After months of work and planning, Regan and Carey Meador, proprietors of Southold Farm+Cellar will be moving to Texas next week with their young family and young wine brand. I’m going to miss them more than I care to admit and I know I’m not alone.
Much has been written about both their exciting wines and their trials and tribulations with the Town of Southold. I could write about all of that again — but honestly, I just don’t have the energy for it. It’s old news, anyway, and barely matters at this point.
Carey and Regan are moving on and the North Fork community’s loss is the Texas wine community’s gain.
It’s a lot of work to move not only a family but a wine brand and operation. Moving a winery — without changing its name — from one state to another is at least exceedingly rare, and at most potentially unprecedented.
Carey and Regan have already bought the land that will become their new vineyard and hold their new tasting room. They’ve put deposits down on vines they’ll eventually plant on that land. They’ve signed contracts to buy grapes for the 2017 vintage and beyond from which they’ll make their first Texas wines. And they are also working on transferring all of their winery licensing.
However, Regan, when talking about the move, seems most excited about the site he and Carey have chosen. “We bought a 62-acre parcel just outside of Stonewall, Texas, that mostly consists of a large hill. We’ve already begun building our winery on the property,” he told me, adding, “While the land is bigger than here, our tasting room and winery will be almost the same square footage as we were set to do here — just enough.” They will also build a family home on the property.
There is a 1956 geodetic survey marker at the top of the hill. The name on it is “Grape” and that hill is a big reason that Regan thinks it’s a special site. “One of our big focuses for Texas wine-growing is mitigating the sun, which there is plenty, so we searched for hillsides on the north side. They help with air drainage for frost events, also take longer to warm up, delaying bud break and prolonging ripeness,” he said.
They won’t plant their new vineyard until 2018 because they have to clear the property first — and do so carefully. Because it’s a hill, they need to approach things with an eye to preventing erosion.
For 2017, they’ll be working with a handful of growers in the High Plains region of Texas that are growing grapes like Mourvèdre, aglianico, roussanne and sagrantino. Regan also found someone growing a little bit of teroldego, the only grape he’s worked with here on the North Fork that he’ll continue to work with.
It’s easy to imagine that winemaking and the wine industry are quite a bit different in Texas, but Regan seems excited about the differences and where the Texas industry is headed. “One huge difference is the sun and heat, and how do you manage it. That comes from both site and variety selection and also training and viticultural practices. [Texas] is growing so fast, with new wineries and vineyards popping up like crazy with tons of youthful energy. It’s exciting to be a part in pushing the quality envelope and to discover what Texas is capable of producing.”
He did so somewhat quietly, but Regan made 2016 wines on the North Fork from grapes grown in their former Southold vineyard. Those wines will be released “once everything is up and running” in Texas, which he hopes will be by June. At that time, they hope to launch a new wine club and yes, they will absolutely be able to ship back to New York. I’ve never been more excited about buying Texas wine in my life.
Until then, safe travels to Carey, Regan, Coralai and Sawyer. You will be missed by so many but we all know that you’re moving on to bigger and better things.