Texas Wine: Meet The Winemaker – Charlie Kidd of Flat Creek Estates, owned and operated by Rick and Madelyn Nabors
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Texas Wine Crafted with the California Touch The wines at Flat Creek Estates Vineyard and Winery founded in 1998 by Rick and Madelyn Nabors have always been notable. But since California native Charlie Kidd joined the team as winemaker in 2008, the wines are even more impressive. Kidd is not just a winemaker, he’s a viticulturist, or farmer of the grapes. And you can taste the care and experience he puts into each quality bottle. According to proprietor Madelyn Nabors, Flat Creek has grown in myriad ways over the years. Kidd has increased wine production from 5,000 cases to 10,000 cases. They have expanded their tasting room, added a bistro with a new chef and were dubbed “one of the most amazing wineries to visit” by Food & Wine Magazine. “We have lots of venues within our complex,” says Madelyn, including an event center which is frequently used for weddings, a music series called Jammin’ in the Vineyards, a chef’s series, and wine education events conducted by winemaker Kidd. The lofty stone and stucco winery located in the idyllic rolling central Texas Hill Country is named after Flat Creek, which runs north of the property. It’s a nice country drive, about 20 minutes from Austin near Marble Falls. The tasting room is unique in that wine samples are brought to each guest at their own private table instead of guests standing at the tasting bar. The “back porch” with a lush view of vineyards is a favorite spot to relax over a glass of wine and a cheese tray. We caught up with the winemaker during the beautiful and bustling harvest season. Here’s what Kidd shared with us about the winery. Since you joined Flat Creek, what winemaking changes have you contributed?
The biggest change has been the increase in our wine production. We’ve completely revamped the vineyards by removing all the dead vines and retraining the current vines. My background in these procedures was helpful in the upgrading. After training at California Polytech University San Luis Obispo, I started a vineyard development company and designed and developed 13 different vineyards in California. After that, I developed my own wine label named John Alan where my focus was on growing and producing Bordeaux style blends and Rhone varietals, which consistently won best of class and best of show awards. I believe someone who knows both sides of the industry—the farming of the grapes and the science of winemaking—produces the best wine. What can you tell us about the new bistro and chef at the winery? The bistro is open for lunch and brunch Friday through Sunday with a rustic casual American menu. I planted an organic garden on the grounds and the chef, Sean Fulford, uses the fresh vegetables to produce many of the dishes, which are paired with our wines. Sean was formerly with Eddie V’s in Austin. The Flat Creek wines—many of which are Italian style—are very food-friendly. Some favorite dishes on Sean’s menu include smoked salmon, roasted pheasant, carrot and ginger bisque and the triple chocolate tart. Exactly where are all the grapes grown and which varietals do you produce? We source fruit from the High Plains and grow the remaining sixty percent or so on the estate. Also a small bit of fruit comes from Lodi, California. Blended wines produced with some out-of-state grapes will have “American” listed on the wine label. We produce some Italian style wines including Pinot Grigio and a Sangiovese called Super Texan, along with Syrah, Tempranillo, and Viognier, our newest one. We also produce a red blend called Buckin’ Horse red, some port, and a few Muscato wines. I prefer blended wines in order to achieve complexity. Where can consumers buy Flat Creek wines in Texas? HEB, Kroger, some Spec’s, World Market and Twin Liquors.