sustainability in Texas Wineries: Red Caboose Winery and Vineyards

This is the first of a series highlighting sustainable practices in Texas wineries and vineyards.

In addition to be centers for locavore culture and community awareness, many Texas wineries are dedicated to being environmentally conscious and practicing sustainability in creative ways.  With wine as both a farming and production venture, these practices have a multi-level impact and deserve a little applause.

We start with Red Caboose Winery and Vineyards because owner Gary McKibben has had an expansive influence on the industry, and he and his son Evan McKibben (winemaker), have taken sustainable practices very seriously in their own winery and vineyards.

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In addition to owning Red Caboose Wineries in Meridian and Clifton, Gary is an architect for a Dallas firm specializing in sustainable design.  The firm designed both Red Caboose buildings, as well as the buildings for Flat Creek Estate, Pedernales Cellars, Brennan Vineyards, Retreat Hill Winery and Vineyard, Texas Legato Winery, and La Bodega in Terminal D at DFW Airport.

special sustainable corks at Red Caboose 2

In their winery and vineyard at Meridian, they are using a variety of green technologies.  In the building, they source all their energy from solar panels (and actually generate enough energy to give back to the grid) and use geothermal cooling  for all their refrigeration and chilling needs.  They use sustainable building materials and recycle everything possible from both locations.  And for their corks, they buy composite with caps. The ends are solid and the middle cylinders are pieced together recycled corks.  They work just as well and make good use of what would be otherwise wasted materials.

Evan’s winemaking reflects a similar sentiment and dedication to the natural process: no ionization, no filtration, no computerized gadgets.  The wine is racked and moved through hoses and gravity.  This is in part to cut down on electricity use, and in part a commitment to original wine making practices. They are dedicated to quality over quantity and let the wine develop naturally from its vineyard beginnings, aging it in barrel and bottle as long as it needs.

In their vineyards, they source irrigation water from a rainwater catchment system and do not use pesticides.  They prune clusters to allow the remaining grapes to develop their own natural intensity and quality, and all fruit is hand-havested.  As Evan says, “We grow wine.” The same principles apply to any fruit they buy from outside sources.

How does all of this show in the bottle?  Splendidly.  Their 2008 Tempranillo/ Cabernet Sauvignon blend was one of the 22 Jefferson Cup winners (out of 499 entries) in 2011.  Their Red Ranger Tempranillo blend, 2010 Syrah/Malbec, non-vintage Syrah/Cabernet Sauvignon, and Blanc du Bois have also picked up awards as well.  You can find these, and their other stellar wines at these restaurants and retail outlets.

For more information on Red Caboose Winery and Vineyards sustainable design, visit their webpage or visit them in person at their Meridian and Clifton locations.

– Margaret Shugart

Red Caboose sign

 

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faces of the next generation

Some faces of the new generation of Texas Wine:

Nolan Newsom in his new Mouvedre vineyard, 2 acres and 1/4 mile long. Poised to take on the tradition of beautiful High Plains fruit. Today he will help host and educate at Newsom Grape Day in Plains, Texas, one of the biggest gatherings of grape growers in the state.

J.P. St. Charles, barista at Times Ten Cellars, understudy at Inwood Estates Winery, determined future winemaker. Just planted his first vines in east Texas. His response to a question about the next generation of Texas wine?- “Oh look out, it’s coming.”

Grayson Davies of Arché. First graduate of Texas Tech University's four year viticulture and enology program and new winemaker with his family's vineyard and winery.

Evan McKibben and his father Gary McKibben (and Buddy the dog) at Red Caboose Winery and Vineyard. Evan won one of the precious few awards at the Jefferson Cup last year, the only winery in Texas to do so.

Rachel Cook with her mentor, winemaker and nuclear physicist, Les Constable at Brushy Creek Vineyards where she is now winemaker and vineyard manager. Two great minds pushing the envelope on Texas wine.

On right: John Rivenburgh (director of wine and vine ninja) with his father-in-law, Robert Young at Bending Branch Winery. Two great experimenters dedicated to growing organic grapes and building a sustainable family business based on clean, quality, serious Texas wines.

Dave Reilly, winemaker at Duchman Family Winery, smiling as usual. Ask him about his craft though, and it's no joke. He is set to blow the doors off Texas wine.

Miles Elsey, cellar hand and assistant winemaker at Duchman Family Winery, passionate student of the industry.

Craig Pinkley relaxing in one of the many beautiful spots at his Pilot Knob Vineyards and Winery. Craig believes in running a family friendly winery, dedicated to bringing people together to enjoy the place and each other.