Heath Family Wines: Crafting Excellence Across Collections

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Heath Family Wines is not a single winery, but a collection of different wineries under one umbrella brand. This wine consortium includes Grape Creek Vineyards, Heath Sparkling Wines, Invention Vineyards, and Jenblossom Cellars, each contributing to a diverse range of wines.



Grape Creek Vineyards and tasting view. Photo courtesy of Heath Family Brands
Grape Creek Vineyards and tasting view. Photo courtesy of Heath Family Brands



The people behind Heath Family Wines, Brian, and Jennifer Heath, first started with Grape Creek Vineyards, the first winery on Highway 290, in Fredericksburg, Texas in 2006. They have planted estate vineyards, expanded and developed state-of-the-art winemaking facilities, and created an exceptional visitor experience at their “Tuscan-inspired” tasting room, which was rebuilt from the Italian-inspired villa of the original owner.


It was a second career for Brian, who then lived in Dallas and had a career first in engineering and then as president of the US Advisory Group with Ameriprise Financial. The couple decided to make a life choice and bought Grape Creek Vineyards, their first winery. Brian serves as the CEO and his wife, Jennifer, is over strategic planning and communications.


He told me the winery was an opportunity to take the best of his corporate knowledge and combine it with something creative. When he first acquired the property, it was an Angus cattle farm and a winery making 2,000 cases a year. Fast forward to 2024 and the company has five locations, five brands and 150 employees.


In 2003, Texas opened its market to direct-to-consumer shipments of wine that had previously been banned and that’s when the growth began. It was a game changer for the winery and eventually, they increased their production to 80,000 cases a year and now ship to 46 of the 50 states.


The Wineries


Grape Creek Vineyards


Grape Creek Vineyards is one of the largest and oldest wineries in Texas. Grape Creek Vineyards was established in Fredericksburg in 1983 by Ned Simes. He worked in oil and gas and also raised Angus cattle on the ranch. The Heath’s acquired it in 2006, expanded it, and put a now well-recognized belltower at the entrance. They formed a partnership with Stout’s Signature, a well-known restaurant, and turned it into a hospitality destination.



Heath Family Wines: Crafting Excellence Across Collections
Heath Sparkling Wines, Photo Courtesy of Heath Family Brands



Heath Sparkling Vineyards


Heath Sparkling Wines is the first winery in Texas dedicated to sparkling wine. It is made in the methode champenoise style and it’s made using grapes from Grape Creek Vineyards.



Invention Vineyards Tasting Room, Photo Courtesy of Heath Family Brands



Invention Vineyards


Carl Hilmar Guenther originally established Pioneer Family Mills in 1851 and grew into one of the largest food processing companies in the nation. The original Guenther Mill stood on the Invention Vineyards property, among where the vineyards are today, and the historic stone buildings near the entry were part of the family mill.


Formerly known as Slate Mill Wine Collective, which is about 20 minutes south of Grape Creek, the Heath’s invested in overhauling the tasting room, the creation of member patios, and replanting and rejuvenation 17 acres of vineyards. Invention Vineyards also boasts a state-of-the-art, fully operational winery on-site. Brian described it as “industrial chic”, a very different image than the Italian approach at Grape Creek.


The winery also has some California ties.


Paso Robles


Brian bought a vineyard in the Willow Creek District of Paso Robles, California, in 2014. The property was growing grapes for wines that were consistently winning awards. While it is technically an estate vineyard, even though wines are 100 percent grown in the vineyard, the wine is made in Texas, so that designation can’t be used.


He told me a great story about having a driver in Paso Robles who had access to a private vineyard that was looking to sell. The owner was sitting in his living room and they made him an offer the same day. Two weeks later, they owned the vineyard.


Napa Valley


Jenblossum Cellars Collection


This collection includes ultra-premium Cabernets and Pinot Noir that are sourced from growers in Napa Valley including Howell Mountain, Yountville, and Rutherford, but the wine is made in in Texas.  The butterfly on the label was initially drawn by his daughter.



Brian talked about creating a portfolio with options for people with different palates focused on giving people personalized customer experiences. They drew inspiration from their travels to different wine regions and he’s always intrigued how different wineries do innovative things to enhance the experience of wine. He told me it was a surprise how many people joined multiple clubs. Today Heath Family Vineyards has three tasting rooms on vineyards and two urban tasting rooms in Fredericksburg and Georgetown.



The Winemaker


Jason Englert has been with Grape Creek Vineyards since 2004, helping the wine program grow from 2,000 cases to 80,000 cases produced. Jason serves in a managing director-type role where he oversees all the properties with a team of eight including assistant winemakers, oenologists, and cellar staff allocated to the individual locations. Prior to joining Grape Creek, Jason spent 8 years as the assistant winemaker for Llano Estacado Winery in Lubbock. Jason and his team utilize both advanced and traditional wine-making practices. Brian told me he is also the most decorated winemaker in Texas.


The Wines



Heath Family Wines: Crafting Excellence Across Collections
Our Heath Family Wine Assortment



Here is the line-up of wines and I enjoyed them all very much. It was fun to see such stylistic differences in each brand.


2021 Grape Creek Rendezvous— this is made in a Rhone blend style with 100 percent Texas fruit – 44.9 percent Mourvèdre, 42.6 percent Cinsault and 12.5 percent Syrah. I tasted notes of ripe red fruit like raspberry cherry and pomegranate with lavender,


2021 Invention Vineyards Soleluce – the name translates into “sunlight”, and it is a blend of Sangiovese and Malbec. It was a lush wine with cherry, cassis, current and herbal notes.


2022 Heath Sparkling Adoration – this was a great sparkling pinot noir.  It was very floral with notes of pomegranate, brioche and plum.


The company also is laser-focused on its wine club members. Virtually all Health Family wines are sold direct to consumer, so the user experience is paramount. Club members get exclusive access to all the wines, patios, lounges, and restaurant.


Brian told me that Heath Family Vineyards used to have a tagline, “Wine is a pleasure, not a party.” You won’t find dogs or people under 21 and you’ll likely be sitting next to people in search of a wine experience.


We talked a little about the Texas wine industry and the sustainability in the vineyards. He talked about some of the pest and foliage difficulties. They operate under California sustainable standards and one vineyard manager is currently working with a Dutch company to figure out ways to improve.


As we were getting off our call, he talked about his next meeting being a blending trial where 8-9 people cross reference on palates. He described his palate as knowing what will sell and Jason’s is more about balance and aging. They work well together to determine the finished product.


We talked about the future. Brian is a pragmatist, “I see this through the lens of a free-market capitalist until we can figure out a way to control Texas weather.” He also predicted the rise of Viognier in Texas. He talked about parallels between his corporate experience and the growth of the portfolio. “I’m a growth person, he said. “We have 150 people and a great culture. I want to maintain that growth while taking care of the land and our people.” And three of those employees are family – his wife, oldest daughter, and her husband.


We ended up talking about what’s next for Heath Family Vineyards. While he would like to expand both in California and Texas, the business and political climate make it a tough place for growth. He remains committed to continuing to have a path of expansion and growing the brand.


Heath Family Wines shows the power of merging corporate knowledge with a passion for crafting exceptional wines and delivering unparalleled customer experiences. Spearheaded by Brian and Jennifer Heath, this endeavor has included innovative expansions into sparkling wines, historic vineyard revitalization, and ventures in California’s wine regions.



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