COLEMAN—Brownwood residents will soon be able to enjoy a glass of Texas wine from a new vineyard just miles down the road.
Rancho Loma Vineyards in downtown Coleman is opening to the public on Friday for meals and wine tastings. The winery is the latest endeavor from Robert and Laurie Williamson, owners of the popular Rancho Loma property near town as well as the Rancho Pizzeria across the street.
While the Rancho Loma name is on the winery, the Williamsons run the operation in partnership with Tom and Jamie Munson of Brownwood; Ed and Roberta Brandecker of Abilene; Tom and Teresa Headstream of Abilene; Dr. Ed and Pam Hellman of Lubbock; and Tony Bowden of San Francisco.
Robert Williamson said he began considering the winery several years ago when a California winemaker told him the Rancho Loma soil was perfect for growing grapes. “That kind of started the ignition a little bit,” Williamson said, “having something to offer the wine industry as a great place to grow.”
Williamson said the vacant property across the street from the pizzeria had long been an eyesore. The buildings were in poor condition when the family purchased them, but after a year of work they converted the abandoned car dealership and filling station into a state-of-the-art wine production facility and tasting room. While the stone walls of the old dealership are still prominent, the room now features a central serving area with marble countertops, tile floors and two large photographs of Parisian street life on the wall. Williamson said most of the furniture and decor is locally sourced.
With help from their business partners, the Williamsons were able to give winemaker Kyle Johnston everything he needs in the rest of the facility.
Johnston is a graduate of the Texas Tech viticulture and enology program, and he met the Williamsons through Tech professor Dr. Ed Hellman. Johnston said he couldn’t miss the opportunity to help create a brand-new winery.
“Robert gave me his pitch on what the goal was and what they wanted to do here with food and wine,” Johnston said. “Kind of redefining Texas wines. Not just putting a product out there but putting a premium product out there.
“As a young winemaker, to get the opportunity to start a winery from the ground up, to put a region or city back on the map — that felt like something I couldn’t pass up,” he said.
So far the winery has bottled two white wines, two red wines and a Cinsault Rosé.
“We didn’t want to make great wine in a couple of years,” Johnston said. “We wanted to come out of the gate making a splash. I feel like with the wines that we’ve bottled, we’re going to do that.”
Robert Williamson said his winery will emphasize the best food and wine pairings and help people discover new flavors in both. “We’re in the education business,” he said.
Williamson said great wine is a vital and longstanding part of society — after all, he said, the first thing Noah did when he got off the ark was plant a vineyard.
Rancho Loma Vineyards is located at 411 S. Commercial Ave. in downtown Coleman. It will be open Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. A standard wine tasting is $15, while a food and wine pairing is $45.
The winery will also host monthly tours and is available for private events.