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A Historic Fort Worth House Becomes A New Wine Bar — Your First Look at Saddlerock Wine + Beer Co.

The Malibu-Based Winery Brings Its Tasting Experience to Texas

BY // 05.16.24

The grand opening of Fort Worth’s newest winery, Saddlerock Wine + Beer Co., was slated to occur in January. But, rehabbing a historic property comes with a unique set of challenges and rewards, like the one purchased by the Malibu-based Saddlerock ― a Victorian mansion overlooking the Trinity River bluff and Coyote Drive-In in the distance.

After a yearlong renovation, Saddlerock Wine + Beer Co. will welcome guests beginning Friday, May 17, just ahead of the busy Memorial Day holiday. At a VIP reveal party held on Wednesday evening, Saddlerock Wine family member Madison Semler tells PaperCity Fort Worth they are thrilled to welcome the community inside.

“The home’s rich history, combined with our dedication to preserving its heritage, will create an ambiance like no other,” Semler told us back in October. “Guests will step into a bygone era while indulging in our yummy estate-grown wines.”

What they’ve achieved is remarkable. The tasteful and thorough restoration of the property including its main house, and carriage house is worth a toast to be sure. And, the attractive additions of the terraced lawn and outdoor tasting room are beyond anything Fort Worth has experienced ― a very California winery feel.

The family-owned vineyard, with its original Saddlerock Winery, and equally lavish tasting room can be found in the mountains above Malibu, California. But, after the devastating Woolsey Fire which swept through the area in 2018, consuming the Semler’s home and everything they had built there over the past 40 years, the family came back to their roots in North Texas. Ron and Lisa Semler now reside on their ranch in Brock, and Madison Semler and her beau Gino Riccardi have also relocated permanently to Tarrant County.

wine bottles Saddlerock Wine + Beer Co.
The full lineup of colorful bottles sparkle in the sunlight at Saddlerock Wine + Beer Co. (Photo by Courtney Dabney)

What About The Wines?

There is a tasting room located inside the main house, as well as at the back of the estate behind the carriage house, where rows of colorful wine bottles sparkle in the sunlight. Choose from a light rosé of Syrah to a bold reserve cabernet sauvignon, and everything in between including Saddlerock’s pinot blanc, grenache, malbec, and its Bordeaux-style King of the Mountain blend.

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I sampled two Saddlerock wines ― a Riesling and the Saddlerock Estate sparkling rosé of Syrah. To my surprise, both were off-dry, with plenty of natural minerality and juicy fruit-forward flavors. But, neither was sweet.

In fact, Lisa Semler, the family matriarch tells us that she doesn’t like sweet wines, so you won’t find any on their wine list. That alone, makes Saddlerock unique among Texas wineries that can lean in that direction. The new winery also has some 14 Texas-sourced beers on tap. So, there is something for everyone ― as long as you are 21 years old or over.

lawn seating games Saddlerock Wine + Beer Co.
The shady front lawn with seating and games at Saddlerock Wine + Beer Co. (Photo by Courtney Dabney)

A Tour Through The Historic Estate

As guests enter the black lacquered front gate, they are welcomed into a lush landscape shaded by mature, manicured oak trees, planted borders, and a turf grass landscaped lawn ― where umbrella-topped tables are mixed with lawn games.

The David Chapman Bennett house was originally built between 1865 and 1870 for Bennett, who was vice president of Fort Worth National Bank. The three-bedroom, two-and-one-half-bathroom main house is about 2,500 square feet and is still filled with original millwork and period details.

Madison’s boyfriend, Gino Riccardi, who is a real estate agent with Briggs Freeman, has been involved in every aspect of the opening ― from general handyman to wine distribution. He showed us around, pointing out the historic photographs of the families who have called it home, many such items, including personal telegrams were found in the attic. They are now framed artifacts decorating the walls.

The property consists of 1.15 acres of unspoiled riverfront and much of that remains natural landscape (filled in with native trees, shrubs, and underbrush). The Semlers have plans to extend a more manicured landscape closer to the river in the coming years, Riccardi says. The main house has its original wood plank flooring, moldings, and many original paned windows, as well as its elegant (and steep) curving staircase, leading to the second level. One of the upstairs rooms will soon become a wine club members’ suite.

Saddlerock carriage house
Upstairs in the transformed carriage house at Saddlerock. (Photo by Courtney Dabney)

Toast To A New Fort Worth Treasure

The former carriage house is located directly behind. A central staircase leads to another room fitted with a wine-tasting table on one side and a comfy lounge on the other. The roofline is lined with its original barn wood ― a time-worn testament still sporting its warm toasted oak tone. There are secluded nooks to explore throughout the property from the front porch to the Adirondacks facing the sunset.

Saddlerock Wine + Beer Co. will host its grand opening event from 4 pm to 10:30 pm on Friday, May 17. Interested guests may RSVP here. Choose a glass or bottle of your favorite wine or sample a wine or beer flight. And, it’s BYOBasket if you’d like to bring along your own picnic. Or you can grab a bite from the food truck on-site.

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