Texan wine lovers and oenophiles are no doubt familiar with the popular Lone Star State winery, Messina Hof, which, in January, broke ground at its largest location to date in Richmond.
Houstonians who want to uncork a fun, winery getaway experience won’t need to wait for Messina Hof’s sprawling estate, or a road trip to Fredericksburg, however. West Sandy Creek Winery, located between Montgomery and Huntsville (little more than an hour from Houston), has reopened its doors after closing in accordance with the state-wide stay at home order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, according to a statement.
The 60-acre ranch nestled at the edge of the Sam Houston National Forest in Richards, Texas, offers guests a chance to enjoy a bottle of wine outside in one of the winery’s gazebos or on the patio and views of the vineyards and animals — horses, cows, goats, chickens, dogs, zebra, and donkeys — that call the ranch home.
Other popular draws include cabin rentals (especially handy for those who imbibe copious amounts of wine) and the ranch’s two zebronkeys, an impossibly cute cross between a zebra and donkey.
West Sandy Creek Winery boasts 12 acres of Blanc du Bois grapes, which were developed by a Texan in a University of Florida lab in 1968. It grows three varieties of grapes and produces three distinctly different wines:
- Four blanc (sweet, dry, oaked, and dessert)
- Three Lenoir (sweet/blush, dry, and port)
- Two blends – Bounty Land Crossings (a Tempranillo/Lenoir blend, and a rose, a Blanc du Bois/Lenoir blend)
The winery’s tasting room is not currently open — in accordance with safety guidelines. To further ensure safety, the winery is enacting the following rules, which include:
- No more than six guests per party.
- Customers should not re-arrange tables or chairs from their locations.
- Restrooms are open in the tasting room for guests to use one at a time and guests are asked not to linger in the tasting room, which is currently closed.
- Tastings will be served using a single plastic cup. Guests are asked to observe the marked spaces on the patio and line up accordingly to maintain social distancing.
- The winery will not be selling or serving food, but guests are welcome to bring their own to enjoy with their wine.
- All reservations last a maximum of 2.5 hours. If guests plan to be at the winery for a shorter time, please inform the staff, so they can schedule other guests accordingly. The time limits will be enforced to clean and disinfect for the next reservation.
- Wine will be served by the bottle with a wine opener for guests to use. Guests can bring their own wine opener if they prefer.
“Overall, we’re following the established guidelines, but the situation is fluid and we will continue to adjust our operations as required,” said Sandy McGinley, the winery’s general manager, in a statement. “In the meantime, we invite our loyal customers to return and new guests to experience a taste of what West Sandy Creek Winery has to offer.”
West Sandy Creek Winery; 1 Winery Rd., 1773 FM 1791, Richards, Texas; 936-436-9050. Open Thursdays from 1 pm to 6 pm; Fridays and Saturdays from 1 pm to 7 pm; and Sundays 1 pm to 6 pm.