Welcome to Lost Oak Winery's Blog.
Q: Tell us about yourself and how you got started with truffle making.
A: I started making truffles about 25 years ago and what I did was I came across a recipe I had for years and never did anything with it. I’ve never made a truffle in my life. I just decided to make some one time to see what it was like because I had never even eaten one before. I made some and took them over to a friend of mine who had been eating truffles all of her life. I asked her to taste them and see if they are any good because I wanted to give them as Christmas gifts. She ate it and said it was one of the best truffles she had ever had.
I started making them around Christmas time, giving them to friends and family. I did that off and on for all those years. I’m retired from law enforcement since three years ago and I decided if I could make a part time gig out of it. I got with a friend of mine who is a pastry chef and took some out to him. He said your truffles are good enough to sell but if you want to sell a lot of them you need to bring them up to standards, maybe molded chocolates instead, and make them colored. I started practicing and practiced for about three weeks and then went to a shop to see if they would be interested in carrying them and they said yes.
I started carrying with this shop and people started calling and wanting. It’s a small business that I do all in my home. I have been mainly selling wholesale but have a few indiviuals who call and buy so I deliver that way. When I got started with Lost Oak Winery, a friend of mine worked there and said they were looking for new chocolate.
Q: What do you love most about chocolates and your business so far?
A: I really enjoy it and have cooked off and on for most of my life. I’ve never done much with chocolate but was always interested in desserts. The biggest thing is it’s enjoyable and I enjoy doing it. I’m happy to see people enjoy something that I’ve made.
Q: In your opinion, what is the connection between chocolate and wine?
A: Everyone always seems to want to pair chocolates with something and when I was approached about the wine end of it, I knew that I liked a little bit of chocolate with wine. They started talking about different flavors and wanted to pair with their different products. I was sent a bottle of Merlot and enjoyed the flavor of the two combined. (Merlot and Amaretto & Grande Marnier).
Q: What’s your favorite chocolate that you make?
A: I like the Amaretto & Grande Marnier I think the best.
Meet Nancy, one of our amazing event center staff! Nancy is often responsible for the setup in our event center making her a valuable member of our event team.
When Nancy isn't drinking wine, she is drinking Dunkin' caramel iced coffee with cream and sugar which she says is her weakness. She is trying to be better about drinking more water, however. When she's not at the winery, she is working her full time job with Community Healthcare of Texas/Providence Hospice or spending time with her kids, furry kids, and her one year grandbaby, Paxton. She likes to binge watch Dexter or The Punisher on Netflix. Her favorite food is Krispy Kreme donuts but she could also eat Mexican food every day.
When it comes to her prior work experience that helps her do her job at Lost Oak Winery, she has been in customer service since she was 15 years old. She loves taking care of people and doing what she can to make them happy. She has been working at Lost Oak Winery for 7 years. She's worked in almost every role here but is happiest at the event center where she has been working for about a year or so. Being a part of someone's dream wedding is something special to her.
The funniest thing that has happened to Nancy happened years ago when she was in charge of making sangria for Sangria Thursday. She would make it in a very large tub. She accidentally dropped a huge spoon in it and it spattered all on the ceiling, walls, and floor and drenched her clothes and shoes. She literally had sangria drippoing off of her hair and eyelashes. It was like an explosion. She was very careful to hold on to the spoon from then on!
We are lucky to have Nancy on our team and we appreciate everything she does at the winery!
Meet Cayla, our employee spotlight for December! Cayla is our event center keyholder and she constantly goes above and beyond to make sure events at the event center turn out perfect. If you are planning an event at Lost Oak, chances are you will get to work with Cayla and you couldn't be in better hands.
When Cayla isn't drinking wine, she loves to drink Dr. Pepper. She hangs out at home with her family when she is not here at Lost Oak Winery. Most of her binge watching on Netflix is controlled by her two little boys so she ends up watching a lot of Paw Patrol and Bubble Guppies. It's a good thing that she works at a winery because Cayla says that she lives off of chocolate, coffee, and wine. We can most definitely provide at least one of those things!
Cayla has 8 years of experience in customer service which she says has really helped her when she's giving hopeful clients a tour of our event center. Being able to connect with the client and have them fall in love with the event center like she has is always a bonus for her. She has been working as event center keyholder for a little over a year and she loves it. One of the funniest things that has happened to Cayla on the job was when a coworker spilled coffee on himself and she laughed at him. Right after that, she spilled an entire gallon of coffee all over, her white shoes, and the floor. While it wasn't funny at the time, she laughs about it when she thinks about it now and is just thankful that the event was already over when it happened.
We are so lucky to have Cayla as a part of our team and we know that you will love her as much as we do!
Our Employee Spotlight of the month is Melissa Davis, one of our keyholders! Melissa is always a joy to work with and she is great at what she does! We are lucky to have her. Read more about Melissa below!
