Inwood Estates Vineyards
Inwood Estates Vineyards
1350 Manufacturing, Ste 209
Phone: (214) 902-9452
Contact: Dan Gatlin
It has been a very long road from the beginning to the release of these one-of-a-kind wines. Dan Gatlin grew up in the retail beverage trade as his family was the owners & operators of the Hasty chain of wine, spirits and convenience stores in Dallas, Texas. His father, Vernon Gatlin, had worked his way up from Depression Era beginnings after Prohibition. After service in WWII, Vernon Gatlin returned to Dallas and established himself as an astute businessman building the A&A Company to 28
stores, and then Hasty to 15 convenience and 11 wine & spirits stores under his ownership. Vernon Gatlin died in 1981 and his wife Virginia passed away in 1988.
Dan Gatlin built his wine skills as a buyer and eventually vice-president of the company. When Hasty was sold, he turned his interest to vineyard research. His
close contact in the 1970s with the California wine industry had allowed him to directly witness the coming-of-age of that industry in a way that not many people were allowed to see in those days. He therefore began the long process of researching whether Texas held any possilibilities for fine wine production by establishing one of the first vineyards in the state in 1981 sampling 22 all-vinifera varieties in Denton
The First Vineyard
This first vineyard, one of only 5 or 6 in the state at that time, proved to be an invaluable source of information, although its commercial production was limited. One of the first realizations that became evident from this planting was that Texas wines, unlike California, were destined to be heavily influenced by the terroir. This term, which literally means the "soil" or "land", is more widely taken in the wine industry to mean the flavors conveyed from all of the soil and site elements to the wine.
Of the many terroir factors available for discussion, the most prevalent in Texas is the high mineral content where particularly high calcium levels play a crucial role. This role varies from a welcome one to an adverse factor depending which grape variety is grown there and how it is vinified. Varieties that may have been thought to be dull in mineral neutral soils like the U.S. West Coast sometimes become "bright" and complex wine producers, while some respected varieties, like Cabernet for example, which has a high capacity to transfer mineral compounds into its juice, become harsh as varietal wines and need to be blended, like in Europe.
Although California relies heavily on its excellent climate to produce perfect sugar/acid balances, Texas relies mainly on its terroir and secondarily on its climate in one important regard: different grape varieties have different minimum respiration
requirements which were also defined in the first vineyard block. Respiration can be thought of as similar to the process in humans, where the vine "breathes in" during the day and "breathes out" at night. The limiting factor here is that each variety has a different minimum overnight temperature and corresponding number of hours needed at that temperature to respire completely. Therefore, if a grape like Tempranillo for example, needs a minimum of 8 hours per night at a temperature of 65 degrees or less to respire completely each night during the summer/fall ripening cycle, then this
requirement rules out areas where the overnight lows barely touch 70 degrees like most of Texas at that time of year.
The Discovery of the Palomino
Finally, one of the early bright spots in this first group was the lowly Palomino, once the most widely planted grape in Spain and primarily used for Sherry production. In the early wine trials from 1984 to 1988, its unique nectar-like fragrance and dense concentration made it a stand-out, but its shy production of less than one ton per acre was below economic feasibility to support a winery operation by itself. Therefore the
search continued for companion varieties. Although a number of grapes made drinkable wines, none of the others were deemed to be capable of premium wines by
Mr. Gatlin and the vineyard was abandoned. However, one thing was clear: the varieties that were the best candidates were those found in southern regions of
Europe, especially tracing down the Italian and Iberian peninsulas and this became the focus of his future plantings.
The Inwood Estates Vineyard
In 1997, Dan and Rose Mary Gatlin bought a large lot in a then-undervalued part of Dallas where they remodeled the house for their residence and established a
245-vine completely "urban" vineyard. This became a local point of interest and some early Palomino-Chardonnays were produced from there non-commercially as
the yield was less than 50 gallons per year. In late 2005, the Gatlins moved from there but the name stuck as the winery was being built in another part of the city. Today the current owner of the Inwood Road property has taken an interest in continuing the urban vineyard and the 2006 grapes contributed to one barrel of "Urban Dallas"
Newsom Vineyards is now the grower of both the Tempranillo and Cabernet which go into the Inwood Estates flagship wine. This location was chosen by Mr. Gatlin for its ability to meet the Tempranillo's respiration requirement which is a function of the elevation at over 4000'. However, being almost 400 miles from the winery, the grapes are field-crushed within minutes of begin taken from the vine. This captures 100% of the flavors instantly as harvesting takes place at night in the cold desert air around 58-60
degrees. The must can then be transported while on cold soak with zero degradation. Inwood Estates is the only winery in Texas which field-crushes and Mr. Gatlin learned this technique from a famous Napa-Valley winemaker in 1978.
Inwood Estates Today
The business was established in 2004 and the winery built in 2005 which housed the first in-house crush. The 2003 and 2004 wines were custom crushed at Wales Manor
Winery in McKinney, Texas where Mr. Gatlin served as winemaker for both vintages of Tempranillo-Cabernet. The 2003 Temp-Cab and the 2005 Palo-Chard were released August 1, 2006 to a great reception of restaurant customers in Texas' four largest cities: Dallas, Houston, Austin, San Antonio.
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