Sniff, swirl, sip, repeat. It’s a sunny evening on the Texas High Plains. You are with your family enjoying a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon and a savory meat and cheese board at the newest tasting room location in downtown Lubbock, Texas. Surrounded by friendly people, tumbleweeds, pump jacks, cowboys, livestock and …wine? The South Plains has become one of the most notorious hot spots in the wine production industry. The old saying, “wine brings people together,” rings true at Burklee Hill Vineyards.
“We believe that wine is best enjoyed with food and hopefully, with friends and family.”Elizabeth Hill
Burklee Hill Vineyards is a family-owned and operated vineyard that produces locally grown wine from grape to glass. Chace Hill, a horticulture graduate from Texas Tech University, applied his knowledge to the care of vines. Chace and his wife, Elizabeth, began growing wine grapes on the Texas High Plains in 2002 when they planted their first five acres on their family land. Burklee Hill was founded in 2018 and is named after Chace’s grandfathers “Burk” and Eddie “Lee.”
“We always loved the family heritage as the vineyard is on land owned by the family for at least 100 years and farmed by six generations,” Chace Hill said.
The vineyard is seen as a tribute to their ancestors which grew their passion for wine production.
The grapes are harvested in the summer and early fall and are taken to a facility for the crush and press process. During the process, the grape skins are removed for white wines and are left on to produce red wine. Then, the fermentation process begins where the juice is converted into wine. It is a natural process but is monitored and aided by Burklee Hill’s desired winemaker.
After fermentation, the skins are removed from the red wine and the wine may be aged for a short to long-term time depending on the wine. Sometimes, wines are aged in tanks and sometimes, they are aged in barrels, especially for reds.
After a certain time of aging, Chace and Elizabeth determine when they believe the wine is ready to bottle and the wine is filtered and finalized for bottling.
Burklee Hill Vineyards, since established, offers several varieties of home-grown and produced wine, including dry reds, such as Malbec, Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, and blends. They also produce dry whites, including Pinot Grigio, Roussanne, Sparkling Pinot Meunier and blends. Additionally, they have a dry rose’ and several sweet whites.
Since its opening in 2002, Burklee Hill introduced two wine tasting rooms located in Levelland and Lubbock. While the Levelland location is the original location, the Hill family wanted to establish a new and improved atmosphere for wine connoisseurs.
History and wine collided when Burklee Hill decided to renovate the nationally known Kress Department store building. Each Kress building was known to be elegaent and aesthetically pleasing. Built in the 1800s, the Lubbock Kress building was listed on National Register of Historic Places as a well-known historic place.
Chace and Elizabeth knew it was the right place to share the authenticity of Texas wine with a historic twist to honor their family in past generations of viticulturists.
“We’ve always had a passion for downtown. Recently, we were intrigued by the revitalization efforts directed at downtown Lubbock,” Elizabeth Hill said.
Each day is a learning process for the new tasting room owners. Two years of planning later, they named the Lubbock location their new location for Burklee Hill Vineyards.
In addition to the tasting room, they offer a bistro and have an in-house chef that crafts dishes paired with Burklee Hill wine.
“We believe that wine is best enjoyed with food and hopefully, with friends and family,” Elizabeth said.
Burklee Hill’s mission is to provide an exclusive experience for families to enjoy during special occasions. Food, wine, and entertainment. What more could you want? Burklee Hill also has a large event room at the location that can accommodate up to 97 people for parties, anniversaries, small weddings, showers, meetings, etc. They feature live music on the weekends and will soon be offering various events, such as wine dinners, wine education, and markets.
Hill says his favorite part about working in the wine industry is the wine tasting process with people that are new to Burklee Hill wines. It is rewarding to discuss the development from grape to glass with individuals that are unfamiliar with grapes grown in the high plains.
Chace and Elizabeth wear different hats along with running the tasting room. Elizabeth incorporated the study of wine with and agricultural law into her school projects. She later wrote a Law Review article for Texas Tech Law Review concerning the Texas Wine Grape Industry and has spoken at several conferences.
“I enjoy seeing friends, families, couples and groups enjoy a fabulous experience in the gorgeously renovated building, while pairing our local wine with good food and great company. We want our place to be a destination,” Elizabeth said.