Man­dola win­ery con­tin­ues evo­lu­tion

Guide to Dripping Springs - - Front page -

To Damian Man­dola, qual­ity is ev­ery­thing. That in­cludes his ven­tures into the world of wine.

The culi­nary ge­nius, restau­ra­teur and PBS cook­ing show host is cre­at­ing su­perb wines with part­ner Stan Duch­man at Man­dola Es­tate Win­ery at its vine­yard in Drift­wood, which is serv­ing wines now, and its first crop of grapes will be har­vested in 2008.

The Man­dola Es­tate Win­ery, just off FM 150, is a stun­ning struc­ture, fea­tur­ing a Mediter­ranean-style build­ing.

Al­though the vine­yard and neigh­bor­ing restau­rant, which will open this sum­mer, are nes­tled in the Texas Hill Coun­try, the fla­vor of the place could eas­ily have pa­trons think­ing of Tus­cany, par- tic­u­larly when en­joy­ing the el­e­gance of the win­ery’s tast­ing room, un­der its 20-foot vaulted ceil­ing.

Mark Penna is the wine­maker at the vine­yard.

“I know this has been a dream of Stan’s and Damian’s for years,” Penna said. “I was very lucky to have hit the tim­ing just right and con­nected up with them.”

The com­plex and vine­yard stretches out on a slope above Onion Creek, with al­most 20 acres of newly planted grape vines soak­ing up the warm sun and cool evening breezes. The cli­mate echoes the warmer, drier con­di­tions of South­ern Italy and Si­cily.

The vines planted are in their in­fancy and will come to ma­tu­rity over the next few years. Bet­ter known va­ri­eties such as the rich Mon­tepul­ciano, sweet Moscato, smoky Barbera, and noble San­giovese have been planted. Lesser known grapes like the fruity Ver­mentino, hearty Nero d’Avilo, and the aro­matic Aglian­ico are also thriv­ing.

“Th­ese grapes do well in hot cli­mates,” Penna said. “Per­fect for our area. And they make nice wines.”

The restau­rant, Trattoria Lisina, will be a ca­sual, fam­ily run, Ital­ian eat­ing es­tab­lish­ment just like the small trat­to­rie that dot the Ital­ian coun- try­side and cities.

When opened, the restau­rant will also share the warm, rus­tic, Tus­can coun­try feel like the tast­ing room. The fare will be “cucina rus­tica.” Some of the dishes will in­clude braised meats, like Osso Buco, lamb stew, roasted pork, homemade pasta with Wild Boar Ragu, thin, crisp pizza from a wood burn­ing oven and grilled steaks like the fa­mous Bis­tecca alla Fiorentina.

Lisina will have an ex­ten­sive Ital­ian wine list and will

The Man­dola Es­tate Win­ery fea­tures

a fab­u­lous tast­ing room.

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