At J Welch Farms, located about 10 miles from downtown Victoria, Crossroads residents soon will be able to navigate a 12-acre corn maze with buckets of beer, launch apples in an apple cannon, pick zinnias and sunflowers, if the rain ever stops, and ride in a cow train.

They will be able to take hayrides; jump on ground-level, built-in jump pads; mine for gemstones; kick back in front of fire pits; and listen to live bands under a pavilion on Saturday nights, among other activities.

“We were really interested in providing a family-friendly venue where people can get out and about,” said JonAnn Welch, who owns J Welch Farms with her husband, Jackie Welch. “It’s something for people to do. We like agriculture, so this is a good agritainment venture. Kids a lot of times don’t even realize where their food comes from. It’s good to get people out on the farm. It’ll let the kids play and the families relax and have somewhere to go and something to do.”

And those activities are in addition to the products and services already being offered by J Welch Farms.

Right now, Crossroads residents can taste flights of wines and purchase locally made olive oils and balsamic vinegars as well as bottles of wine in the J Welch Farms boutique on Ripple Road in Victoria. Their olive oils and balsamic vinegars also are available at some wineries, specialty gourmet shops and jwelchfarms.com. Wine flights, which include four 1.5-ounce tastings, are $10 each.

In addition to olive oils, balsamic vinegars and wines, the boutique also sells a variety of gift items, beers, gourmet foods, jewelry, soaps and lotions, and they stay busy around the Christmas season putting together gift baskets.

The Welches have been farming corn and cotton row crops for more than 40 years. In 2014, they planted their olive trees on about 120 acres, and in 2017, they began selling their extra-virgin olive oil. They also sell eight flavor-infused olive oils and three balsamic vinegars that are 25-year barrel aged. Depending on the size, the extra virgin olive oil ranges from $8 to $32 per bottle.

More recently, the Welches began purchasing Texas grapes and having wines made in Georgetown. For about a month, they have sold a selection of sweet, white and red wines in their store. Sweet wines include Full Tassel sparkling riesling, Painted Lady sweet red blackberry, Cowgirl sweet white apple/peach and Southern Belle rose strawberry/watermelon. Their white wine is High Cotton sauvignon blanc. Among their six red wines are Joker’s Blend cabernet/malbec blend, Cash Cow petite syrah, High Maintenance bourbon barrel-aged merlot and Poker Face cabernet sauvignon.

Wine enthusiasts can join the J Welch Farms Wine Club, which includes three bottles of wine for $65 per quarter along with a members-only wine “Pick-up Party” with a live band. The first party where the members pick up their three bottles of wine will be hosted in August. Wine club members receive 20% off everything storewide.

Once the initial phase is complete, Phase 2 of J Welch Farms will be the construction of a winery where they will offer a small bistro menu, featured food nights and beer flights in addition to the wine flights.

J Welch Farms also will host field trips, and the corn maze will open to the public Sept. 16. Admission prices will be announced in the future.

“I can’t wait to take my grandkids there in September,” said Tamy Walthall, of Inez, a regular customer. “It will be something new and exciting for the Victoria area and Port Lavaca, so hopefully they will get a lot of turnout.”

Walthall has been a customer of J Welch Farms ever since it started making its olive oils.

“Their olive oil is fresh, and the flavors are delicious,” she said. “I use garlic and caliente jalapeno flavors a lot. The caliente jalapeno has a slight hint of heat to it.”

Walthall also uses the shop’s soaps and lotions, especially the hand balm, which helps to soften her hands after a long day of working on the ranch, she said.

“There is so much to choose from in one little place, from gifts to products they make there. I know when I have a gift that needs to be shipped off, they ship from there, which is great,” Walthall said. “The press is right there, and the trees are just down the road in Placedo. Everyone should try their oils and wines.”

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Elena Anita Watts is the features editor for the Victoria Advocate. She covers faith, arts, culture and entertainment, and she can be reached at 361-580-6585 or ewatts@vicad.com.

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