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Jonathan Reed
Jonathan Reed

Where To Buy Val Verde Wine \/\/FREE\\\\

Michael Qualia's not quite sure how to refer to himself. He's not ready to call himself the owner of the Val Verde winery in Del Rio. That's his dad, Tommy. Michael's willing to wait his turn to run the winery his great-grandfather founded in 1883. For the time being he's content to be "the guy who does anything that needs doing, whether it's driving a tractor or working on the bottling line."

where to buy val verde wine

Frank Qualia brought a tradition of winemaking with him when he immigrated to the United States from Italy in 1883. He found Black Spanish (Lenoir) grapes flourishing in the hot west Texas climate and knew just what to do with them. Fortifying the juice with grape brandy, he started making port wine. Those Black Spanish grapes are still the dominant varietal at the Val Verde Winery, which is best known for its Tawny Port.

"If you ask people what they remember most about visiting our winery," explains Qualia, "I would bet most of them would say the Don Luis Tawny Port. Whether they visited 25 years ago or 25 minutes ago, that's what everyone remembers." The Val Verde Tawny Port is marked by the typical brown/copper hue and has aromas of toffee and coffee. It features a warm taste of oaky vanilla and has a long, smooth finish.

That grape-buying trip to the Panhandle is not an uncommon practice among Texas winemakers. The cool nights and sandy soil of the high plains make it perfect grape growing territory, especially for the new darling of the Texas industry, Tempranillo grapes, another Mediterranean Pierce's Disease-resistant varietal.

Frank Qualia passed the winery on to his son Louis in 1936 and Louis handed it off to his son, Tommy in 1973. It was Tommy who took it in a new, more modern direction. "We're still making the wine my grandfather made," Michael says. "But my dad expanded the line. With more and more vineyards in the state the availability of fruit is a lot better than it was 25-30 years ago. And there are a lot more interesting varietals like Tempranillo and Sangiovese. When we can get fruit like that we're able to do something a little different."

But it's not just a matter of calling up the local vintner and placing your order. Tempranillo grapes are hard to come by and wineries are competing for them. "There are a lot of people growing Tempranillo now but they've only been at it for a couple of years so the yields aren't all that huge. 2010 was a very good year for Texas grapes so there are plenty to go around this year. We're like everyone else, we have to compete for the grapes that are available. I'd say 90 percent of the crop is already spoken for before it's even harvested."

"Our white wines are very drinkable right out the door," Qualia explains. "And our reds are aged anywhere from 18 to 24 months before they're released. And the Don Luis Tawny Port is aged even longer because of it's high alcohol content.

"I'd say somewhere between 75 and 80 percent of our wine is sold through the front door, to people who visit the winery. We have some distribution to local restaurants but we're really selling the vast majority of our wine through the tasting room," says Qualia.

One of the highlights of the tour of the Val Verde Winery are the photographs of the generations of Qualia's who have been involved in its evolution. "We remember and respect where we came from," Michael adds. "We're dedicated to producing wines of excellent variety and quality. Many of our wines have gained the attention of serious connoisseurs, particularly the Don Luis Tawny Port, which has won medals from Texas to New York."

Michael's sister, Maureen, is currently in California, where she earned her master's degree in winemaking at Fresno State. "She's worked in a couple of wineries out there and I expect she'll be back here sooner rather than later. She's getting that experience that's going to make it pretty easy for her to step in here as winemaker when she's ready."

Uncorking a bottle of this wine made from the Lenoir or Blanc Du Bois grapes grown in the generational ground gives you an opportunity to taste a part of Texas history that fittingly comes from a country that happens to be the shape of a boot.

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Established in 1883 by Italian immigrant Frank Qualia, Val Verde Winery, the state's oldest bonded winery, is now the pride and joy of third-generation vintner Thomas Qualia. Using grapes from the adjacent vineyards and other Texas vineyards, the winery produces from six to eight varieties of wine, including its award-winning Don Luis Tawny Port, which is aged in French oak barrels for 5 years. Short, informative guided tours are available at no charge, followed or substituted by free tastings. Wines are available by the bottle (usually $10-$25). Allow 20 minutes for your visit.

Enjoy the historic surroundings, learn about the Sedona area railroad history, grab a delicious bite to eat with friends, or stop by the gift shop. The Verde Canyon Railroad Depot is where the fun starts.

