Welcome to Lost Oak Winery's Blog.
When Rylee isn't drinking wine, she enjoys Dr. Pepper. "I used to be obsessed with Dr. Pepper and would only drink it for the longest time until one of my co-workers introduced me to getting healthier. Now, I mainly just drink water and Dr. Pepper once in awhile for a nice treat after a long day." When she isn't at work, Rylee likes to spend her time with her friends. She also works as a waitress, works on art projects, or tries to catch up on sleep.
In her spare time, Rylee has been watching the TV show, Shameless, with her dad when he has time. "My sophomore year of high school, I would binge Grey's Anatomy and maybe in class too, which wasn’t a good idea! Then I moved to Vampire Diaries and would stay up all night watching it on weekends." One of her favorite foods is sweets. "Junk food is by far my favorite food even though it’s not healthy for you at all. I have a weakness for sweets. My favorite healthy food is any kind of fruit."
When it comes to her prior work experience that helps her do her job at Lost Oak Winery, she attributes her other job as waitressing that helped her develop and be confident in her people skills and small talk. She has been working as a waitress for three years and has worked at Lost Oak for 10 months as a barback.
"One day, on a sangria Thursday, we made the sangria ahead of time to be extra prepared. It was sitting in one of the refrigerators in the back. When it was time to get the container full of sangria, she had tried to pick it up and move it to the rolling table so it was easier to move it," Rylee said. "However, when she got it she slipped and busted her bottom and split the sangria all over her. It was so funny after we made sure she was okay."
We are lucky to have Rylee on our team and we appreciate everything she does at the winery! We will also miss her as she goes off to college, but lucky to still have her included in the Lost Oak family.
Recipe: Watermelon Wine
In honor of National Watermelon Day, we are sharing with you a simple cocktail using only five ingredients for a nice watermelon wine!
- 3 cups of cubed watermelon
- 1 bottle of Lost Oak Gewürztraminer wine (750 ml)
- Juice of one lime (1/4 cup)
- Mint sprigs for garnish
- Mix all ingredients except mint into blender
- Garnish with mint and enjoy!
In 1995, I bought the property on which Lost Oak Winery is located. My main decision for buying this property was the excellent soil and drainage profile for growing wine grapes. I then planted our first Estate vineyard in 1998. That was 22 years ago, and I did not know which grape varieties would do best on this tract of land, so I planted 7 different varieties. Shiraz performed the best by far so when I planted our second Estate vineyard, we chose to plant mostly Shiraz and Blanc DuBois. Blanc DuBois also performed very well so we decided to pull up all of the other varieties and re-plant only Blanc DuBois and Shiraz.
The vineyards at Lost Oak normally have bud-break between late March to early April, and “bloom” in late April. Bloom is when the tiny white flowers drop, and the small fruit clusters appear. This is followed by verasion which normally occurs in late June to early July. Veraison is when the red grapes turn from green to red and the white varieties from green to yellow / white.
Right after veraison, we start measuring the sugar levels of the grapes. We continue measuring
until we are confident of the proposed harvest date. Normally we harvest our Blanc DuBois first
– around the last week of July. Our Shiraz is usually harvested around the second week of
August. The sugar levels are determined using a refractometer. It‘s like looking through a small
telescope where one gets a visual reading of the color change on a scale of 0 to 30. We refer to
this as degrees Brix. Although this is the most important factor in determining harvest date,
there are several other very important factors that also must be considered:
- a. Seed color (seeds need to be yellow brown to dark brown
- b. Seed texture (seeds need to be crunchy when you bite down on them)
- c. Shrivel (the grape skins need to be slightly shriveled)
These are all important signs of ripeness which, if adhered to, will give maximum flavor and
aroma when converted to wine. Therefore, if we pick too early or too late we “miss the target”.
