MAKER: Fairhaven Vineyards & Winery in Hawkins
BACKGROUND: Retired Master Horticulturist R.L. Winters began Fairhaven in the winter of 2003 with an experimental planting of 100 trial vines. Winters is winemaker and chief viticulturist/enologist at Fairhaven, which he has grown into 6,000 vines that covers 11 acres in the Sabine River Valley.
PRODUCT: After eight years of development, Winters is taking his Lomanto wine to the Texas public for the first time at Grapefest Sept, 12-15 in Grapevine.
Fairhaven introduced the Lomanto grape and received gold and bronze medals in the Dallas Morning News International Wine Competition. It also won the American Hybrid category with its Lomanto red wine, the first such win for an American grape since 1873, at the Paris International Wine Competition, Winters said in a prepared statement.“Our tact has been to try to establish a reliable red and white juice base around the French American Hybrid grape,” he said. The group of hybrids was produced by the Texas breeder Thomas Volney Munson (1843 to 1913). While Fairhaven planted thousands of French-American hybrids, it also developed what is now the largest collection of Munson hybrids in the U.S., he said.
Fairhaven is the largest supplier of Lomanto starter vines in Texas, Winters said. Fairhaven is also the center of developmental research of the American Hybrids, he said. Using its genetic library to conduct advanced hybridizing, Fairhaven is beginning field trials of more than 200 new hybrids.
HISTORY: The Lomanto grape was bred by Munson in Denison in 1899, and introduced in 1902. Lomanto gained public attention after being promoted at the 1904 St. Louis World Exposition. With Munson’s death in 1913, the destruction of his Denison-based vine nursery and the arrival of prohibition, the wine and vine vanished.Fairhaven began locating the handful of surviving vines and the process of propagation in late 2005. By 2008, he was producing samples for evaluation and made the decision to resurrect the “Texas historical icon,” Winters said. Fairhaven has acquired an extensive collection of original documents, medals and other historical materials related to Munson and his work. One of the long-term goals is to provide a home at Fairhaven for public viewing of the collection.
CONTACT: Fairhaven Vineyards & Winery, at 5340 S. Farm-to-Market Road 2869 in Hawkins, can be reached at 903-769-4616 or www.fairhavenvineyards.com .