West Texas’ newest winery to open first tasting room

Los Nopales Vineyards was established in 2017, and now the winery is about to open its first tasting room in Sterling City. Owner Kalyn Hodges, 29, said the business was never all about wine to begin with.

“I am the child of a breeder, I am part of a sixth generation sheep farm here in Sterling City,” she said. “When I was in college, my grandfather started a meat business, which was a by-product of what we were already doing. We started selling all of these different cuts of lamb to different chefs and I started attending these food and wine pairing events.

This opportunity introduced her to the world of wine and how wine relates to where grapes are grown. The name Los Nopales comes from the land on which the vineyard is located, considered “the land of the prickly pear”. After earning a degree in agricultural communications and journalism from Texas A&M, she began a harvest internship with Orin Swift in Napa, California.

“It was a moment of ignorance, of bliss because I had no idea the size of a brand or a name at the time,” she said. “There weren’t that many jobs in the Texas wine scene back then. ”

She returned home after the internship and took advantage of it by taking some vines to plant with her. She planted a vineyard a year later in Broome. That first year, she grew 2 acres of cabernet sauvignon and tempranillo. She said there are several factors that really work in favor of West Texas grape growers, including the elevation for more diurnal oscillations, as well as the arid environment that keeps mold and rot away.

“No one really thinks of West Texas as a ‘grape country’,” she said. “It’s the # 1 producer in the state between the High Plains and West Texas.”

Los Nopales Vineyards tasting room seen on Friday January 9, 2022 at 620 4th St. in Sterling City. Jacy Lewis / Reporter-TelegramJacy Lewis / Reporter-Telegram

She said she hopes to change the narrative, so people think West Texas can be a wine country.

“People think wine is pretentious or too sophisticated,” she said. “But again, I think wine is a very beautiful expression of what my house is.”

Sterling City is a town of about 800 people located between Midland and San Angelo. The tasting room was previously The Old City Cafe, which served pancakes the size of a manhole. After peeling what appeared to be ’40 years of linoleum’ from the floor, Hodges restored the tasting room to its original state with beautiful brick walls and exposed 1940s rafters. She added a bar top in concrete poured in his father’s shop.

She decided to open the tasting room to showcase her wines while providing a gathering place for the local community. Hodges said she wanted the tasting room to represent West Texas and the region, because that’s what her wine reflects. She was able to use the back half of the cafe for production space until it was too big for the room during this year’s production.

During the frost of last February, she lost a lot of her vines. Of the original 2,000 that she planted, she now has only 700 of her personal vines. However, Hodges went through the ups and downs and contacted other West Texas grape growers as well.

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“I started to subcontract in different vineyards,” she said. “For this vintage, I went from one grape variety to six different ones. I partnered with a new vineyard that I had never worked with before, Dell City Vineyards, which sits just in the shadow of the Guadalupe Mountains.

She also works with Lilli of the Vine in Lamesa. Because it has outgrown its 575 square foot production room and press, with which it was pressing 10 tons of fruit this year, Hodges will be moving production to Kerrville Hills Winery.

“I’m going to be sharing my time doing the production there and having the tasting room here,” she said. “The back area will become rental event space and storage for additional wine… The Kerrville Hills Winery production facility is essentially a vineyard incubator unlike anything in the state. the fact that we welcome the winegrowers who do it themselves in a shared space. “

The tasting room, which she hopes to open in February, will also offer coffee, tea and possibly beer; However, her wine will always be our focus, she said. She also hopes to sell pastries and charcuterie boards while it’s open. To be the first to know when it opens, be sure to follow Los Nopales on social media.

“It’s really easy to talk about your hometown, but if we don’t offer some of the luxuries that exist in the big cities, then it’s hard to encourage people to come back,” she said. “It’s kind of the mission behind this business which is to keep our people because we have something great going on here in Sterling City. We should embrace the house and that’s what wine really does.

the bites

–Whataburger has released a new limited batch of Spicy Ketchup. The Spicy Ketchup Limited Batch # 2 recipe starts with Whataburger’s signature fancy ketchup, then adds a hot sauce made from arbol and piquin peppers with a house blend of spices to complete it.

–The Red Plate Diner has announced the addition of breakfast. Starting Monday, customers can enjoy breakfast platters, avocado toast, Red Plate Diner oatmeal, pancakes, broken egg sandwiches and more. Breakfast hours are 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Saturday.

–Participate in a pasta-making class with Chef Kirsten Hocker from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on January 22. Register by calling 432-253-3660.

–Chocolate Decadence will return on January 28. The Aphasia Center and Diamondback Energy will host an evening of classic winter elegance for the 16th Annual Chocolate Decadence Fundraising Gala. Savor chocolate treats, delicious food, craft cocktails, enticing live and silent auction items and more. The event will take place from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Odessa Marriott Hotel and Conference Center. For more information, visit https://aphasiawtx.org/event/chocolate-decadence/.

–Cork and Pig Tavern in Odessa will be closed until January 13 for renovations.

–The Ellen Noel Art Museum will host “Les Diners de Gala” on March 10 to taste recipes inspired by Salvador Dali’s cookbook. The event coincides with the exhibition of the same name of works by Salvador Dali. The exhibition runs from January 13 to March 27 at the Ellen Noel Art Museum.

–Texas Roadhouse Midland and Odessa locations raised $ 11,333 for Pink the Basin during restaurant fundraising efforts in October.

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