We use volunteers to help us harvest our Estate vineyards because it is a manual process
requiring pruning shears, buckets, and teamwork. Normally, we have a substantial list of
customers, wine club members, and neighbors who want to help. We coordinate with them by
emails starting 2 weeks in advance of predicted harvest dates and then give final notice 48
hours before the actual harvest. The grapes tell us when they are ready, which means
harvest is never scheduled for convenience even if it is on a weekday when most people have
to work, or if there is a predicted chance of rain. Each year it is exciting to see the grapes
harvested and the next cycle of wine-making begin.
source photo: Simply Scratch
Melon with Honey-Lime Dressing
- ½ Cantaloupe Melon
- ½ Honeydew Melon
- ½ Personal size Watermelon
- ¼ cup fresh mint leaves - chopped
- 1 Tbsp. Fresh lime juice
- 1 Tbsp. Honey
Use melon ball cutter or just simply cut melon in 2 inch chunks. Pour dressing over melons, stir and refrigerate. This can be made ahead of time. It keeps well for several days.
This “Fruit of the season” dessert/salad pairs beautifully with our Orange Muscat. The secret is getting the melon really ripe. I put them out on the counter and wait until I can smell them. I smell them once a day until they are ready. If one gets ready before the other, put it in the refrigerator and wait. Honeydew generally ripens more slowly than cantaloupe. Water melon is the exception. You can usually count on the center to be ripe. Or, buy slices ready to serve.
Meet Ally, one of our incredible tasting room staff members and is incredibly valued in the Lost Oak family.
When Ally isn't drinking wine, she's drinking Topo Chico after a friend introduced it to her a few years ago. When she isn't at work, she spends her free time with her boyfriend. The two recently visited Pal Duro Canyon and it's now their new goal to visit every state park in Texas! "I'll also be going back to the school in the fall. So my life will mostly consist of being here, at home, or on a trail somewhere!"
In her spare time, she enjoys watching movies and her all time favorite show is Stranger Things--and has watched it through three times! . "I'm more of a movie person, so when I find something good, I'm totally hooked." One of her favorite foods is the waffle fries from Chick-Fil-A paired with spicy ketchup!
When it comes to her prior work experience that helps her do her job at Lost Oak Winery, she attributes to volunteer work for a library and for her church. Before Lost Oak, Ally didn't know much about wine or Lost Oak and has learned everything while being here! Ally has been a keyholder for a little over a year and a half.
"The funniest thing that has happened to Ally was when the hijinks customers got into in their car during the pandemic made me think I was going to die of secondhand embarrassment. Praise the Lord that Zack was there to handle that because I was at a loss for words. We laugh about it now, but I was frozen at the time. Thanks for handling that like a champ, Zack!"
We are lucky to have Ally on our team and we appreciate everything she does at the winery!
Both Mourvèdre and Tempranillo have tones of being smokey in nature. Mourvèdre has lighter notes that are perfect for outdoor foods.
Based on recent CDC guidelines, masks are no longer required to enter the tasting room. Please choose what you are most comfortable with. Masks are no longer required for our staff, however some staff members may still continue to wear them. Enhanced sanitation procedures in the tasting room and public facilities will still be maintained.
Meet Ryan who has been an incredible addition to the Lost Oak family! Ryan has always been hardworking and extremely valuable to the tasting room.
When Ryan isn't drinking wine, he has various brands of beer and seltzers. He enjoys them mainly because they are the best to drink outdoors where he likes to spend a lot of his time. He also has said he's no stranger to straight whisky or a mixed drink with vodka. When he's not at the winery, he is usually resting at home or doing some work around the house, but when he has the chance, he enjoys being at the lake or traveling. The last shows Ryan binge watched were The Last Kingdom, Shameless, and Ozark.
When it comes to previous experience, he didn't have very much experience in the hospitality industry when he first started at Lost Oak, but did have a brief moment in college when he worked at a liquor store and it was one of his favorite jobs ever. "If I can contribute any prior experience that has helped me now it definitely has to be from there." Ryan has been with the Lost Oak team for about three years.
One of the funniest thing to happen while working was having accidentally walked in on drunk customers in the restroom that have forgotten to lock the door. "That's been really unfortunate for the both of us."
