Texas’ first underground winery to open in May in Liberty Hill
By Christine Bolaños
The first underground wine tasting bar and winery in Texas is slated to open mid-May just outside Liberty Hill.
The inspiration came after owner and wine-maker Dan Marek Jr. experienced the concept in California. Thirsty Mule Winery & Vineyard has been in the works for eight years and is coming to fruition this spring.
“We visited several underground tasting bars in California and thought the concept should come to Texas as we are the only underground tasting bar in the state,” he said.
Liberty Hill seemed like the ideal location because of its proximity to Austin.
“We were mainly looking for a high-traveled road with easy access for Austin traffic. Plus we found a property with a 3,000 square foot underground house which was converted into the tasting bar, which also has a cave behind it with windows looking in through the cave,” Marek Jr. explained.
His passion for wine has been an intricate part of his upbringing as well as his business.
“I grew up making wine with my father as a home winemaker. I then started studying the trade and took several classes,” he shared. “I am now the winemaker for three wineries in Texas and also I am an International Wine Judge, which I just returned home (last) week from Rochester, NY, judging the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition.”
Though the winery has not yet opened, the vineyard has been operational since February.
“We have five acres now in Rockdale, Texas, but will be planting more acreage in Liberty Hill at the winery location,” Marek Jr. said.
The winery and vineyard is located on US Highway 183 right outside Liberty Hill at 101 CR 257.
“We will be offering 11 wines when we open, from reds, whites and sweet wines,” he said.
According to the business’ website, www.thirstymule.com, it is situated on eight acres with a running creek through the property.
The tasting bar and banquet room are located underground. There are views inside the cave where the business stores wine barrels.
Tours of the production facility will be held on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays once it opens to the public.
According to the website, wines currently made include Carbernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Grigio, Sweet Pear, Sweet Muscat and Sweet Blush, with more to come.
“This will be a family and pet friendly facility. We seat 100 guests inside and 200 outside,” Marek Jr. said. “We will have live music on Saturdays and Sundays. We will offer tastings, wine by the glass and of course, wine to take home.”
The winery will also offer a private banquet room that seats 50 people for private parties.
“Also we will have a wine club for wine enthusiasts. By the year’s end, we will have a large outdoor stage for concerts and a couple of B&Bs for overnight guests,” he said.
As for the story behind the name, Thirsty Mule Winery & Vineyard, that remains to be heard.
“Well, you will have to come out and experience the property to see why we came about this name,” Marek Jr. said.
For the latest updates, ‘like’ Thirsty Mule Winery & Vineyard on Facebook, or visit www.thirstymule.com.