What do you binge watch on Netflix?
What do you drink when you aren't drinking wine?
Freshly juiced ginger, appole, beet, carrot & kale.
How many years have you been at Lost Oak Winery?
Where are you when you aren't at the winery?
At home thanks to COVID19.
What is your favorite food?
Yes!!!! But I especially like veggies.
What previous job experience do you have that helps with your current position?
I was a barista. Caffeine (like wine) is great for the soul.
What is the funniest thing that has happened in your time at Lost Oak Winery?
I decided to go run the trail one day and it had just recently rained. When I got to a portion of the trail known for flooding, I decided to keep going despite the water. At first, all seemed okay, but then I started to think about all the snakes that could be in the water that I couldn't see. I used some sweet ballet moves to get through and then hit another area of even deeper flooding. Needless to say, I did not finish the trail that day.
Jim Evans is a pioneer in the Texas wine industry with 40 years of wine making experience. After graduating from Texas A&M in 1984, he joined University of Texas’ Experimental Viticulture and Enology program. In 1996, he began making wine for Lone Oak Vineyards. Lone Oak Vineyards would eventually become Lost Oak Winery and Jim has continued making wine here ever since. Wines made by Jim and his team have won countless awards over the years, including five Double Gold medals. He has personally won several prestigious awards. TWGGA awarded him the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011 and the Louis F. Qualia award for Outstanding Contributions to the Texas Wine Industry in 2017. He served as President of TWGGA in 2014.
A lover of all things wine, Jim also enjoys iced tea, although he says he usually wishes it were wine instead. When he isn't at the winery, he's at home in Odessa, thinking about the winery. He makes the trek to Lost Oak Winery many times throughout the year to make wine, and in his absence, our Assistant Winemaker, Angela, holds down the fort. When at home, Jim binge watches Goliath, Breaking Bad, Bosch, and Mondovino. When asked what his favorite food was, he replied, "Wine, with seafood." Jim is known around here as a guy with a great sense of humor who is welcoming and kind to everyone and always full of stories about making wine and drinking it.
Jim claims that wine is made in the vineyard and a winemaker should just guide the process while not interfering too much. We should let the wine be an expression of the grape. His knowledge, passion, and kindness make him a valuable asset at Lost Oak Winery, as well as a great friend.
Zack Shelley, our employee spotlight of the month, is one of our knowledgeable tour guides and tasting room specialists. He is always the first to have fun facts about wine, the winery, science and more. If you ever want to know the history of Lost Oak Winery or the scientific facts about winemaking, Zack is your guy. Read more about Zack and make sure to join him and winemaker, Jim Evans, for a virtual tasting of our new Tempranillo, Shiraz Reserve, and our Cabernet Reserve on September 25th, 2020 at 6 PM!
What are you drinking when you aren't drinking wine?
Bushmill's Black Bush Irish Whiskey, aged 10-12 years in Sherry casks or Maker's Mark Bourbon.
When you aren't at the winery, where are you?
In Colorado, skiing, camping, and visiting friends. Florida at the beach and visiting family. Or, high school football games and dance competitions for my daughter.
What have you binge watched on Netflix?
Harry Potter, Avengers, Indiana Jones. Still waiting for that next 'Avatar' movie to come out! Sorry, I haven't been a huge Netflix only series fan.
What is your favorite food?
BACON! Anything with bacon. Okay, chicken marsala (pounded thinly of course) with baby bello mushrooms and four-cheese ravioli or gnocchi and fresh asparagus, al dente. Great second (or even first) is a nice thick New York Strip Steak cooked Pittsburgh style. Rare, of course, with a nice big baked potato. And no, none of that 'sweet potato' crap!
What prior experience helps you in the job you do at Lost Oak Winery?
Running a non-profit environmental company in Colorado for 10 years. I have a water chemistry background and had my own small water quality lab, working with dozens of municipalities and townships in the Big Thompson River watershed, working with public and numerous state and federal agenies in regard to water quality, water pollution, forest fires, and flooding impacts.
How long have you been working in your area of expertise?
So, I kind of do a little bit of everything here. Tasting room specialist, tour guide, work in production, work in vineyard, work at the event center when needed, and kind of annoy those who have to work directly with me!
Tell me about one of the funniest things that has happened to you in this job.
I won't go into the specifics, but I once had a customer ask me if I'd like to see her belly dance. My coworkers will never let me live it down.
Red Wine Berry Spritzer Recipe
When it's 95+ degrees here in Texas, heavy drinks and food just don't sound as appealing. If you like drinks like White Claw, this is the cocktail for you! This Red Wine Berry Spritzler is light, low calorie, and cold, making it the perfect summertime drink to get you through these hot summers. They are extremely simple to make as well. Follow along with our private event coordinator, Brooke, as she makes this delicious wine cocktail. You will need one bottle of sweet red wine (we recommend Lost Oak Dolce Rouge), La Croix berry sparkling water, and frozen blueberries or blackberries (or both if you want).
