This year, more than 2,500 wines were entered into the annual Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo's International Wine Competition. Of those entries, 736 were from Texas wineries. And of those Texas wineries, Messina Hof swept up 20 medals and the coveted title of Top Texas Wine for its 2004 Solara, which was a double-gold winning wine this year. This year's competition also marked the fifth time that Messina Hof has been the most-awarded Texas winery since the competition began in 2004.
Of course, it could be argued that Messina Hof wins so often because it enters so many bottles of wine each year: The winery entered at least 20 wines this year, all of which received at least a bronze-level award, meaning that 26 percent of the 60 total awards given to Texas wines were given to Messina Hof.
But we prefer to look at this way instead: Messina Hof's winning wines have raised over $400,000 for the HLSR's scholarship programs over the years, and that's what the competition is all about in the end.
The winery, which is located north of Houston in Bryan, announced plans this year to expand to Fredericksburg, where it plans to open a second winery and resort in 2012. For now, however, Houstonians looking for a weekend adventure can still participate in tours -- as well as wine-stomping and harvest activities during certain times of the year -- at the Bryan-based winery.
As Mai Pham wrote of the winery: "If you've been saving up to experience this somewhere in California wine country, there's no need. For $45, the Texas version at Messina Hof is a little corny and a whole lot of fun."
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Other winners at the 2011 International Wine Competition were:
• Grand Champion Best of Show - Marchesi Antinori Srl Guado al Tasso, Bolgheri, 2007 • Reserve Grand Champion Best of Show - Cellar Costers del Ros L'Obila, Priorat, 2004 • Top Texas Wine - Messina Hof Solara, Texas, 2004 • Top French Wine - Vincent Girardin Pouilly Fuisse, Vieilles Vignes, Pouilly Fuisse, 2009 • Top All‐Around Winery - Francis Coppola Winery, Napa Valley • Top Wine Company - Trinchero Family Estate • Top Sparkling Wine - Laetitia Vineyard & Winery Brut Rose, Arroyo Grande Valley, 2007 • Top White Wine - Marchesi Antinori Srl Castello della Sala Estate Cervaro della Sala, Umbria, 2009 • Top Red Wine - Niner Wine Estates Twisted Spur, Paso Robles, 2008 • Top Sweet Wine - Hardy's Whiskers, South Eastern Australia, NV • Top Value Wine - Red Diamond Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Washington State, 2008