Newsom, Hill and Rowdy Bolen, co-owners of Trilogy Cellars, started their business venture just to make a three-family malbec for their closest family and friends. When Hill’s grandmother decided to sell her building on Levelland’s main street, the trio knew the time was right to start a tasting room. In fact, Newsom was so sure about it he told Hill to “write her a check or I will.” Nine months later, Trilogy Cellars opened its doors.
The Texas wine grape industry is growing, especially in the High Plains. According to Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association, there are nearly 500 acres of wine grapes grown in Texas. About 80 percent of those grapes are grown on the High Plains which is the northern and western side of Texas. The wine grape economy in Texas is valued at $13.1 billion. These figures, among other things, contributed to the opening of Trilogy Cellars.
Trilogy Cellars represents three families: the Newsoms, Bolens and Hills. The three families are agricultural-based families with different growing experiences. Each family plays their own special role in making Trilogy Cellars work.
“The care and consideration we put into our product,” Bolen said, “is unlike what you would get if you were just buying a bottle of wine from a retail store.”
Newsom is a third-generation cotton farmer who started growing wine grapes in 2008 after researching viticulture for five years. Newsom and his wife, Cindy, have two kids, Raenee and Keegan, who are continuing the farming tradition through growing wine grapes. Newsom has a field-first outlook to making wine and believes a good product starts in the field.
“We could not produce the product in the bottle we have,” Newsom said, “if we didn’t do a good job in the field.”
Hill is a fifth-generation farmer who started growing wine grapes as an alternative to growing cotton. After graduating from Texas Tech University in 2005 with a degree in horticulture, Hill decided to expand the vineyard and grow wine grapes full-time. Hill is now the manager of Krick Hill Vineyards, as well as owner and operator of Chace Hill Vineyard Consulting, LLC.
We have dirt in our veins; that’s what makes Trilogy Cellars completely different.
Bolen is a first-generation wine grape grower who started his vineyard in 2010. Bolen and his wife, Tameisha, own and operate Bolen Vineyards in Smyer, Texas. Their daughter Reese is so passionate about wine grape growing that, at just fourteen, she is planting her own vineyard.
“Reese is really intrigued by the end-product and what the potential could be,” Bolen said. “That is really what drives her to develop her vineyard and make it her own.”
The three families’ vineyards are located in Hockley County, just west of Lubbock. During the growing season, each family, with the help of some hired hands, spends about 40 to 50 hours a week in the vineyard getting ready for harvest. Harvest takes place as early as the first week of August and goes as late as mid-October. During harvest, they work up to 60 hours a week and work throughout the night in order to keep the fruit cool for transportation to the wineries.
Newsom, Hill, and Bolen are very hands-on with every aspect of the winemaking process. They pride themselves on growing high-quality wine grapes that result in high-quality wine. Newsom says the work in the field is what sets Trilogy Cellars apart from other wineries in Texas.
“We have dirt in our veins,” Newsom said, “that’s what makes Trilogy Cellars completely different.”
Once the fruit has been harvested, it is sent to Llano Estacado Winery in Lubbock, Texas, to be made into wine. Although the wine is not made at Trilogy Cellars, it is carefully directed and monitored by the Trilogy Cellars team. After the wine is made, it is sent to McPherson Cellars where it is bottled and labeled.
After the wine has been bottled and labeled, it goes to the tasting room where it can finally be enjoyed. The tasting room is in a remodeled building that was built in 1926. Prior to Trilogy’s grand opening in October 2016, Newsom, Hill, and Bolen stripped the building down to its bones to expose the original plaster that was chipped away to uncover some of the original brick.
Guests who come into the Trilogy Cellars tasting room can enjoy a variety of award-winning wines, including the pinot grigio, reserve malbec, reserve merlot, and gewurztraminer. These wines and many more can be enjoyed by the bottle or glass in the tasting room. Guests can also enjoy a tasting while learning more about Trilogy Cellars.
Newsom, Hill, and Bolen enjoy sharing their passion with the local community and explaining how wine grapes are grown, harvested and crafted into wine. Newsom says the challenges he faces from growing wine grapes differ from the challenges he faces growing cotton because of the delicate nature of grape production. While a cotton grower will more than likely never wear a shirt made from his crop alone, the experience of a wine grape grower is much different.
“There is an intimacy that you grow with grapes that when you finally pop that cork or unscrew that bottle and pour it for someone, it’s special,” Newsom said. “There is nothing like sharing something that you have taken from the start all the way to finish with a customer.”
As tedious as the winemaking process is, Newsom, Hill, and Bolen continue to grow Trilogy Cellars. They hope to spread their vision of producing high-quality wine grape and encourage other growers to take pride in what they grow and share it with their local community.