Home Industry News Releases William Chris Vineyards, in Collaboration with Master Sommelier Craig Collins, Releases Texas...

William Chris Vineyards, in Collaboration with Master Sommelier Craig Collins, Releases Texas Red Blend Benefitting the Hospitality Industry


Made with 100% Texas Fruit, the Special Wine is Available Online and in Select Retailers Across Texas Now

AUSTIN, TEXAS (April 2020) – Co-owners of William Chris Vineyards, Bill Blackmon and Chris Brundrett, announced the launch of the Wanderer Series Relief Project, featuring a new wine benefitting the Texas hospitality industry created in collaboration with Master Sommelier Craig Collins. The red blend features 95% Cinsault and 5% Mourvedre from the Texas High Plains, and is available now on WCV’s website, as well as from the following retailers in select locations starting this week: H-E-B, Kroger, Twin Liquors, Whole Foods Market, and several independent bottle shops throughout Texas. This wine, priced at $20, was created with a mission of supporting the incredible group of chefs, servers, somms, and bartenders that make up the Texas restaurant community, which has been critically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. All profits from the sales of this wine will go to the Southern Smoke Foundation with the goal of helping this group get back to doing what they love.

“Our industry, our country, and our world is hurting right now, emotionally, physically, and financially,” said Brundrett. “As a company, we’re fighting to stay afloat, and our brothers and sisters in the restaurant space have been some of the hardest hit. We thought, ‘What can we do to make things a little better for our restaurant partners, and give our fans who want to help an easy way to get involved?’ Buying a bottle of this wine for yourself and maybe a couple more for friends and family is a great way to give back to folks who desperately need our help, while enjoying some delicious 100% Texas-grown wine.”

Collins added, “Seeing how our friends and colleagues in the hospitality industry were being affected by this global pandemic compelled us to do anything we could to help. We had to find a way to give back to and support those in the restaurant business who have so often and enthusiastically supported us. Chris and I had been discussing a collaboration, and it made sense that the first release would go towards those who have stood behind us in the past. This Cinsault-based Texas red blend is intended to bring comfort during these uncertain, trying times, and proceeds will go back to those we love.” Of the wine itself, Collins remarked, “This is a playful red that jumps out of the glass with lifted aromatics of raspberry jam and violets. Cranberry and cherry notes are complemented by a savory spice on the palate. Served slightly chilled, this wine is perfect on its own and ideal with grilled meats – try it with Texas BBQ!”

Another remarkable aspect of the project is the abundance of generosity put forward by the industry partners involved. This project would not be possible without the support of Victory Wine Group, who is handling distribution of the wine; design shop Canales & Co. out of Austin, who created the label design; and Fortis Solutions Group, Berlin Glass, Lafitte Cork & Capsule, G3 and Oeneo-DIAM, who all generously donated the respective bottling materials for this project.

In addition to the release of the Wanderer Series Relief Project, WCV is finding every opportunity they can to keep their staff of 64 busy while the tasting room is closed. This has resulted in several new ways for fans to stay engaged with the William Chris experience and team, from weekly virtual tastings and daily online happy hours being hosted on Facebook, to curbside pick-up being offered on site at the winery. By supporting WCV during this time, fans can help ensure that the company will be stable and ready for the brighter days ahead. #WCVSTRONG.

For more information, please visit www.williamchriswines.com, and follow on Facebook and Instagram @WilliamChrisVineyards.


William Chris Vineyards is a leader in producing 100% Texas-grown wine. Since 2008, winegrowers William “Bill” Blackmon and Chris Brundrett have expanded the estate vineyards and partner with family-owned farms to source only the highest quality fruit. At William Chris, they pride themselves on sharing the genuine taste of Texas terroir while delivering a one-of-a-kind experience. Their method integrates farming, tradition, and local culture, and Bill and Chris kept this in mind as they sought out a property to build their winery. Deciding on a pioneer farm settlement in the historic town of Hye, Texas, they began the project to restore the 1905 Deike farmhouse, the future William Chris Tasting Room. William Chris Vineyards is pleased to share a piece of their world and cannot wait to share it with you. For more information, please visit www.williamchriswines.com and follow on Facebook and Instagram @WilliamChrisVineyards.


Master Sommelier Craig Collins first became enamored with wine while working at a Texas winery as an undergrad, an interest that led him to study abroad in Italy during his senior year at Texas A&M. He spent the next 20 years immersed in the beverage industry, from wineries to distribution and importing to restaurants. In 2011, Collins passed the esteemed Master Sommelier Exam, a feat mastered by just 200 people worldwide at that time. He now represents some of the most pedigreed wines from Italy as the Italian Portfolio Manager for VINTUS, one of the premiere import companies in the country. He sits on the Board of Directors for the Court of Master Sommeliers and frequently participates as a speaker and judge at wine and food festivals across the country.


Southern Smoke is a nonprofit 501c3 foundation created to raise funds for charitable purposes, principally for support and assistance for those in the food and beverage community and their suppliers. Chris Shepherd launched Southern Smoke in 2015 after learning his friend and former sommelier Antonio Gianola was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Since then, Southern Smoke has donated $763,000 to the MS Society, making it the largest third-party fundraiser in a five-state area. In 2017, Southern Smoke shifted its focus to provide assistance to people in the food and beverage industry affected by Hurricane Harvey and distributed $501,000 to 139 people in need. Recognizing a need, the Southern Smoke Foundation created an Emergency Relief Fund for people in the food and beverage industry in crisis. To date, Southern Smoke has distributed more than $2.3 million—both directly to people in need via the Emergency Relief Fund and to organizations that represent the needs of people in our industry. As Chris says, Southern Smoke was created to “take care of our own.”

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