Grape Expectations

Think You Can't Take a Winery Vacation in Texas? Messina Hof Proves You Wrong

Eat, drink, be merry and sleep it off with the 39-year-old winery.

By Jody T. Morse September 8, 2016

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Paul and Merrill Bonarrigo with Messina Hof's first grape press.

Messina Hof is more than a run-of-the-mill, grape-to-press winery—not that grape-to-press wineries are too common in Texas to begin with. But Messina Hof is the most awarded winery in the state with the most varieties—more than 30 different grapes—and more than 90 different labels.

But for the wine tourist, it's notable for its three Texas locations in Bryan, Fredericksburg and Grapevine. The family of wineries also features two bed-and-breakfasts, a restaurant and an urban winery in a historic hotel. With their grassroots business cornerstones of family, tradition, and romance, what more could any wine lover ask for? How about open tastings, food pairing sessions, cooking demos, winery tours, destination weddings and wine club events?

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The Tasting Room and Wine Bar at the Bryan, Texas estate.

The Bryan location is where it all began in 1977, when sixth-generation winemaker Paul Vincent Bonarrigo and his wife Merrill began pressing grapes. Today, their son Paul Mitchell Bonarrigo is the company's CEO. From that place of inception has grown something of a oenophile's Disney World, loaded enough with treasures that visitors should plan to stay for at least a day if not the whole weekend. After a luxurious night’s sleep and morning of delectables at the Villa Bed & Breakfast, visitors might mosey over to the Tasting Room for a winery tour and some shopping before making their way to the Vintage House Restaurant for a spot of lunch—maybe a scrumptious shrimp scampi, chef’s signature pasta dish or fish of the day. The excursion wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Wine Room for a flight of the best that this winery has to offer. It might be worth planning a trip that will correspond with one of the year-round events such as Chocolate Night, dog-friendly Waggles & Wine or a cooking party with the chef.

For those heading closer to the Fredericksburg area, the company’s Hill Country site might make more sense. With a tasting room featuring more than 50 Messina Hof wines on tap—by the glass or the growler—plus weekly pairing specials and open-to-the-public extravaganzas like the Masquerade Ball, the Go Texans Wine Dinner and a Paella & Primitivo cooking class, visitors might just plan to stay for the weekend at the serene and stately Manor Haus B&B where each retreat suite includes a private entrance, living room, kitchenette and Wi-Fi access. Not to mention the welcome basket complete with breakfast items, juice and a complimentary bottle of Messina Hof sparkling wine, of course.

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Paul Vincent, Merrill, Sophia Marie, Paul Anthony, Karen and Paul Mitchell Bonarrigo in 2015.

Prefer to take your getaway closer to the Dallas/Fort Worth area? Plan for a stop by Messina Hof Grapevine—an urban winery experience at the Wallis Hotel in the historic district of downtown. Have your picture taken with the famous “Sidewalk Judge" statue, indulge in the gourmet menu or sample from among more than 40 wines available in the multiple tasting areas. There’s even a selection of ultra-premium wines exclusive to the Grapevine location. Wine accessories, apparel and personalized labels are also available in the gift shop. No reason to ever forget the experience or go home empty handed.

With such variety in wine offerings, multiple locations and events for everyone from dog lovers, to football fans to those looking for a beautiful place to tie the knot, Messina Hof is a winery worth visiting for any Texas wine-lover, whether novice to aficionado. But whatever you do, don't miss the Beau, a naturally sweet Muscat blend. It's our favorite.

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