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Welcome to Refugio Wine Country

Sept. 1, 2011 at 4:01 a.m.

Zachary Bagnall, 3, reaches up to his dad, Russell, for a handful of grapes to throw in a bucket while the two harvest grapes for the Texas SouthWind Vineyard and Winery at the "Sutton Mott Vineyard" in Victoria. This was the first year the Bagnall's came out to help harvest grapes.  ANGELI WRIGHT/AWRIGHT@VICAD.COM

REFUGIO -Wine connoisseurs in the Crossroads don't have to go too far for a taste of the wine country.

The first winery in the Crossroads is Texas South Wind Vineyard and Winery, which opened about 19 months ago, said Regina Staggs, who owns and operates the winery with her husband David Staggs.

"It actually started from a hobby interest," Staggs said. "We turned the hobby into a commercial interest."

The Staggs spent 2009 learning about harvesting grapes and making wine.

It's a hot June afternoon and the Staggs have gathered friends, family and other volunteers at a vineyard outside Victoria, off Sutton Mott Road.

A group swarms the more than 100 vines, picking grapes and dropping them into hand-held buckets.

Later, they will be processed at Texas South Wind.

"We try to get local grapes, but it's not always possible because Texas is short on grape growers," Staggs said.

The Staggs also travel to Hallettsville, Goliad and Victoria to other grape harvesters. Grapes from across the county are also shipped.

When the Staggs first opened Texas South Wind in December 2009, they only ordered 800 bottles. They learned quickly that wasn't enough, Staggs said.

This year, they will make 12,000.

The reason wine is doing so well is because South Texas has been wanting a winery presence in the area, she said.

"It was exciting being the first one to open the doors," she said smiling.

Texas South Wind has a tasting room and is trying to reach out more to the community through having live bands perform the first Saturday of every month.

They have even opened their winery to hosting private dinners through reservations.

What makes Texas South Wind so special is the Staggs try hard to use grapes from the Crossroads area and Texas.

"It brings the communities together," she said. "People want their grapes in a local winery."

The Staggs look at the Blue Bonnet Trail, which is in the countryside around Burnet and Marble Falls. In that area, there is a strong winery presence.

This is what the Staggs want to see in the Crossroads area.

"Hopefully someday, we can start the South Texas wine trail," she said.



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