When the keeper of the old school mascot passed away, Big Buzz the yellow jacket was entrusted to Bruno. Alumni will be happy to note that he had it completely restored and is ready to loan it to all class reunions. You have to pick it up and return it yourself, but that's not a problem in Texas, where everybody seems to have at least one pickup truck. If you are without one, it's your good fortune that in Texas, everybody wants to help.
Bruno and George Winery opened in 2000 and is distributed well in Texas. Bruno bought out his partner and the wine labels now show "Bruno Collection," although the winery's name still has George in it. The big liquor/beer/wine chain Spec's carries his product, as do other locations. The tasting room is not open all the time, but Bruno is more than happy to schedule a tasting by appointment. Call 409-287-1212 or 409-963-8235 to schedule your trip today. Don't go in thinking that the tasting will be over in a half-hour or so. That was my mistake. Our tasting was a three-hour affair. One of Bruno's favorite expressions is, "I've got a story about that, too!"
Here's the tasting menu for Bruno and George Winery:
Candlelight Strawberry - Fruit wine made from California strawberries, it shows real strawberry flavor with great earthy and herbal notes. $12
Signature Peach - The peaches come from California, and the wine hits 12-13% abv. Schnapps on the nose with a big peach flavor on the finish. $12
Holiday Blueberry - This is Bruno's only fruit wine currently made with Texas fruit. A very deep blueberry flavor is impressive. It's not like a juice at all. Bruno pours this with the sidebar that it's "always a holiday at Bruno and George." $12
Arapaho Blackberry - Huge blackberry flavor all the way through in this one. $12
Yellowjacket Raspberry - Named after our high school mascot, the Yellow Jacket has a big fruit expression, and is a hit with dark chocolate. $15
Salvatore's Red Plum - Made with Italian red plums, Bruno was not allowed to state that on the label. Alcohol regulators thought it would make people think it was an Italian wine. Bearing an ancestor's name instead, the wine shows an excellent rosé quality. It's reminiscent of Provence, with very nice, earthy finish. $12
Other Than Standard Raisin - Other Than Standard is the category this wine fell into before Bruno lobbied for a change that made his raisin wine of higher than 14% legal. It reaches 16.3% abv. He can now claim it's a dessert raisin wine on the label. The wine has actually won awards in the Port category. Vinified in a single fermentation, the wine is not overly sweet - it's nothing like Vin Santo. It has a nice viscosity and is aged in a steel tank for three to four years. Made from California raisins, it has a beautiful, rich color while the nose shows raisin, brown sugar and caramel. $12
The Bruno Collection fruit wine is non vintage, as prescribed by alcoholic beverage regulations.
One of the many stories Bruno told us during the tasting concerned an old vase. It seems that during the construction of the tasting room, the old, green vase - adorned with grapes - was unearthed. "They didn't hit anything else during all the digging, just that vase," says Bruno. "I like to think it was divine intervention. The way the raisin wine happened, there must have been somebody on my shoulder." The vase still has a place of honor on the tasting bar, even if it is as a dump bucket. I think his grandfather would be proud.
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