So there you have it! Let us know if you try this recipe in the comments!
Red Wine Berry Spritzer Recipe
Mojitos are a wonderful, light drink option during the summer, especially here in Texas where it gets hot enough for you to be able to cook an egg on the sidewalk. A traditional mojito uses rum, lime, mint, and club soda. This recipe, originally created by the spruce Eats, is a variation using white wine. We recommend using Lost Oak Sauvignon Blanc or Blanc du Bois (dry or sweet works depending on your taste). Once you have chosen your wine, you will need sparkling Italian lemonade, limes, and mint. If you only have a dry wine but would like your cocktail to be a littler sweeter, you can also add some simple syrup.
To start, make sure your wine and sparkling lemonade are both chilled. Combine one 750 mL bottle of wine with 2 cups of Italian Sparkling lemonade. You will then add the juice from two limes. Use fresh lime juice versus bottled lime juice for the best results. Mix in 2-3 tspns of simple syrup if you want a sweeter cocktail. Add the mint right before serving to avoid the leaves turning brown. The original recipe recommends mincing the mint. We don't want tiny bits of mint floating around in our glass, however, so we recommend "spanking" your mint leaves. If you have a muddler, you are free to use that. If not, simply hold the leaves in your hand and smack them between both hands. Rub the mint leaves between your hands very briefly to release those oils and flavors. Then add them to your pitcher and stir to combine.
Once you're mojitos are ready, serve over ice, garnish with a lime and/or sprig of mint, and enjoy! Cheers!
White Wine Mojito Recipe
Our Employee Spotlight for May 2020 is Susan Brayfield! Susan is our office manager at Lost Oak Winery. She handles everything from paying bills to purchasing anything we need at the winery to keeping up with our Wine Club. The winery is able to run as smoothly as it does in large part due to Susan's contributions. Not only is she a valuable part of the Lost Oak Team, she is also a joy to be around and is constantly a positive force around the winery. She cares about everyone and is always the first person to suggest throwing other employees birthday parties to make them feel special.
Susan loves coffee with creamer, no matter the flavor. Her favorite food is fajitas with all the fixings and at home she enjoys sitting on her patio reading a good book or watching 30 Rock. Before she started at Lost Oak Winery, Susan was a teacher at middle school. She says that people don't change much after 6th grade and that has been beneficial knowledge in her job. June 3rd will mark her one year "wineaversary" here at Lost Oak, but before she was even a teacher, Susan was a marketing analyst for a pharmaceutical company. This gave her an advantageous understanding of how to use and think about data.
Susan says that she laughs and smiles often when talking with our guests and vendors. She enjoys connecting with other people and helping people choose a wine that they'll like and that will make wine feel accessible. She told someone recently that she thought Texas Trio would go great with a Grump's burger and fries. Sometimes guests are surprised at pairing humble food selections with wine, although it often ends up being delicious. Those types of conversations make her smile on the job.
This savory dinner recipe is provided by D'Caterers. We will be cooking this dish for our virtual cooking class on April 13, 2020. We hope you enjoy!
Chicken & Portobello Scallopine in Madeira Sauce
- 12 oz chicken breast
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup flour
- 4 tbsps butter
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- 1 medium cap portobello mushroom (fins removed; washed; sliced)
- 1 tsp chopped garlic
- 1/2 cup Madeira
- 2 tsp beef base
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tbsp parsley
- 2 oz Heavy Cream
- 2 cup fettuccini (cooked)
- 1 cup asparagus
- 1/4 cup red & yellow cherry tomatoes (quartered)
- 1 tsp canola oil
- 1 tbsp parsley
- Slice the chicken in medallions, cover with plastic film and gently pound out; season with pepper. Quarter the tomatoes; reserve. Cook and shock the fettuccini; reserve. Trim asparagus to 2" pieces, blanch and shock. Remove the fins from the mushroom, wash and slice to 1/8". Fine chop the parsley, wrap in a non-terry towel and rinse under cold water (squeezing regularly) until the water runs clear, squeeze our remaining water and shake into a bowl; resere. Combine water and beef base.
- In a saute pan, melt butter and 1 tbsp canola oil. Dredge the chick in flour (shake off excess) and place in pan. When flour starts to brown, flip the chicken. Add garlic and mushroom and saute. Add Madeira and reduce by half. Add beef brother and reduce by half. Add cream; bring to boil. Add pasta and parsley and toss. Remove from heat.
- In a separate pan, heat 1 tsp canola oil on high heat. Saute tomatoes until they start to carmelize. Add asparagus and saute to heat.
- Divide pasta onto the center of two plates. Divide the chicken around the pasta; cover with remaining pan sauce. Top with asparagus and tomatoes. Enjoy!