For my last stop to vineyards and wineries in Texas before leaving for France, I took the good advice of Wes and met Alphonse and Martha Dotson of Certenberg Vineyard in Voca, Texas. And good advice it was indeed.
Martha met me by my car with her big, beautiful smile and after a few minutes of chatting, asked if I might be interested in a traditional Guadalajara beef stew she planned to heat up for lunch. Absolutely and without a doubt.
She welcomed me into their house and Alphonse came to the kitchen. I was struck first by his charm, then his laid back, centered presence. He called me “young lady” and offered me a seat. I took furious notes as they shared the story of how life took them to their present location, grape varieties and the making of their first wine, Dotson-Cervantes “Gotas de Oro”, meaning “Drops of Gold.” (More on this wine later).
While I can’t share their entire story here- you’ll find it in the book- I will say I was most struck by their faith- in God, and in a higher wisdom to guide them. They, like just about all vine growers in Texas, have experienced some rough times. I do believe grape growing in this state is one of the greatest gambles a person can take. But instead of seeing those trials in a negative light, they both spend their energy looking for lessons, ways to grow and benefit from the challenges. And continue to tune into their intuitions and blessings for direction. As we lingered over Martha’s delicious stew: broth cooked from the bone and filled with root vegetables, greens, spices, chunks of tender meat and whole corn on the cob, all topped with fresh cilantro, sliced avocado and squeezed lime, I just enjoyed watching them interact, clearly still in love after 29 years together. They affirmed each other across the table, helping one another complete stories and laughing at the times they’ve had together. In all my experience, I’ve learned this kind of love always leads to good things.
And that brings us to “Gotas de Oro”. They wanted a sweet wine that could expand past just dessert, and decided on a muscat canneli with a little chardonnay blended in. Many people told them that you don’t blend chardonnay into anything; you blend other varieties into chardonnay. But Ed Auler, the winemaker, agreed and their collaboration produced a very well balanced bottle. I tried it at Fall Creek Vineyards the week before and was carried away with its citrus sweetness, finished off with a touch of cream, the malolactic brought by the chardonnay. Its balanced acidity held up to our tiramisu and the finish was long and delightful. It was perfect for dessert, but if given the chance, I could’ve easily enjoyed the whole bottle by itself.
Interested in trying it yourself? It will be featured Mother’s Day through July 4th at all Mandola’s Markets around Austin, and their Trattoria Lisina in Driftwood, Texas. Test the tiramisu pairing, drink it after the meal, or enjoy throughout the experience.
Or head out to Fall Creek Vineyards in Tow, Texas where you can try and buy “Gotas de Oro”, as well as several other wines made from Certenberg Vineyard grapes.