We are lucky to have Ryan on our team and we appreciate everything he does at the winery!
Meet Virginia, one of our beloved and amazing tasting room staff! Virginia has been hardworking and highly valuable in our Lost Oak family.
When Virgina isn't drinking wine, she enjoys a glass of red wine each evening to help wind down and relax On occasion, she enjoys a Whisky (Weller ) and water (of course, there is always room for the occasional Margaritas). When she's not at the winery, she volunteers as a Youth Leader in my church of St. Ann's. Virginia and her husband really enjoy RV camping and have been to a few Wine Festivals in New Mexico, Arizona, and Fredericksburg. Virginia has used Netflix as a go-to entertainment, especially during the pandemic and has found herself binge-watching Longmire and the Ozarks, and a Hallmark movie from time to time.
When it comes to previous experience, Virginia has had her educational background help her to be a better Wine Tasting Specialist. She says that she is a quick study when it comes to educating customers about wine and has always enjoyed helping and guiding people to make good choices. Her prior experience with people has helped her to make connections with others and just enjoy the conversation. "Most people come to the winery to enjoy a good glass of wine and a conversation where someone listens to them. The listening helps me learn more about them, so that they may enjoy the experience." Virginia has worked at the Lost Oak winery for almost 11 years and has learned a lot from our sommeliers that have been associated with Lost Oak Winery. "Gene and Judy, as well as Jim, have really been great to learn and work from them. There is more to wine than just drinking it. So much science!!"
One of the funniest things to happen at the winery for Virginia was when one of her former students grown up and of age to drink came up to the bar. She wasn't certain of the age so she carded him and he addressed her as Mrs. McCrocklin. Virginia recognized his name and he was so excited to be able to come behind the bar and give her a hug. "It was exciting for me to see him but a little awkward to serve him."
We are lucky to have Virginia on our team and we appreciate everything she does at the winery!
Every year the Lost Oak Team heads out to the High Plains to check in on our grape growers. This year was more educational than usual because we also had the opportunity to stop in Plains Texas for Newsom Grape Day, a free event held every year by Neal and Janice Newsom of Newsome Vineyards. Growers, winemakers, and anyone interested in Texas wine gather to hear experts address a topic that affects grapes and wine. This year’s topic was Soil! Dirt may not sound all that exciting, but it was truly fascinating how this plant necessity can have a BIG impact on the finished product. Most wine enthusiasts know that soil can add to the terroir characteristic of wine. It is one of the big reasons that a Merlot from Australia does not taste the same as a Merlot from California. But soil is more important to winemaking than just its terroir contributions. It is directly responsible for much of the vine’s ability to grow and sustain itself.
As a grower or potential grower, soil can be your best friend or worst enemy. We spent the day looking at presentations on soil mapping, soil compositions, soil striations, chemical compositions of soil, and topographical maps. We even went outside and looked in a freshly dug soil pit. So, why is dirt so important? Why spend a whole day discussing it and looking at it?
Grapevines are hardy and will grow just about anywhere, but just because grapes will grow just about anywhere does not mean that you will get the best grapes out of just any old piece of land. Topsoil that is too thin means the roots could hit bedrock and become stunted. Soil that does not drain well could mean too much water for the vines. Soil with too much drainage means a grower may have to use more water than expected. Nutrient-deficient soil could mean that the vines struggle to produce fruit. Soil with uneven nutrients may result in a vineyard that does not produce an even crop yield. Soil with certain chemical compounds can result in grapes with higher or lower than expected pH.
Following the topography and soil maps can also help a potential grower map out the design of their vineyard more efficiently. This soil and topographic information can identify how to break up a vineyard into blocks for optimal production and ease of use of the land. Topographical maps can even help identify areas that may be more affected by freezes.
One thing is for sure: grape growing is not for the impulsive! It takes immense amounts of planning, managing, and maintenance.
Thank you to everyone at Newsom Grape Day for having us and cheers to all our growers. Their hard work makes it possible for us to provide you with excellent wine!