Discovering Texas Wines
Enoch's Stomp Vineyard and Winery
Enoch's Stomp Vineyard's Altus KoegelenbergWine and Fishes
Altus Koegelenberg is from South Africa where his family has been grape farmers for five generations. Yet, when he and his wife, Carin, came to America his plan was to give up farming and concentrate on raising the kids while she pursued her physical therapy career.
As the Koegelenbergs settled into their new home in the East Texas Piney Woods, Altus began to notice how similar the climate and growing conditions were to back home in Capetown. There were even a few vineyards dotting the landscape. As the old saying goes, you can take the boy out of the farm, but you can't take the farm out of the boy. Altus was soon itching to get his hands back in the soil. And then he met Jon Kral.
Kral, a doctor, has a passion for saltwater fishing. And ministry. His dream was to someday combine both somewhere around his native Washington state. The idea was to create a spiritual retreat center where he could share his faith and love of fishing with others.
After meeting in church, Koegelenberg and Kral decided they could combine their goals and open a winery/retreat center right where they were. Thus were the beginnings of Enoch's Stomp in Harleton. Altus would grow the grapes and Jon, with his background in chemistry, would make the wine.
According to Genesis, Enoch walked with God and then was no more. That's the thought behind the winery's unusual name. If Enoch walked with God, why couldn't he stomp grapes with God?
The two partners began looking for land with the plan to create a spiritual retreat where individuals and groups could get away from the city and spend some time in a natural setting. Wine replaced fishing and in 2004 Koeglenberg and Kral began turning an 89-acre horse ranch into their winery/retreat center.
"It was all just pastureland when they started," explains Events Coordinator and spokesperson Jenny Hubbard. "They bought the property and reshaped some of the ponds and they cultivated the land to make it a nice, grassy area along the hills. It was just raw horse land when they started. There was the beginning of a log house on the property but that was about it."
Enoch's Stomp Vineyard and Winery WinesThe vineyard was started in 2005 with grapes from around the world, but mostly varietals that could stand up to the Pierce's Disease that plagues Texas grape growers. Koegelenberg personally oversaw the planting of 11 acres of Blanc Du Bois, Tempranillo, Norton and Lenoir grapes. Kral is turning those grapes into a number of different wines, including a newly added port.
"Blanc Du Bois makes a nice dry to semisweet wine similar to Riesling," says Kral, the winemaker for Enoch's Stomp. "Lenoir can be finished in many ways. We use it to make a blush and a port. Norton is our dry red wine. We dabble with a few other grapes including Chamborcin, Champanel, Villard Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and others."
The Blanc Du Bois, the winery's signature white wine, is available in three varieties: dry, off-dry and sweet. Kral is also producing a Chardonnay-like Villard Blanc. The '06 Blanc Du Bois won two bronzes, two silvers and a gold medal at wine competitions around the country in 2007.
The selection of reds includes the 2007 Norton, described as the Cabernet of the east, Sweet Lenoir, two dessert-style ports, Ellen's Song and Ellen's Sweet Song, Potter's Hand, a sweet, dessert wine, and a 2006 Merlot made from grapes sourced in California's Napa Valley.
With 15 weddings in 12 months, Enoch's Stomp is also earning a reputation for its lush setting. The conference center can accommodate up to ten overnight guests. A number Hubbard would like to see increase.
"We certainly have room to grow and we'd like to see both the winery and the retreat get a little bigger. We haven't actually come up with a number as far as how many guests we'd like to accommodate or how many cases of wine we'd like to produce, but we'd like to grow both of those a little."
Hubbard is quick to point out wine is the main product at Enoch's, where capacity is currently 2,000 cases a year from a crop of about 70 tons of grapes.
"The retreat and conference center are part of the winery. We're first, and foremost, a winery. That's our main business. The setting is so beautiful and peaceful that it makes for a good place to come and relax, but we're a working winery. That's our real business."
A surprising business for two men who just wanted to raise their kids and do a little fishing.
Rosemary Grilled Swordfish
Stir together the lemon juice, olive oil, and remaining rosemary in a small bowl and set aside.
Preheat grill for medium heat.
Transfer fish to a paper towel-lined dish, and discard marinade. Lightly oil grill grate to prevent sticking. Grill fish 10 minutes, turning once, or until fish can be easily flaked with a fork. Remove fish to a serving plate. Spoon lemon sauce over the fish, and top each fillet with a slice of lemon for garnish.
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