In recent stories and blog posts on the Internet, you’ve probably seen reference to Texas hill country winemaker John Rivenburgh as the “Johnny Appleseed” of Tannat or the “Father of Texas Tannat”. In a recent, Zoom meet-up with John, owner of Kerrville Hills Winery, I shortened all this and simply greeted him as Texas’s “Johnny Tannat”.
My mission in our discussion was not Tannat-centric. It was my intention to explore another side of John Rivenburgh… his interest in another deep, dark tannic grape, Sagrantino. What prompted me in this quest was an alignment of the stars and the Moon… not really.
What got me going was the receipt of two bottles of Sagrantino, both made by John. The first, Kerrville Hills Winery 2017 Sagrantino, Narra Vineyards, 2017, was gifted to me by my friend and photographer Jim Skogsberg. Nearly the same day, I received a second bottle in a box [Rivenburgh Wine, Texas High Plains, Sagrantino, Narra, Vineyards 2016] with a handwritten note –
“Russ. Enjoy this bottle. Only five left now. I have been blown away with this variety! Its history says it all. A true testament to nearly a decade of working to get this in a
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