Everyone has told us the first year would be the hardest, let’s sure hope so! While it was a tough year, it was also very rewarding. We have met SO many wonderful people, which has been our biggest blessing. The sign over our door; “enter as strangers, leave as friends” was a gift from one of our new friends. When we hung it, we didn’t realize how well it applied to Spirit of Texas Winery. We have seen so many people make new friendships during their visit. Our goal was to have a place that everyone feels welcomed, it looks like we’re getting there.
If you’ve been inside, hopefully you’ve had time to look at the photos on the TV screens. It started off with just some pictures of us as we got the place ready to open. It has grown to over 400 photos of our guests and how they have become part of our story! We still look at them every day.
Here’s a year recap in 1000 words, or so:
Our first day of business was Thursday, April 6th, 2017. We were so much busier than we had expected. My brother and his wife drove up from Houston to support us. Our first event was our vine planting party. We planted 400 vines near the highway. Our first project to tackle after opening was installing gutters and rainwater harvesting tanks. It took a couple of weeks before we got rain, but when it did it filled two 2,500 gallon tanks in a matter of hours.
For our joint ribbon cutting (Brownwood and Early Chambers), we were appreciative that staff from Brennan Vineyards and Brian & Kim from the Winery at Willow Creek went out of their way to attend. We held our Grand Opening the following day. Moira’s sister Lisa and her daughter came up from Friendswood, TX to help us and we were surprised to have several family members come out to show their support.
The quote ‘Build it and they will come’ might have worked in the Field of Dreams, but not always here. We have had many days that were just us. We made the most of our downtime by spending it planning and or working outside (and maybe even practicing the hook & ring game). During our first 8 months, we had many people come in on slow days and say ‘we really hope you guys make it.’ That phrase always scared us. One thing that our out-of-town guests have told us, they made their decision to come visit us after reading the positive reviews about us on Facebook, Yelp or Trip Advisor. We greatly appreciate you taking the time to write these reviews.
Many of you know that we have bees. We added 3 hives in 2017. They have been a fun diversion. Our winery dogs have become pretty popular too. Lily is our lover and Gunner is our hello and he’s off greeter. Our seasonal attraction is the hummingbirds. They are fascinating to watch.
In September our highway signs were finally installed. One of our challenges this first year was dealing with the road construction. There have been several days that traffic has been re-routed, diverting it completely away from our stretch of the highway. It was the perfect photo opportunity to set up a table & chairs in the middle of the highway while enjoying a glass of wine.
In October we built and bought some Patio Games. We have a fun collection: checkers, tic/tac/toe, giant Jenga, 2 bag toss games, giant connect 4 and washers. The games have been a great way to bring families and friends together. Hearing the laughter, the competitive spirits, and the even the crashing of the Jenga game makes us happy.
Our event schedule started ramping up in the fall, trying a little of everything. The Pixie Plum has been a frequent favorite, as well as Brownwood Arts Muse & Merlot, our Sip & Shops, and many others. We are always trying to have some fun things going on at the winery that are open to everyone. You can easily follow our event schedule either on Facebook or our website. Here are some of the upcoming events: National Wine Day, Pixie Plum Round Door Hanger Sign Painting, Potluck Sunday (really fun), National Leave The Office Early Day, Best Friends Day, Yoga at the Winery, Nacho Ordinary Father’s Day, It’s National Selfie Day & Painting with Friends.
We continue to work hard to get this small winery exposure throughout the state by attending several well-known wine festivals. Our first festival was the Brady Goat Cook-off and Wine Fest. What a great learning experience. Some others were: Midlothian, Georgetown, San Saba, Hamilton, United Estates in Florence, Taylor and Brownwood’s own Corks & Caps!!! We would not be able to have pulled these off without the help of many volunteers.
The community has really embraced us. In 2017 we had several charitable events. In 2018 we decided to make a concentrated effort to give back to the community! Our goal is to support local non-profit organizations. We have accomplished this by having our monthly Bingo for Charity events. Each month a non-profit is selected and receives 100% of the bingo card sales. As of May 20th, 2018, we have raised/donated over $5,000 for the year!
Brian got a tractor (nuff said)!
In March of 2018, we were excited to begin a relationship with Sarimah and Todd at the Harvest Restaurant! The Harvest is located in Comanche and is an excellent restaurant that works with local farmers to provide unique menu with delicious food. We were thrilled that they asked to carry some of our wines. The Harvest is currently the only place that you can purchase Spirit of Texas wines outside of our tasting room!
It seems that word has gotten out that we’re a new place to host get-togethers. . This year we have hosted a number of baby/bridal showers, anniversaries, birthday parties, retirement celebrations, work gatherings and reunions. We were delighted to host 2 events that seated over 60 and utilized local caterers.
We are working hard to meet our customers’ needs. Our new Frozen Machine has been a big hit especially with hot Texas weather. We have enjoyed gradually adding unique gift items that fit our style. In April we added a new wine, Rip Roaring Red. It’s our first wine with Spirit of Texas Winery on the label! Although it’s only been available for a month, we have been delighted with the positive comments.
We are a ‘work in progress.’ Our project list continues to grow faster than we can keep up with! Expanding our parking area was a high priority. There were several occasions that we had to delay opening because we worried that our customers would get stuck. It’s so nice and a huge relief too.
A special thank you goes out to those that have become part of our Founder’s Club. Joining our Founder’s Club includes an $800 investment with an annual $100 renewal. The benefits include your name on our Founder’s plaque, a glass of wine per day, 25% off all wine & merchandise and more. Being on a tight budget, we’re trying to save money for our improvement projects; new entrance, landscaping, cement patio & pavilion, vineyard site prep and back patio area (pergola, fire pit & stonework).