- Written by Lillian Bargh
Thank you and Happy Holidays!
Jennifer and I, and the whole Grape Creek team, want to wish you a happy, healthy and joyful holiday season. Seems like Christmas and the New Year always seem to bring a few moments of reflection.
We are very grateful to be part of the burgeoning Texas Wine Industry and to have experienced such an amazing 12 years since purchasing Grape Creek. From our staff and club members, to friends in the industry, it is a happy journey.
We have seen a lot of growth. Producing over 50,000 cases of wine this year compared to 2500 cases when we purchased the winery, has created a lot of change. Expanded tasting rooms and patios, advanced and larger wine production facilities, added locations, a restaurant and new vineyards have all been part of the evolution. We wouldn’t have experienced any of these improvements without our loyal club members. Thank you!
We made a choice long ago to be a wine club winery; a winery that focuses our efforts on producing great wines and providing enjoyable and unique experiences to our club members. Of course, we also love welcoming new guests who in turn become future club members.
The industry has grown rapidly over the last ten years and so have we. So much so, that we made a very conscious decision to be true to what we are, a winery and vineyard. To create an environment to explore and enjoy wine and to veer away from being a party place or bar. To be a place where wine is a pleasure, not a party.
The result? We have seen even more people join our club, and more stay in the club. We take that as an affirmation that we are on the right track. We also believe when you own a business, you want to make sure you feel good about what you offer and that you would choose to be a customer of your own business. And, we do and we would. Of course, we get to have fun continuing to evolve and improve moving forward (like the new Sparkling Wine Tasting Room coming in 2019), and we appreciate your ideas we have received along the way.
Thank you for being a club member, thanks for referring your friends to Grape Creek and we look forward to the many years to come.
Merry Christmas and Blessings to you and your families!
Brian and Jennifer Heath
- Written by Brian Heath
The "New" Trattoria - June 19, 2017
Recently, we changed the style of food service we offer at Grape Creek through our partnership with Stout's kitchens. The new Trattoria is enclosed, remodeled, and upgraded. While our lunch menu still offers the Stout's pizzas many members and guests love, we now offer an expanded menu that includes new appetizers, salads and entree options like tenderloin filet, salmon and chicken. Additionally, our new "dine by the vines" dinner experience is available on Friday and Saturday evenings, plus a wonderful Sunday brunch menu served all day.
Of course, Grape Creek offers wine options for your meal including a prior-vintage library wine list (available during dinner for club members) and sparkling wine and mimosas on Sundays. Also, enjoy specialty coffees after your meal.
The restaurant includes both indoor and outdoor seating (on the adjacent patios) so guests can enjoy whichever option they like best.
When we started the Trattoria two years ago, many people welcomed the food options to enjoy with their wine, and some people were disappointed we didn't offer a sit-down, table service restaurant. We also imagined that might in fact be the natural evolution of our future dining experience.
So, we are excited about the launch of the "new" Trattoria with chef-inspired delights and weekend evening dining.
Like anything, not all changes are welcomed by all people. One change that is negative for some is not being able to get a pizza and take it to the wine club patio to enjoy. While we completely understand that sentiment and concern, we also had issues with all seating areas doubling as dining areas, as not all guests enjoyed the mixed experience. So, we created dining areas and non-dining areas on the patios, although we still offer a wonderful cheese and charcuterie tray that can be enjoyed with wine on any of the non-dining patios. As mentioned previously, there are both designated indoor and outdoor dining areas so members can still enjoy a pizza on the patio.
On busy days we may have a wait for seating like any other restaurant. However, when we were busy before we often had a 20-30 minute wait in line to order plus the wait for food preparation (at times 30-45 minutes). Part of our goal was to change the wait experience so now the wait can be enjoyed by doing a tasting or having a glass of wine while waiting for a text letting you know your table is ready. Of course, there is still food prep time once ordered.
While we appreciate the changes might create some concern and disappointment for some guests we believe the good far outweighs the bad and most people are thoroughly enjoying the new, upgraded offerings. We also appreciate direct feedback (through our website or via email) regarding improvements; whether the feedback is about an issue with our growing pains from new ventures or ideas that may enhance the overall member and customer experience.
We personally love the new Trattoria and the great culinary options, and we hope you enjoy it too!
Grape Creek Vineyards
- Written by Brian Heath
Saturdays are Different - October 12, 2016
Grape Creek recently made some changes to our approach on Saturdays and busy Holiday Weekends (learn more about Saturdays). Our owner, Brian Heath, provides some background in this article.
We love Grape Creek and the wine business! Of course, it’s hard work by so many of our great staff, but it is also very rewarding to enjoy the connection so many people have with wine and with Grape Creek.
So why did we change how we handle Saturdays? Two reasons:
First, we have enjoyed increasing visitation, which is a good thing, and we are happy lots of people enjoy what we offer. When we purchased Grape Creek ten years ago, we had one small tasting room and six feet of tasting bar. We now have three tasting rooms (not counting Main Street or Georgetown) plus two outdoor tasting areas and a wine by the glass bar. We also offer expansive patios and seating areas plus the trattoria opened last year. However, on busy days it can be overwhelming, even with expanded facilities. As a result, some of our wine club members began to avoid Saturdays.
Second, although not popular to say, we are not the right place for all customers. As a simple metaphor, we are like a country club for wine lovers. We have a large and loyal wine club that purchase 9 out of every 10 bottles of wine we produce. We are a wine club winery. And, by choice, we only offer our wines directly to customers (club, on-site and on-line) and to a handful of local restaurants. So we are not designed, nor do we want to try, to meet the gamut of all the possible visitor expected experiences. We believe in choosing what we want to be and delivering on that goal to the best of our ability.
What we strive to provide are a set of unique and enjoyable tasting experiences so guests can choose the best way for them to discover our wines. They can then decide if Grape Creek wine should be in their cellar and possibly join our club. Some potential customers are hoping we are a wine bar or a state park (like the ones that pounded in horseshoe stakes and set up a family picnic behind the tasting room). We are neither. We discourage loud party groups, and while we have kids too, a winery is an adult experience by definition. Some people are also put-off that we offer special benefits (exclusive seating areas, member wines, etc.) to our club members. There is a deeper and longer-term connection with our club members and they are the reason we can afford to invest in the facilities and experiences that even our new guests can enjoy. Plus, anyone is welcome to join.
So what has changed? Here is the detail on our Saturdays at Grape Creek to see specific information.
A couple of years ago we stopped taking buses on Saturday and, shortly thereafter, limos unless one of our preferred partners and with a reserved slot. While professional transportation can be a good alternative we found the limo groups were generally there to party and drink too much, which of course diminished the experience for other guests. In fact, we also have found larger groups, regardless of transportation, tend to have that effect.
So, for new guests (not current club members or their guests) we limit groups to six and guests must purchase one of our tasting options to enter facility. As previously mentioned, we are a winery not a bar. Tastings are how people can get to know our wines. Because all guests are doing a tasting we don’t allow any children under 21 in their party nor pets, as both require supervision.
The feedback we have had from our members and most guests has been very positive. Obviously, there are some that might not agree with the changes. While we acknowledge their right to be disappointed we also acknowledge our opportunity to make choices about how best to serve our members, guests and staff.
We hope to welcome you soon!