Mandola winery continues evolution
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.