Article #5, in the Series, Palestine Texas #101, “Sweet Dreams Winery”
Honestly, I was in the mood for a nap, after eating all that pie at the Oxbow Bakery & Antiques and wasn’t really sure if I wanted to experience a winery with such a full stomach. I tried valiantly to keep my eyelids open and view the gorgeous tall pines, that are more prevalent on the east side of Palestine Texas and especially here on ACR #441.
Then we made a right turn down a country road and the winery materialized. It’s name is “Sweet Dreams” Winery and that was just about where I went after completing the wine tasting at this great winery. If you surf Facebook you can check out the Sweet Dreams Facebook page at this link. If you need directions, this Sweet Dreams link has a map.
I had no idea what to expect, but as soon as we arrived I knew I liked Mike Pell, the owner. The minute we stepped out of the car, he greeted us. He had a very outgoing personality and just a tad sarcastic, which I like. I think he was a little on edge at first, but relaxed rapidly. Plus you can’t really miss the mustache! I have always called these Fu Manchu mustaches, but technically its name is a horseshoe mustache, for obvious reason. I showed Mike a wedding photo when mine was similar and we bonded instantly.
Mike showed us the exterior grounds and attractions. He can handle a party of around 250 people I am guessing and has seating for about half of that, with a covered patio, large covered porch and many picnic tables near the covered porch. The exterior is decorated with a plethora of funny signs and decorations. I can tell this man likes to have a good time and more than likely ensures his guest have a great time.
We entered the tasting room and Mike relayed the fact that a majority of his wines are made from a vast array of fruit products and his collection is not conventional. I wasn’t aware of this, but he has to be doing something right as his awards are proudly displayed around the tasting room. He is the proud owner of over 20 International awards. My curiosity was peaked, as Kim has always talked about her Grandmother Bordeaux’s fabulous Rhubarb Wine and couldn’t help but think about this, as a comparison.
Mike also branched out and has created his own line of BBQ sauce. I was going to purchase and try his BBQ sauce, but we got “involved” in the tasting of several wines and I completely forgot. I really like BBQing and wanted to get his sauce and try it. Next time I will buy it when I walk in the door! Mike also carries a vast assortment of other products like fruit jams and butters, mostly made in Texas.
You know how when you visit a vineyard you taste three to five various wines? Well, that was what I expected, but as it turns out we ran the gamut tasting everything from Pear, Plum, Peach, Watermelon to a Jalapeno infused wine that had a serious bite. My favorites were the Honey Pear, Bumble Bee Kiss and Midnight in Texas wines. He gave us a score card to take notes on thank God or I might not have remembered the names.
Mike then took us on a tour of his operation and explained how the process works. In the photo above you can see a sample of the fermentation tanks, with their spigots. He constantly tastes the various wines he is processing and filters out the sulfites, as he transfers the wines from tank to tank. When they are ready to be bottled, the wine is transferred to the final tank above, with a wooden platform inserted underneath. This makes it the perfect height for Mike to sit in his chair and fill the bottles. Afterwards he corks each bottle with the manual aquamarine colored press above.
Mike is a retired Battalion Chief for the Palestine Fire department and spent many a year risking his life and fighting fires, for the good folks of this town. His men gave him this collection of patches, axe, helmet shield and I think it reflects a great deal of respect that his men had for him. He must have been a great leader and firefighter. The magazine “Sweet Heat” is about his Jalapeno wine, so make sure you remove any impure thoughts from the proverbial gutter!
Mike buys his fruit products as locally as possible and really supports his community. The freeze this year had a major impact on buying peaches and he normally goes to Fairfield Texas. This year he had to make his search extend a little farther away to buy his peaches. He has a phenomenal array of wines and if you are a fan of fine wine I think you owe it to yourself to stop in and give this winery a try and sample his great wine. I guarantee you will be surprised at the quality and taste of his product.
*** My trip to Palestine Texas was sponsored by the City of Palestine Marketing Department. All opinions are solely mine and as always, generated without any influence.