Mandola Estate Winery
K. L. Sullivan
Summary: The Mandola Estate Winery is the result of Damian Mandola’s dreams. As a renowned chef, he established several restaurants. With an understanding of the relationship between food and wine, he was interested in starting a winery. The resulting winery is delightful to visit with numerous wines to taste, an event room for private parties and a large restaurant on the site. Plan to enjoy a visit to Mandola Estate Winery and the Trattoria Lisina restaurant.
The gate entrance to Mandola Estate Winery leads visitors past several acres of grapes to two wonderful landscaped Tuscan-style buildings. The first large building is the Trattoria Lisina restaurant. Within a few feet of Trattoria Lisina, visitors will discover a large facility for producing wine. Enter into a room with shelves of handcrafted pottery, walls of stone and brick arches. Overhead wood beams add to the ambiance. This building encompasses a tasting room, a long hallway with displays of the history of the winery and large picture windows giving visitors the opportunity to see inside the barrel, stainless steel tanks and bottling rooms. On the opposite side of this hallway, they added an adjacent event room. The event room with large windows into the barrel room offers event participants the ambiance of the barrel room without disrupting the barrel room's routine.
We briefly met Damian Mandola, owner and chef. Damian established several restaurants with his nephew Johnny Carrabba. Damian and Stan Duchman and their wives were friends in Houston. In August 2006, together they opened the Mandola Estate Winery tasting room. By August 2007, the restaurant opened within a few feet of the winery. The restaurant has a wonderful Italian style feel and unusual seating for some visitors. Several seats are located facing the open kitchen so that visitors can watch as the food is prepared. Sometimes visitors wait for these special seats.
The 17 acres of vineyards were planted in 2005 and 2006 and consist of Montepulciano, Muscat Blanc, Barbera, Sangiovese, Nero d’Avola, Vermentino and Aglianico. While the grapevines mature, the winery sources grapes from other vineyards in Texas. The landscaping around the winery and restaurant is beautiful and you should take time to walk by and explore.
Currently the winery produces 10,000 cases and hopes to double that number in the next few years. The winery sources grapes from other Texas growers who are under contract with Mandola. When the onsite vineyards produce sufficient quantities of grapes, Mandola Estate Winery will also produce estate-bottled wines.
Dave Reilly,chief of winery operations, graduated from Texas A & M and immediately went into the construction business. With encouragement from his wife, he became interested in vineyards and slowly began to move from construction to building and maintaining vineyards. As he learned more about viticulture, he became increasingly interested in winemaking.
When it became apparent that the winery needed an event room, Dave produced a plan. With Damian’s approval, they constructed the large event room. With windows to the outside and also facing the barrel room, copper chandeliers and a wine colored ceiling, this room would be appropriate for weddings, anniversaries and other large functions.
We tasted several wines with Dave in the tasting room.
Vermentino 2007 had a citrus aroma with grapefruit and lemon notes. The finish was crisp and had a citrus aftertaste. Viognier 2007 offered an aroma and taste of grass and citrus. The finish was crisp.
Sangiovese 2007 was a translucent purple/red with an aroma and taste of red cherries. The finish was crisp with a long cherry aftertaste and mild tannins. Montepulciano 2007 had a purple opaque color. The aroma was of red fruit, strawberries and raspberries. The taste was smooth and fruity. The fruity finish had tannins. Dolcetto 2007 offered an aroma and taste of red raspberries and cherries. The finish was crisp and fruity with a lingering fruit aftertaste. Zinfandel 2007 was a transparent dark red purple. The aroma reminded one of black fruit. The taste was of black fruit and smooth. The crisp black fruit finish had tannins and a long aftertaste. Canto Felice 2007 with a residual sugar of three percent was produced with a Sangiovese base. The aroma and taste was of red cherries and sweet. The finish was crisp with tannins.
We walked through the restaurant and noticed the open kitchen. Those who enjoy watching the chefs prepare meals can sit at the counter facing the kitchen. Seating is also available at tables. Enjoy your visit to Mandola Winery, taste great Italian wines, tour the wine making facility, and save time for the dining experience at the Trattoria Lisina restaurant.
13308 Fm 150 W
Driftwood, Texas 78619
GPS: N 30º 06.134’ W98º 00.801’
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