the Bonarrigos experienced rapid growth. By 1983, the detailed planting of two additional vineyards (for a total of 8 acres) allowed Paul and Merrill to produce a whopping 1300 gallons of wine.

With this increase in production came the first commercial release of three varieties – Cabernet Sauvignon, Chenin Blanc, and my personal favorite, Papa Paulo Port. Producing and bottling 500 cases of wine back then was no small feat. Priding themselves in using one-hundred percent Texas-grown grapes, Messina Hof painstakingly registered each bottle and authored a certificate of authenticity. By 1987, distribution had reached across the entire state of Texas. By 1989, they were shipping cases to Japan.

As one acre grew to many and the years passed, Messina Hof accumulated many more accolades and awards. Perhaps the biggest of those blessings was when the couple welcomed a new generation of winemakers to the family with the birth of their son, Paul Mitchell. Today, Paul Mitchell and his wife, Karen, continue the Texas Wine legacy alongside Paul Vincent and Merrill. He is the Chief Executive Officer and Head Winemaker, and she the Director of Administration.

Messina Hof Winery’s Agritourism Roots: Sip and Stay

What was once a meager plot of land in Bryan, Texas, has morphed into one of the nation’s best wine destinations. Nearly 40 years later, Messina Hof winery in Bryan has created a resort-style property where visitors can enjoy an air-conditioned tasting room, tour the winemaking operation, graze locally-grown cuisine inside the full-service restaurant on site, and even stay overnight in The Villa Bed & Breakfast.    

A stay at the villa is unlike any other bed and breakfast that you’ve likely experienced. Each of the eleven rooms, each with its own ensuite bathroom, has its own theme in dedication to romantic literary icons like Romeo & Juliet. With balconies overlooking the vineyard, private patios, oversized tubs, and historic furnishings, it might just rise to the top of the list of all-time best Bed & Breakfast experiences in Texas.

Messina Hoff Hill Country

But the Bonarrigos didn’t stop there. In 2011, they opened a second location along Route 290 in the Texas Hill Country of Fredericksburg, Texas, the nation’s second-largest wine tourism destination. Here, you can spread out over nearly 10 acres among the Lenoir grape vines used to create traditional-style port wines. The Manor Haus Bed & Breakfast suites offer an intimate getaway for two in their one-bedroom, one-bath cottages on the property. Walk to the tasting room from your front door to enjoy over 50 wines, including reserve wines located only on the Fredericksburg property. Round out your tasting experience with gourmet appetizers and weekly food specials.

Messina Hof Grapevine

If a historic downtown wine-tasting experience is more your vibe, Messina Hof has you covered there, too. Located inside the landmark Wallis Hotel, mere blocks from Grapevine Lake, you’ll find the first urban location, the Messina Hof Grapevine Tasting Room. Boasting forty different wines, delectable small plates, tasting flights, and wine on tap, falling in love with downtown Grapevine just got a whole lot easier. As an ode to the original hotel, the tasting room displays many furnishings and pieces once found in the pioneer Wallis. This reproduction building no longer operates as a hotel but check out the options nearby in downtown Grapevine.

Messina Hof Harvest Green Winery & Kitchen

As the newest member of the Messina Hof family, Harvest Green offers an elevated wine and food experience. Situated in the southwest Houston suburb of Richmond, among a master-planned community of 1300 acres of Texas farmland, the restaurant and tasting room provides the perfect spot to mingle with family, friends, and neighbors. The Winery & Kitchen offers a full-service dining room, a tasting room, and wood-fired pizza and wine growlers to go for a cozy night at home.

Messina Hof Wine & Roses Festival

Each year in early May, Messina Hof puts on one of the country’s best wine festival events. A full day of sipping, strolling, shopping, and eating awaits as you enter the gates. From local artists to crafters, and food vendors to wine accessories, it’s a must-do experience for any wine lover.

Your entrance fee gets you an event t-shirt, a sampling glass, drink coupons, and a keepsake bag. You must show a valid ID at the entrance and always keep your wristband on if you are sampling wine. Event staff are easily identifiable in their staff t-shirts and are available at every turn. Need help to decide what you like? Just ask. And when you’re ready for bottled water in between pours, large coolers are scattered throughout the grounds – and the water is free.

Insider Tips:

Bring a picnic basket, a blanket, or folding chairs and grab a spot on the lush lawn close to the main tent. From here, you’ll be close enough to the main tent to hear the live music. Just beyond the main tent is the air-conditioned tasting room. If you want to grab a seat inside, you’d better arrive early because seats fill up fast – especially if the temperatures are soaring. There is also a shaded patio area to the rear of the tasting room with seating that offers a great view of the pond.

Several pouring stations are located throughout the event, so there’s no standing in line for more than a few minutes to grab your next pour. Each wine varietal can be sampled by a taste (2 ounces) or a full pour (4 ounces) and will cost you a certain amount of drink tickets depending on the style you choose. Overhead signs easily mark where you can find reds, whites, and even wine slushies.

At Messina Hof, even your bathroom needs are elevated. Air-conditioned luxury restroom trailers provide a nice alternative to the typical port-o-pot and are also plentiful, so we didn’t have to stand in line. This may seem like a little thing, but I assure you, it’s not. A clean and odor-free place to tinkle is a gift, especially on a hot spring day in Texas!

Conclusion

The pioneers of the Texas wine industry have found a way to elevate every aspect of enjoying your vino of choice. From their infrastructure to their delectable wines, Messina Hof is constantly raising the bar for the wine industry in the United States.

If you’ve not yet sampled a Messina Hof pour, you are most certainly missing out. Whether you grab a spot in one of their many tasting rooms scattered throughout the Texas Hill Country, or you order online, Messina Hof wines will not disappoint even the most scrupulous of wine lovers. 

Author

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

en_USEnglish
Verified by MonsterInsights