That is exactly what Thomas and Michael Qualia are preparing to make possible at Val Verde Winery in Del Rio. Not only were they pioneers in the Texas wine world (as the oldest winery in Texas and the only winery in Texas from 1949-1976) they are now helping to pave the way for a new industry: fresh-pressed, local olive oil. With a grove of 10 year old trees on the property, they saw the potential of a new product to compliment their wines and began to expand their plantings.

And they are well on their way. With 500 trees in the ground and an award already under their belt, the stage is set for an excellent first year. The olives will be hand picked (with a harvest party following for volunteers) and pressed immediately after, creating the freshest product available. It will be a worth a trip to the winery; these bottles are bound to sell quickly!

The 4,511-square-foot home on 0.33 acre at 12901 River Oaks Drive has four bedrooms, three baths, one half-bath, three living rooms, two dining areas, two fireplaces, a 500-bottle wine cellar and an attached two-car garage.

The rest of the country has begun to take notice. Out-of-state visitors are descending on the area, and now out-of-state wineries are setting up vineyards and tasting rooms, like Foyt Family Wines from Sonoma and Southold Farm & Cellar from New York.

This year Val Verde celebrates its 135th year of continuous winemaking. The family-owned business, the oldest bonded winery in Texas, was awarded the Land Heritage Award from the Department of Agriculture for single-family ownership of the vineyards for more than 100 years.

Today the winery is operated by third-generation vintner Thomas Qualia and his son, Michael. Many of their wines have gained the attention of connoisseurs, particularly his Don Luis Tawny Port, which has won medals from Texas to New York.

While Qualia was creating a culture of winemaking in the Valley, in the northern part of the state Thomas Volney Munson, often referred to simply as T.V. Munson, a horticulturist and breeder of grapes, was exploring the viticulture potential of grape breeding. Born in 1843, Munson made extensive use of native American grape species, and devoted a great deal of his life to collecting and documenting them. He released hundreds of named cultivars, but his work identifying American native grapes (especially those from Texas) is of great significance today for their use in rootstock. Though breeding for wine quality seems to have occupied a great proportion of his effort, his work on rootstock development had the greatest impact on viticulture.

Following in the time-honored tradition of German winemakers in the rich agricultural areas around Fredericksburg, new vineyards and wineries soon sprang up. Ed Ahler of Fall Creek Winery established vineyards in the Texas Hill Country soon after McPherson and Reed founded Llano Estacado Winery in the High Plains; Richard Becker of Becker Vineyards put the viognier grape on the Texas map; and the proprietors of Messina Hof pioneered winemaking in East Texas

The shared AVA between the states, Mesilla Valley, is producing cabernet sauvignon, syrah and zinfandel. The wines are usually consumed locally and rarely found outside the region. There are two wineries in this AVA, both located in New Mexico.

Verde Valley Wine Trail in Northern Arizona is a delightful surprise in this desert landscape. Most people would be astounded to find that the Verde Valley is brimming with award-winning wineries and tasting rooms. This lush river valley in red rock country offers the dry climate and access to water that grapes thrive on. The result is beautiful and distinctive wineries concentrated along what is known as the Verde Valley Wine Trail.

While you are visiting Sedona, take a day to follow the Verde Valley Wine Trail. Taking a self-tour to several popular wineries here will surely be a unique and unforgettable experience! This is a great change of pace from all the hiking that you will be doing in the Sedona area. Winemakers here take their winemaking very seriously and hope that visitors will share in wanting to nurture and advance the Verde Valley as a significant and important wine region. Here are 10 extraordinary Verde Valley Wine Trail wineries to visit this summer. Cheers!

The Mutches like the country-like atmosphere of the community, the people and the low crime rate. But Anne did admit that their store gets burglarized several times a year--the booty usually being bottles of Thunderbird wine.

The 25 stylish, superbly comfortable rooms at Hotel Valverde create the impression that you've come to stay at the home of particularly grand relatives with impeccable taste. The age of the building means no two rooms are exactly alike, and range from 20 meters square for the balconied mini rooms, to 55 square meters for the suites. Rooms look out over the Avenida da Liberdade, or the white-walled, red-roofed city homes, and the Valverde Suite has a grand view of the Saint George castle. Antique artworks in ornate frames create a sense of history, but the elegant design feels far from dated, and guests can expect modern conveniences such as speedy in-room WiFi, mini bars, and effective air conditioning. 041b061a72


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