Culture / Travel

Texas’ Own Monster Summer Wine Festival — and the Texas A&M Tradition That Began it All: Your Guide to Messina Hof’s Harvest Fest

BY // 08.03.18

You don’t need to travel thousands of miles to Napa Valley to experience a wine festival. The Lone Star State has one huge summer wine festival in two locations.

After all, everything is bigger in Texas.

Messina Hof’s 41st Annual Harvest Festival is going on right now and continues through August 24. This is your chance to go behind the scenes of a vineyard to learn the winemaking process and its history.

This festival all began with the help of a group of Aggies. Students from Texas A&M University offered to help Messina Hof harvest grapes and make wine. They followed Messina Hof’s customary Sicilian practice of wine making, and created a now 41-year-old tradition in the process.

The most popular regular event of the festival, the Daytime Harvest, takes place on Saturdays from 8 am to 4 pm. Each Daytime Harvest event kicks off with an inside look at the Texas wine industry led by Messina Hof CEO and winemaker Paul Mitchell Bonarrigo.

Get your hands and feet dirty by picking Lenoir grapes and stomping those grapes. The work pays off with a souvenir T-shirt that people “sign” with their drenched purple footprints.

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Tickets to the festival are sold in three levels: the basic harvest pass includes live music, grape harvesting and stomping, a winery tour and wine tastings. The deluxe passes add on a lunch buffet and a wine and food pairing lesson. Passes range from $35 to $80 based on tier.

View all Harvest activities, times and dates on the festival calendar.

When Wine and Kids Mix

Who would’ve ever thought that a wine festival could be a family event? Children are encouraged to attend the Daytime Harvest activities like grape stomping and harvesting. Kids can enter the most unique looking grape cluster they find in the daily Big Kahuna contest.

They even get a taste —don’t worry — of sparkling grape juice.

You have your choice to celebrate at two locations: Messina Hof Estate Winery & Resort in Bryan and Messina Hof Hill Country Winery & Manor Haus in Fredericksburg.

The original location in Bryan — a few minutes from College Station — was founded in 1977 and is estimated to produce about 200,000 gallons of wine this summer. The 10-acre Fredericksburg location — just under two hours from Lake Travis — is the second-largest wine tourism destination in the country.

The evening moonlit harvests, blessing of the vines, murder mystery dinners and themed dinners are selling out quickly, so it may be best to purchase these ASAP if you’re interested. The Grand Finale Gala is already sold out.

Going to Messina Hof’s Annual Harvest Festival is not a “pour” decision. Pack up the car and make a weekend getaway out of it, ending summer with a stomp. Carpe Vinum!

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