As we grow as a winery, it makes sense to step outside of our comfortable [Texas] bubble we know and love and share a piece of our world with new fans we might not have otherwise encountered. This means leaving the grounds of William Chris to meet new people, taste new things and experience a new style of hospitality.
We did just that last month when our crew headed north to Chicago for wine dinners at Nico Osteria and The Gage. We’ll admit, although we’ve seen growth in this new market (outside of Texas, it is one of our biggest markets where we ship wine), we didn’t expect the overwhelmingly positive response from everyone we met. From fans that traveled from Michigan, New York and even Houston for the dinners, to the sommeliers and chefs we worked side by side with to pair the meals, to the bartenders we met by chance—everyone not only embraced William Chris wines and our staff, but were absolutely eager to share the good Texas wine word. Having never been exposed to the often sub-par Texas wine that’s been the generalization our region, these new and thirsty fans presented the perfect palate to embrace the wines we’ve worked so hard to grow and bottle. Not only were we blown away by the response, but we were blown away by the hospitality of Chicago. As prideful Texans, we think everything is better here (rightfully so), but our eyes were opened when we set foot in Chi Town. The culinary scene is absolutely world-renowned. The cuisine was incredible (who knew a crudo bar at The Gage would pair so perfectly with our pétillant naturel?), and the service, impeccable. We had trendsetting sommeliers chomping at the bit to sample our wine, which of course is an incredible feeling for our hardworking team. Taking off from Midway, we left feeling more inspired than ever. Our minds filled with new ideas leaving us revitalized, refreshed and inspired.
Once we were back on Texas soil, we headed to the Bacon Bash, an annual bacon cook-off created to raise awareness and funds for children with Type One Diabetes and Niki Warms the Cold (a charity that collects blankets and coats for those in need) in Cranfills Gap, Texas. We were encouraged by our good friend Rebecca Conley over at Brennan Vineyards to enter a team for the cook-off. At first, we thought, this will be a great party—a way to blow
off steam post-harvest and a cause near and dear to our heart as our co-founder Chris spent his childhood working at a camp for those with Juvenile Diabetes. But as we grew closer we thought, hell, let’s take this competition and give our fellow competitors (legit restaurants, breweries and wineries) a run for their money. All of us have a background in food and are pretty damn handy with a grill—we’ve got this.
We put our heads together to come up with a pretty epic homage to bacon—bacon infused waffles with a maple bacon reduction topped with bacon mascarpone, bacon dust, and, wait for it, bacon fried chicken. It was a hit. We had one of the longest lines, and while we thought we were supposed to serve around 150 people, we ended up serving upwards of 600 and meeting even more folks than that. The pétillant naturel wine was flowing, and we were able to talk to a whole slew of folks that had never even heard of William Chris.
Our bacon-ized chicken and waffles ended up awarding us Best in Show, and er, Second Place. We were robbed! But seriously, it was such a fun day. We even had a fan call out during the awards how grieved he was that we only came in second, so we rewarded our bacon comrade a leftover industrial sized box of waffle mix. Needless to say, he was bowled over with joy.
These events, and every time we step outside of our winery, remind us that as our company grows and evolves, we must take note from the world around us to draw inspiration and flex our muscles in a different way. Most importantly, we were struck by our fans and their loyalty. We will continue to work hard to support our fans and present them with wines for which we are proud, and an overall experience that is new and interesting.
To check out what we are up to in November, head to our events page.