The Seventh Generation of Winemakers Living in Texas: Messina Hof Winery and Resort


Originally called Zancle, somewhere around the 8th Century, today Messina, Italy is one of the 3 largest cities on the island of Sicily. Known more for its food than its wine, Hof, Germany is located in the northeastern part of Bavaria. Why am I mentioning so abstractly these two cities? Because they are where we have the origins of Paul and Merrill Bonarrigo of Messina Hof Winery & Resort in Bryan, Texas.

Paul, who’s family is originally from Messina, created with his wife Merrill, Messina Hof in 1977. This was the period where the Texas wine scene started to become active, and Paul and Merrill were a part of that scene. With the discovery of using the Texas root stock to save the European vines from the Phylloxera by T.V. Munson in the late 1800’s, almost a hundred years later we find this new set of pioneers who believed that Texas could also make quality wines.

We met Merrill and Paul in 2002, the days when I was working as the Director of the Wine Institute at the Culinary Institute, Alain & Marie Lenotre in Houston, Texas. For the Grand opening of the short lived wine classes,  I organized an Event which was the first Texas Wine Shoot Out in which they presented their wines with 20 other Texas winemakers. The O.K. Corral-style shoot out was between wines from France and those of Texas. Here the participants got to taste and vote on the wines they preferred.  That was a lot of fun.

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