Wine Club takes an overnight adventure

David Laschinger

A long-time wine club in The Ranch that recently re-branded itself as Meritage, made its first out-of-town adventure in March. The trip, which had been planned for several months, was to Kiepersol Estates south of Tyler, Texas, about 2 1/2 hours east of Denton. Eight couples in the group arrived at Kiepersol by mid-day Saturday; some carpooling while others took their own vehicle.

Kiepersol is named for a family farm in South Africa from where the owner-operator, Pierre de Wet and his two daughters emigrated. The Estates consists of several diverse ventures including a housing addition with very nice custom homes on generous sized lots. Sixty-three acres of vineyards hand-planted in 1998 and 1999 produce estate-grown red and white wines that capture Old World style alongside Texas pride. In addition, the company operates an upscale restaurant, complete with a rustic bar and five well-appointed bed and breakfast rooms. The Stable House behind the winery has more guest rooms—a bit more rustic since it is in a converted horse stable—and a large gathering area complete with a full kitchen and huge dining table.

Shortly after arriving at Kiepersol, the Meritage group took the vineyard and winery tour, followed by wine tasting. Most members also took the distillery tour, again followed by a tasting of the Kiepersol bourbon, vodka and rum. Following the tours and tastings, our group gathered in the Stable House for light appetizers, more wine, conversation and laughs. A chartered bus from Robson Ranch—arranged by the Road Runners—was also at Kiepersol that Saturday afternoon, but the Meritage group and the Road Runners were unable to meet and visit while there. Everyone headed to Kiepersol’s large restaurant for dinner, then again gathered at the Stable House for dessert and after-dinner samples of grapefruit or lemon vodka for those willing to try it.

On Sunday morning, the couples staying in the Stable House awoke to the sound of guinea fowl roaming through the vineyard eating bugs. They are nature’s pesticide according to Pierre who does not use man-made chemicals in the vineyard.

Everyone gathered for breakfast in the restaurant before heading in separate directions. Some planned to visit the Azalea Trail, a springtime attraction in Tyler since 1929. It was the first official weekend for the trail this year. Unfortunately the azaleas were not yet in full bloom.

Meritage group truly enjoyed the outing and is looking forward to taking another adventure like it in the future.