location is everything...
Robert Clay Vineyards is located in heart of Texas in the Texas Hill Country AVA right between Streeter and Double Knobbs, Texas placing us in the midst of three of Texas' distinct physio-graphic sections. This location on the northwestern edge of the Llano Uplift (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Llano_Uplift), in close proximity to the Osage Plains (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osage_Plains) to the north and the Edwards Plateau (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edwards_Plateau) to the west, this generates a unique micro-climate more suited to grape production than other parts of the Texas Hill Country. Relative humidity compared to surrounding areas is low, rainfall averages twenty inches per year and severe weather such as hail and flooding are rare occurrences. Southeastern breezes are almost continuous throughout the growing season.
The vineyards lie between Double Knobbs and Streeter at an elevation of 1,780 feet above sea level and surrounded by rolling hills. The original plantings of Merlot, Touriga Nacional, Ruby Cabernet, Viogner, and Chardonnay were planted in 1996 making them the oldest vines in Mason County and some of the oldest in the Texas Hill Country. The Merlot & Touriga Nacional blocks are planted on a west facing slopes and theChardonnay, Viognier, and Ruby Cabernet are planted at the highest points on the vineyard. The vineyards are planted across a wide variety of soil types giving our wines a unique characteristics that can only be found near Double Knobbs that come from blend of fine sandy loam, loamy sand, flaggy clay, clay, and deep, rich, sandy loam soils from various forms of Hickory sand, a sand which is unique to the Hickory sandstone outcrop region of Mason and McCullough counties. Soil pH ranges from 6.8 to 7.2 with the majority of our acreage being close to 7.0.
To the north is DOUBLE KNOBBS, TEXAS. Its is on State Highway 29 some eight miles northwest of Mason in western Mason County. It was named for two nearby hills which lie on either side of the highway. The area was settled around 1890, when the Dodd and the Clark families arrived. The community's early development was focused around the establishment of a local school. Most of the area residents were farmers and ranchers. In the 1900s the local agricultural focus changed from cotton to peanut farming. The community's school was eventually closed. In the mid-1980s Double Knobbs was a dispersed farming community.
To the south is STREETER, TEXAS. Its between Big and Little Bluff creeks just north of U.S. Highway 377 and nine miles west of Mason in western Mason County. Around 1855 Irish settlers, including William S. "Uncle Billy" Gamel and the Caveness brothers, began moving to the area. Shortly thereafter, Germans also began to settle in the community. The earliest families settled along Big and Little Bluff creeks and nearby Honey Creek, so the community was called both Bluff Creek Community and Honey Creek Community. Early settlers suffered from Indian raids, but these ceased as the county became more firmly established. Early camp meetings were held near Streeter between 1860 and 1890, and in 1870 a Baptist church was organized. Dean Martin and Tom Brite opened early stores, and Charles Brite once operated a gin and flour mill. The name Streeter was applied to the community when a post office was established on September 5, 1890. It is believed that Joseph A. Black, the first postmaster, named the town after an early settler, Samuel T. Streeter. The first school in the area was on Honey Creek; there was not a school in Streeter itself until 1900. In August 1903 Streeter was temporarily quarantined for smallpox by the county health authorities. Telephone service was established in the area by 1914. As of 1939 Streeter had several stores, a garage, and a school, and by 1947 also a church and filling station. The post office was discontinued in 1970. The estimated population from 1925 to 1962 was 100. This figure dropped to sixty by 1964 but rose again in 1974 to 200, where it held steady through 1990. In 2000 the population dropped to 100.
a vineyard was born...
Robert Clay vineyards was planted in 1996 by Paul and Nancy Buist in the tiny community of Streeter, Texas in Mason County. The first in Texas to grow Touriga Nacional commercially. Cultivating a wine grape variety that has no history in a new environment requires a bit of innocent naiveté, a calm understanding of self, and a complete disregard for punditry. Then, the magic can happen.
In our vineyards, everything is done by hand. Our fingerprints are on every cluster of grapes. This method of farming offers our vines and wines a level of care few others experience. Nature’s rhythms are delicate, so we farm with a light hand.
Robert Clay Vineyards is a quality driven vineyard and winery. In the vineyard we go above and beyond to do what is best for the vine and the land using the most organic and sustainable practices possible. It is with tremendous patience and fortitude that we care for each and every vine. It’s our passion for the vine, attention to detail, and minimal intervention throughout the entire process that provides for the highest quality fruit for each vintage. Albeit saying “growing an organic vineyard in Texas is impossible”, we were successful in using only organic practices last year and will continue to fight the notion that it can't be done working towards using only these practices in the future.
Cutting back the vines was a big decision that paid off handsomely. In 2012 the vineyard only Produced 3 tons of fruit, in 2018 the vineyard yielded 47 tons. The varietals that we are cultivating are Ruby Cabernet, Syrah, Viognier, Grenache, Mourvedre, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, Chardonnay, Barbera, Merlot, and Touriga Nacional.
Year by year we’re learning and growing with the vineyard.