Messina Hof’s History
The Texas wine industry was born in 1560, when Spaniards brought vines from Europe and planted them in Texas missions. However the growth of the industry slowed over the years until a Texas agricultural group in the 1970s pursued its reinvigoration.
Paul and Merrill Bonarrigo married and settled into a home in Bryan, Texas and together the Bonarrigos would re-introduce the concept of winemaking in Texas. To fully appreciate the story of how Messina Hof began, one might glimpse into locales of Europe for Bonarrigo origins in winemaking.
Tracing centuries back, Messina, Sicily and Hof, Germany are the familial origins of the company founders. With strong roots behind them, the Bonarrigos in 1977 planted their first vineyard in Bryan and named it Messina Hof, incorporating traditions from each ancestry into the wine, food and hospitality service of the winery and resort.
Merrill is the author of a number of cookbooks and she co-authored Vineyard Cuisine™ with husband Paul. Vineyard Cuisine™ chronicles a 30-year journey of wine and food in the Texas wine industry. This is how their story began.
Messina Hof is the most awarded and renowned Texas wine in national and international competitions.
In a community steeped in tradition, Messina Hof Winery & Resort holds its own with a 200-year history of award-winning wines. Although the winery itself was officially established when with the first vintage release in 1983, the rich wine heritage of Winemaker Paul Bonarrigo dates back six generations to Messina, Sicily. Merrill Bonarrigo's family originates from Hof, Germany. Together they have pioneered the Texas wine industry in creating premium wines of distinction and a landmark wine country destination.
With tours, festivals, wine seminars, Vintner Dinners and other specialty events, Messina Hof strives to unite the excellence in wine production with excellence in education and entertainment. Unparalleled wine and food pairing efforts have helped to make choices easy for the casual wine drinker. Messina Hof can also serve as a unique and beautiful location for a private event. Whether the occasion is a wedding, luncheon, meeting, corporate gathering, the amenities abound at Messina Hof.
The tradition of Messina Hof is evident in the Guest Center, where one will encounter a 19th-century estate home, originally built as a convent. The structure now serves as a breathtaking center of family antiques and lovely gift items. The deck and lake behind the winery provide a perfect setting for a relaxing picnic with a vineyard view.
The winery tours and tastings have become a tourism destination for thousands of wine aficionados. The Vintage House Restaurant serves Vineyard Cuisine accented by fresh herbs and vegetables from the estate vineyard garden. Messina Hof wine is used in all marinades and sauces.
The Villa Bed and Breakfast, allows guests full romance and privacy. Each room is uniquely decorated with fine antiques and each stay includes a winery tour, wine tasting, a wine & cheese reception in the evening and a European breakfast served with Champagne.
Paul and Merrill have one son, named Paul Mitchell Bonarrigo (also known as Paul VII), who since his youth worked in the vineyard and studied his father’s winemaking and viniculture traditions. Paul M graduated from the Naval Academy and attained the rank of Captain in the USMC. During his time of service, Paul M married Karen in the gazebo of the Messina Hof.
Sophia Marie, the first grandchild of Paul and Merrill, was born May 29, 2010. She has her own award-winning wine: Sophia Marie Rosé. On July 19, 2012 the second grandchild, Paul Anthony (or Paul VIII) was born.
Today, Paul and Karen work side-by-side at Messina Hof continuing the legacy of world-class wines and hospitality, while also creating new frontiers. In 2012, Paul VII became CEO of Messina Hof Wine Cellars, Inc. and Karen assumed the role of Director of Administration. Since this transition, Messina Hof has moved into new markets, and the brand has also grown from producing only 1,300 gallons to now over 130,000 gallons per year. Messina Hof has locations in Bryan/College Station and Fredericksburg, Texas and hosts a variety of events, including an annual, public Harvest Festival.
Today, their son, Paul Mitchell Bonarrrigo and his wife, Karen, continue the legacy of world-class wines and hospitality with the same founding principles of family, tradition and romance. Messina Hof remains a leader in the Texas wine industry, which now has over 350 registered wineries. The Messina Hof brand has also grown from producing only 1,300 gallons to now over 130,000 gallons per year with three location in Texas: Bryan, Fredericksburg, and Grapevine.