Editor's Note: The following article appeared two weeks ago in the Brady Standard-Herald. Mason's own Sandstone Winery, along with Santos Taqueria, traveled to Brady for the "Pigskin Pairing" event where Santos won the People's Choice restaurant award.
Folks in and around Central Texas know Alphonse Dotson. But these days, it’s not because he used to play professional football, but rather because he grows quality grapes in his Voca vineyard.
The former Oakland Raider has lived in Voca for many years where he and his wife, Martha, have worked the land shoulder to shoulder, and have become known as some of Texas wine’s biggest champions.
No longer a brute on the field, he instead is one of the biggest cheerleaders for promoting what has become one of the state’s leading industries—wine.
The Dotsons’ 30-acre vineyard has four types of grape varieties grown on the property. Chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, merlot and muscat canelli grape vines are all mature and produce fruit year in and year out—as long as Mother Nature doesn’t interfere.
“The past five or six years haven’t been easy,” says the soft-spoken, gentle giant whose signature smile can light up a room. Some of his business acquaintances speak of how they would have given up long ago.
“I have been tempered and forged over the years and I don’t give up easily,” he said. “I know things are going to turn around.”
The decision to make their own wine came as a unique opportunity to become a winery within a winery. Since moving to the area, the Dotsons have grown grapes and sold them to wineries around the state. In recent years, Fall Creek Winery in Tow has purchased their grapes to use in their annual wine production.
But as time passed, Alphonse and Martha began to get the urge to put their own names on a bottle.
Due to their close and longtime relationship with Fall Creek Vineyards, an offer came up that provided the Dotsons the opportunity to create their own wine. But little did they know the frustrating challenges they would face.
From state and federal permitting, to labels getting lost in transit, to problems at the bottling plant, the usual 3-4 month process drug out for almost a year. On Monday night, all the hard work will pay off when their new product is officially introduced to the public.
The fruits of their labor—literally—will be unveiled Monday night at the Pigskin Pairing when they introduce their first-ever signature label wine.
In honor of his Oakland Raider family and friends and their support, the wine became a personal labor of love “dedicated to all the outlaws.”
Since the idea first started, several of his friends and associates from his years in the National Football League have helped in some way, shape or form that has led to the finished product. The wine is the first of what the Dotsons hope will be the first of many surprises to the average consumer.
Under the name of Dotson~Cervantes, the wine is named Gotas de Oro which translates to “Drops of Gold.” It’s a white wine made predominantly with muscat fruit with a variety of whites blended for complexity and flavor.
Dotson touts the wine as “a fun wine for all times” saying it is designed to pair well with everything from Texas barbecue to latin and Mexican dishes.
“This is not just a dessert wine,” he states. “I was looking to hit a style that falls somewhere between a French and a Northern California style in the $45-76 price range. What we accomplished is a bottle that retails in the mid $20s.”
Traditional dessert wines are of the sweeter variety and are usually sold in smaller 375 ml bottles. With this his first-ever vintage, they packaged the wine in 500 ml bottles to give the consumer more value.
An art major in college, Alphonse has personally developed everything about this wine from the design of the label to the flavor of the wine.
“I listened to Ed Auler, the owner and wine maker at Fall Creek, and several of my industry friends and acquaintances and made this wine my own,” he said. “It is a wine that is a 360° turn from what folks are used to. It’s got a tingle on the tongue, a floral bouquet like Martha likes and fruit that lingers.”
He even kept the surprise of tasting the wine from Martha until only a few weeks ago.
There are only 850 cases of this first production which is a 2008 vintage of muscat and mystery whites.
Together, the husband and wife team tend to the daily chores associated with owning a vineyard. She can drive a truck, run a tiller and work side-by-side with the best of them.
As the first cases are distributed, they are already looking forward with anticipation to next year when they can again, reveal a surprise grown and produced right here in Central Texas.