Red Caboose Winery Review
Address: 1147 County Road 1110 Meridian,Texas 76665.
Phone Number: 254-435-9911
Tasting Hours: Fri 12:00-5:00, Sat 10:00-6:00
Reviewer: Becky Parr
Review Date: 7/9/2016
Reviewer: Becky Parr
When you enjoy visiting wineries, you meet a lot of other people who enjoy visiting wineries. You get to recognize the regulars at a particular winery they usually know just what they want and go straight to their favorite spot. Often the bartenders call them by name, and theyll strike up conversations with newbies like me and share their feelings about the winery and what they like best. Then there are other traveling winery visitors like me, who talk about their travels, the other wineries theyve visited, and what they like and dont like. Im one of them always happy to do the if you like this one, youll love this one thing.
At Red Caboose Winery we met another couple who claimed theyd been to approximately 80 Texas wineries. OK, 80 is a lot! Texas has 280 wineries as of this writing, so yes, its certainly possible to visit 80 Texas wineries (although it would take me a long time). At any rate, this couple assessed Red Caboose Winery as being one of the top 4 or 5 wineries in the state. Out of 280, thats saying a lot!
After visiting and tasting the wine, I dont agree with the top 4 or 5 ranking, but maybe the top 15-20%. It certainly has some high points.
The first impression was NOT one of the high points. We found the place okay, although GPS thinks its a bit further down the road than it is, and the red cabooses on the gate are a nice touch. Who doesnt love a red caboose as a branding tool? There was ample parking and a very cute tasting area, although we thought it was a little small. There was no one behind the counter, but we heard voices in the back, so I snapped a few photos, and we waited.
And we waited.
And we waited.
Finally, since we could still hear voices in the bowels of the building, we decided to follow them. We called hello and went toward the sound. Lo and behold, there was another tasting counter (not as cute it looked a bit more makeshift than the front counter, which included gift shop displays), a person behind it, a totally cute dog, and a group of about six people! We never quite figured out if wed come in the wrong door, or what. At any rate, if the formal-looking tasting counter isnt the real one, there should be a sign directing you to the back, or a bell to ring, or something. Its not a good start when your guests feel lost and foolish, right out of the gate.
Fortunately, the experience got better. The good-looking dog was Buddy, the resident winery border collie (dont feed him, hes on a special diet), and he was very happy to see us. The woman behind the tasting counter was Deborah, who is there every Saturday, and she set us up with 6 tastes for $10. Red Caboose has a lot of wines on the menu; our two 6-taste flights didnt cover them all. Still, between the two of us, we tasted almost everything we wanted to taste.
I wasnt terribly impressed with the whites. The chardonnay was effervescent and a bit sweet; not at all like a traditional chardonnay. Its nose wasnt pleasant either (my notes say it smelled like the zoo). The viognier was fairly tart again, not too much like the viogniers I enjoy.
Red Cabooses specialty, though, seems to be red wine fitting, given the name of the place. Several are quite good. I noted that the 80-winery patrons were drinking red, so if they are red aficionados, I can see why they like Red Caboose as much as they do. The highlights: malbec, La Reina tempranillo (look out for this one, its nice and smooth, but 15% alcohol!), Range Rider tempranillo blend, and Touriga Nacional, from which they make their port-style wine. The prize for best name goes to the Quick Draw Syrah, which was also pretty good (lighter, with a very short finish). The port-style, catchily named Some of that Red, is also really good. My husband is a big port-style fan, so we brought that home with us, along with some Range Rider for me. The Range Rider, alas, has been drunk by now, and I wish I had some more!
According to Deborah, there actually is a red caboose, where the owners of the winery lived while they were building and setting up the winery. Theyve since moved out, but we all agreed that the caboose would make an awesome B&B type lodging facility. How cool would it be to stay in a caboose?
Speaking of Deborah, she was by herself at the tasting counter, and she was spread a little thin in taking care of the number of people who were visiting. We had some time to chat with her from time to time, but she seemed to be a bit in the weeds. She mentioned that the winerys owner, Gary, is an architect, and theyre developing a new tasting room. He also designed the gorilla exhibit at the Dallas Zoo, so thats a fun bit of trivia!
Gary came through at one point and talked to our neighbors, although he didnt interact with us. He did what owners do ask what they were drinking, where they were from, etc. It disappointed me that he didnt linger longer and perhaps help Deborah out with the pouring, seeing that she had a number of people to take care of. I felt like he could have given her a hand, or perhaps sent one of the other voices from the production area to do so.
One of the most appealing aspects of Red Caboose is its large patio area. I could certainly see a great concert out there with some good red wine on a cool evening, with Buddy running about looking for table scraps (but dont feed him, hes on a special diet!). It would be a good place for an informal event.
Overall, there were ups and downs, but this is worth a visit and now you know what to do if you go in the wrong door!