For years, Bill Blackmon and Chris Brundrett, owners and winemakers at William Chris Vineyards, both grew grapes and made wine for other wineries before joining forces and establishing their own label in 2008.
Bill is a seasoned Texas winegrower with over 30 years of experience in managing and planting some of the state’s highly-regarded vineyards. Chris quickly became recognized as one of the state’s fastest rising stars as he assumed head winemaking responsibilities for several labels after earning a horticulture degree from Texas A&M.
William Chris Vineyards is rooted in Bill and Chris’s shared philosophy of producing wines with a true connection to the land. Their commitment to producing high-quality, terroir-driven Texas wine has made them a highly-respected winery in the state and given them national recognition as a producer of Texas fine wine.
In this installment of our “Vintner Profile” series, Nelson Gerena sat down with Chris to learn more about his winemaking philosophy and his perspective on the broader Texas wine industry.
What makes William Chris Vineyards special?
At William Chris Vineyards, we focus on low impact, 100 percent Texas-grown wine. Since 2008, we have expanded the estate vineyards and partnered with family-owned farms to source only the highest-quality fruit. We believe the best wines are grown (not made) and should be true to their native terroir. That’s why you’ll hear us say that we are pleased to share a piece of our world. Located on a farmstead in the historic town of Hye, Texas, William Chris Vineyards’ first tasting room began in the estate’s restored 1905 farmhouse and has grown exponentially since. Today, we’re proud to be the leading producer of single-vineyard wines in the state of Texas.
What is the #1 thing you would like consumers to know/understand about the Texas wine industry?
That Texas is growing and producing world-class, terroir-driven wine. Great wine is happening in Texas.
How would you describe your winemaking style in 5 words or less?
Hands-off and terroir-driven.
Across the wide range of wines you produce at William Chris Vineyards, which is your personal favorite?
Asking that question is like asking me to pick a favorite child (I have one, but it changes every day). Mourvèdre is certainly one of our favorites here; it grows incredibly well in Texas and it really showcases our terroir.
If you could open a bottle of your favorite William Chris Vineyards wine and share it with any three people (living or not), who would they be?
Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and Bill Murray.
What’s coming on the horizon at William Chris Vineyards that you’re most excited about?
We’re proud of the work we’re doing to develop our team here at William Chris into a world-class group of industry leaders through wine education and community building.
What are your hopes for the future of William Chris Vineyards?
We want to continue to help bring credibility and attention to the Texas wine region. We hope that more and more people will come to experience the Texas terroir and hospitality for themselves. Another goal we have is to farm more of our own production in the Texas Hill Country AVA, close to our home in Hye, TX.
Skeleton Key V
Skeleton Key V is an excellent introduction to the quality winegrowing taking place at William Chris. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel, and Sangiovese, this non-vintage wine displays loads of black fruit. It has blackberry and black-cherry aromas with a hint of vanilla. The flavors follow — blueberry, plum, and black cherry complemented by spice and tannin, likely from the mix of 30 percent French and 20percent Eastern European new oak. This wine drinks beautifully now and would be a great match for a grilled skirt steak and French fries.
2018 Marsanne One Way
This is a delicious white wine that makes me wonder why I don’t drink single-varietal Marsanne more often. This wine has aromas of ripe tropical fruit and thirst-quenching citrus flavors. Serve this wine with a slight chill and pair with a mild Thai curry.