As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with wine samples for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, Wander believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.
If you happen to wander into the Bull Lion Ranch tasting room in Glen Rose, Texas when owner Chuck Tordiglione is in the house, have a seat at the bar and order a bottle of his award-winning Texianti wine (a play on the words Texas and chianti). Strike up a conversation with Chuck about the future of winemaking in North Texas, and be prepared to stay for a while—it's a subject he's passionate about.
Bull Lion Ranch and Vineyards is making wine from 100% Texas fruit and much of it is estate grown. The vineyards are located in the Chalk Mountain AVA near Hico, not far from the Glen Rose tasting room. Chuck focuses on growing Italian varietals along with a few others from Bordeaux and Spain.
Italian Influence Is in the Blood
Like many Italian families, Chuck's great-grandparents, Pasquale and Caroline, made wine in their basement. The rocky soil near the Texas vineyards is similar to that in the area around Bonita, Italy, where Chuck has family roots. The family name, Tordiglione, is adapted from Italian—Toro del Leone— which translates to Bull of the Lion.
The family wine recipe was the inspiration for the Bull Lion Ranch Texianti, a Texas-style Chianti. Chuck says his Texianti became an instant success with top local chefs, including Fort Worth favorites Tim Love of Lonesome Dove and Gemelle and Chef John Bonnell of Bonnell's. Chuck attributes much of the success to winemaker Patrick Johnson—also known affectionately as Giovanni—who has been with Bull Lion for seven years.
Bull Lion Ranch wines have won numerous awards. The Malbec, Montepulciano, and Texianti red wine blend all won bronze medals at the 2020 Great American Wine Competition held in New York with more than 900 entries. The Montepulciano and Texianti also won gold medals two years in a row at the Grapevine Grapefest People's Choice Awards. The 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon won a gold medal at the Lone Star International competition.
Where Can You Find Bull Lion Ranch Wines?
Bull Lion Ranch is growing fast. There are now three locations where you can enjoy the wines and a fourth will soon open.
Originally, there was the ranch in Hico, home to the winery's vineyards. Tastings there are on weekends only. Hico is known as the home of Billy the Kid, and there is a small museum there in his honor.
The tasting room in Glen Rose is located on the square inside a building called the White Buffalo Mercantile, which features an art gallery and small boutique in addition to the wine bar. This tasting room is open Thursday to Sunday and there is live entertainment on the weekends.
Texas wine lovers will find a smaller but equally charming tasting room on the square in historic Granbury, the Bull Lion Ranch Wine Shop, and Tordiglione Italian Market. The Italian market offers deli sandwiches, antipasti boards, and desserts. The Granbury tasting room is open Tuesday through Sunday.
And Bull Lion will soon open a third tasting room on Main Street in Grapevine, near the train depot. Grapevine is one of the oldest settlements in North Texas and the Main Street district has many shops and restaurants plus a couple of other tasting rooms. It's also home to the annual Grapefest, a wine and art festival. In each location, wine is available by the glass, flights, or by the bottle.
The Cross Timbers AVA
In addition to managing his tasting rooms and vineyards, Chuck is busy promoting North Texas wines by organizing festivals and competitions. His pet project is the Cross Timbers Wine Trail which is actually three individual trails. In total, there are 45 wineries and vineyards that make up the Cross Timbers Wine Trail. The region spans the area from the Red River on the Oklahoma border, south to Waco, and from I-35 west to Abilene. What makes these wineries unique is that they all make wine from 100% Texas fruit. If Chuck has his way, this area will soon become Texas’ newest AVA.
Though 2020 has been a year of stops and starts for most of us, the Texas wine industry continues to grow, and Bull Lion Ranch and Vineyards is helping to lead the way forward in North Texas. In fact, by the time you read this, Chuck may very well have opened yet another tasting room. Be sure to read more on Wander about what to do across Texas. We also have other suggestions for great wines around the world or across the street.