Beth Perrine Leopold and Rick Leopold of Perrine Winery in College Station, Texas always wondered what it would be like to own a vineyard and make their own wine. Both having an agriculture background, Beth said they felt like “farmers without a farm.” The couple focused on opening a micro winery instead of planting a vineyard, and have seen their lofty dreams through, making award winning wines from crushed grapes and juice from out of state growers such as California and Washington, as well as 8 other countries.
Perrine Winery recently won Silver for their Nebbiolo at the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition in Rochester, New York, and their wines have won many Gold and Silver awards this year. Their Huguenot series is placing high as well, winning Double Gold/Best in Class at the International Woman’s Wine Competition in Sonoma, California for the Huguenot Blackberry Dessert, a ruby red port style wine. Beth and Rick Leopold are proof that owning a successful winery in Texas is possible if you are dedicated to your goal.
What was the turning point for you and Beth when you decided to stop dreaming about owning a winery, and just do it? Rick: “We had seen the concept of a winery without a vineyard several years ago and thought that would be something we would like to do when we retired. However, with the wine industry growth in Texas, we thought we might miss out if we waited until then. What if someone else started a micro-winery in College Station? We didn’t want to be the 2nd one, so we got started researching and planning in the summer of 2010.”
Do you still consider yourself a Texas wine even though you use out of state fruit? “All of our wines are made in here in College Station, so we are a Go Texan company, even if the grapes were not grown in Texas. We are always careful not to suggest or imply that any of our wines have a Texas appellation. As a matter of fact, we go to the extreme on our varietal wines by placing the appellation “American” on those labels. If we are successful and expand, one day we hope to be able to buy locally grown grapes and make some wine from those Texas grapes. We have the utmost respect for the hard working folks who grow grapes in Texas and make really great wine out of them.”
You’re winery seems to be a place for relaxation and small gatherings among friends. Was this always the vision for your tasting room? “Yes. Our goal is to attract a more mature wine-loving crowd that prefers quiet conversation rather than the loud bar-type environment. Although, it does get a bit loud when we have a couple parties going on or when we have live music.”
You offer custom bottling and labeling for anyone, not just wine club members. What has been the most memorable customer bottling experience? “As a micro-winery, we offer custom wine making. We’ve had a number of people start and bottle their own wine with us just to have the experience, but mostly we have couples making wine for their weddings. The bottling usually takes about 30 minutes or so, and the bottlers take pictures and sample the wine as they go. One happy couple brought both their families in to share in the experience. They drank the wine, had cake, took a lot of pictures, and made an event of it. And about 2 hours later, they finished, and were very happy, even if they ended up with several less bottles than the batch made. That’s the type of fun we hope our customers have. We hope their marriage is a successful as that bottling party!”
How full is the Summer event season at Perrine Winery? “We just started our World Tour Passport program, which rewards folks for sampling every one of our wines. We’ll continue to have our De-Stress Wednesdays with wine and a massage and we plan to have live music about twice a month. For the summer, we have frozen wine drinks and intend to have sparkling wine on tap year-round.”
Beth and Rick invite everyone to visit their winery in College Station, and to remember them for special events, and custom bottling. The World Tour Passport is an opportunity to sample all 56 wines of Perrine Winery at your leisure. Visit their website for more information and events.