Parker County Today April 2016 - Page 66

our taste: WINE Brings Award-Winning Texas Wine to Parker County By MELISSA MOORMAN APRIL 2016 PA R K E R C O U N T Y T O D AY T heirs was one of those classic saw-him-across-a-crowded-room, love-at-first-sight meetings. Cindy was only 18 when she saw Ron Mittelstedt across the parking lot on an Army base in Washington State and instantly decided he was the man for her. Now, more than 40 years later, they work together, grow grapes together and are on a mission to expand opportunities for small wineries throughout North Texas, while getting their product to the marketplace. They became vintners when Cindy gave Ron a wine-making kit for Christmas. They made a few bottles at first, sharing their wine with friends. They made some adjustments, made some more wine and then started thinking about a different life for themselves as they neared retirement. Ron owned a construction company prior to opening Sweet Springs. “We wanted a good consistent business that was recession-proof. If things are bad, people drink wine, when things are good, people drink wine,” Ron said. They planted the vineyard on Sweet Springs Road five years ago and a wine business was born in Parker County. Ron met Cindy in Washington State when he was working with former American POWs returning from Vietnam. He said he was one of the last of the draftees in America and through the testing the Army did looking for special gifts, they discov- 64 ered he had a talent for psychology. “You saw things you can’t describe,” he said. He was part of a group of a dozen guys who were trained to help our returning soldiers that had been held captive by the North Vietnamese. “They would take things away and then replace it with something that irritated them. It could be a sound, a color and it would drive them crazy. My job was to deprogram them,” Ron said. He found that he could take that same idea and make it positive when he started in the wine business. “I took a red wine and placed a certain percentage of Concord grape juice in it, something that people were familiar with. It’s familiar to Baptists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Catholics through communion. It worked pretty well. It’s called Divine Temptation,” Ron said. At Sweet Springs Winery, the Mittelstedts grow grapes on their 12.5 acres of farmland northwest of Weatherford as well as on a 155acre tract in Brownfield southwest of Lubbock. One of their white wines is called Parker Peach, celebrating the famed Parker County fruit. They have won awards in Texas and at the national and international level for their wines. The co-op that Ron has put together includes 10 wineries from North Texas that will be banding together to get their wines into grocery stores throughout our area where they have never been available before. The wines would be on the same truck, saving their dollars by distributing together, making it more affordable for all of them. “When it happens it will be ‘Katie, bar the door!’ No one has ever done it in Texas. No one has ever attempted to do it in Texas. When it happens it will be quite great,” he continued. “There’s so much opportunity here in Texas. It’s putting a lot of people to work and creating something totally different that people will enjoy,” he said. The tasting room is a tranquil spot on North Main Street in Weatherford, just a half a block from the courthouse, but it feels like you are a world away when you enter through the rock gates. When you enter it feels like you are a lot closer to Italy than you are to Texas. Comfortable rocking chairs are clustered with cozy tables with seating for 90 if you want to sit outside and enjoy the sunshine. Or there are plenty of seats inside its cool interior with Western décor to taste their delicious wines. A special event area is inside that seats an additional 90 people. They have had showers, rehearsal dinners and meetings in their special events area. They will be celebrating two years in their location this summer, having opened a few days before Peach Festival in 2014. “People love our wines. They love the atmosphere here. Most people when they come here they meet Cindy and I and Beth. They get to know us as people. They tell their friends and it creates a following. When they see it in the stores, they will pick our