By Nan McCreary

Messina Hof Winery in Bryan, Texas, was named the Top Texas Winery at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo™ 2021 Rodeo Uncorked! International Wine Competition held Nov. 13-15 at NRG Center in Houston.

A total of 2,601 entries from 18 countries were featured in this year’s event, including wines from Argentina, England, France, Italy, Japan, New Zealand and Spain. Texas wines represented 346 entries and this year’s featured region, Sonoma County, California, entered 351 wines.

Messina Hof, a long-time award-winner at the Rodeo Uncorked! competition, received a total of 22 medals in the 2021 event. They include:

  • 2018 Artist Series Primitivo: Gold Medal and Reserve Texas Class Champion
  • 2018 Artist Series Sangiovese: Gold Medal, Class Champion, and Texas Class Champion
  • 2018 Paulo Tempranillo: Gold Medal, Reserve Class Champion, and Reserve Texas Class Champion

“Messina Hof is elated to have won the Top Texas Winery from the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo,” founder Paul Bonarrigo said. “It is a true blessing to receive such a prestigious award, and it is an honor to be recognized for the fruits of our work and passion in making exceptional Texas Wine.”

The Messina Hof legacy began in 1977 when Bonarrigo and his wife, Merrill, planted their grapes in Bryan, Texas. They named their vineyard in honor of their families of origin, who were from Messina, Sicily and Hof, Germany. At the time, there were only three other wineries in Texas: Val Verde in Del Rio (1883), Fall Creek Vineyards (1975) in the Texas Hill Country and Llano Estacado in Lubbock (1976). Messina Hof’s first vintage release was 1983.

Since those early days, the Bonarrigos have actively promoted the Texas wine industry, an industry that is now the fifth largest wine producer in the nation, with over 400 wineries. The Texas Hill Country ranks second in wine tourism only after Napa. Messina Hof’s production has expanded too. Today, it is one of the fastest-growing and most award-winning wineries in the state, with over 90 labels from 32 grape varietals.

Messina Hof’s presence in the Texas wine landscape exemplifies the popularity of its wines. In 2011, The Messina Hof Hill Country Winery opened its doors in Fredericksburg, Texas, in the heart of wine tourism. The winery sits on nearly 10 acres along Highway 290 Wine Road, and has its own vineyard of Lenoir grapes, used to make traditional style ports. The winery includes a spacious tasting room featuring over 50 Messina Hof wines and indoor and outdoor event spaces.

In 2014, Messina Hof opened its first urban winery in Grapevine, Texas. The winery is in the heart of Grapevine’s historic downtown district at the site of the original Wallis Hotel, built in 1891. The location offers 40 different wines, tastings and event spaces. This year, Messina Hof will open a fourth location, Harvest King Winery and Kitchen in the Harvest Green community in Richmond, Texas. This will be the largest winery in the Houston area and southeast Texas, and will include a tasting room, wine bar, an open kitchen restaurant that will accommodate 130 guests, 2,600 square-feet of covered patio for private events and tastings, and a wine production and barrel room where guests can taste wine in progress.

While Messina Hof has earned countless accolades in their 40-plus years of history, Paul and Merrill are not resting on their laurels. They have turned over the reins to their son, Paul Mitchell, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and the University of California at Davis winemaking certificate program, and his wife Karen, who are proudly carrying on the family legacy to keep Messina Hof at the forefront of the Texas wine industry. Most recently, Messina Hof released the Bonarrigo Family Wine collection as part of the newest Heritage Series dedicated to honoring “the Family.” The Bonarrigo Family began making wine in Messina, Sicily, over 200 years ago, and that heritage has continued for seven generations. This new collection honors tradition of the family winemaking lineage with prestigious Old-World style wines crafted from only Italian grape varietals grown in Texas. For more information on the 2021 Top Texas Winery, visit the Messina Hof website messinahof.com


The Rodeo Uncorked! International Wine Competition, now in its 18th year,  is one of the largest and most prestigious wine competitions in the country, For more information on this year’s winners, click here or join our Rodeo Uncorked! Facebook group.