Some may ask about how this Rustic Spur dream came to fruition. Well I guess you could say its’ beginnings were in 1984 when Jim & Ranae married. They both had been raised with a keen awareness of respecting things like: the land, it’s bounty, honest and hard work, and achieving life goals. Over time Jim and Ranae have been honored to receive awards, recognitions and accolades, but they all pale in comparison to the pride they have in raising two of the finest young ladies in Texas. As the youngest was preparing to graduate from high school, the thoughts of having an empty nest grew. They began searching for their next adventure and discussed a dormant dream Ranae had from the late 70’s. Jim & Ranae each had farm and ranch family heritage and a desire to honor that. When Ranae was a teenager she asked her dad, who had spent his lifetime raising cotton, sorghum and sunflowers if he would ever think of planting wine grapes as some were starting to do in the Texas High Plains. His answer was no for a couple of reasons: 1) he did not know how to grow wine grapes 2) he did not care for the taste of wine. With that answer, Ranae’s dream of growing wine grapes did not die, it simply laid dormant for the next thirty years. They began their search for farmland in the Texas hill country near Fredericksburg to begin this adventure they affectionately refer to as their “mid-life” crisis. A parcel of land was purchased that was formerly a peach orchard near Stonewall. In 2013 they planted their first three varietals of wine grapes: Tannat, Souzão and Sémillon. Their first intention was to simply grow and sell some of the finest wine grapes in Texas. At the same time the young grape vines were maturing and growing so was their dream to begin to make and to bottle some of their own wine. Sherah, their youngest daughter, was working on an Agriculture degree and decided that she would like to pursue this passion as well. She completed her undergraduate and master’s degree in Viticulture and Enology. Sherah spends many hours in the vineyard with a watchful eye and they are grateful! Their oldest daughter, Leah and husband Micah, have busy careers and are raising their son Caden.
They have beside them from the beginning, helping to prepare the land, followed by the planting of the vines in 2013 and finally, harvest! Leah and Micah have played such an important role in our vineyard reality even from miles away. They thank all who have helped with the success of this family venture. It was Sherah’s love of horses that led them to the name Rustic Spur. One of her cherished possessions is an 85-year-old saddle owned by her great grandpa, “Pawpa Moyer” when he was a ranch cowboy out in Eastern New Mexico. Also passed down to her, a set of spurs from “Pawpa Moyer”, ”Gramps“ and Great Great “Uncle Aubrey”.
These rustic relics remind us of the hard work, sweat and toil of a humble family trying to eke out a simple living from farming and ranching. We honor the memory of these rustic cowboys of yesterday that formed the genealogy of Rustic Spur. We honor the contributions of Jim and Ranae’s dads, grandpas, and uncles who have made farming a way of life in the High Plains of Texas.
John Rivenburgh has deep roots in Texas, as a fifth generation Texan. He grew up in San Antonio, were he was active in sports, pursued a love of art, built things with his hands, learned to dance elegantly, and developed a wide circle of friends.
He started his professional life in construction, and still relies on those skills and experiences, whether he is designing a tasting room or contemplating the structure and foundation of a particular wine.
He was one of the founders of Bending Branch Winery, where he championed sustainable and organic practices as an award-winning Texas winemaker, and “keep it simple” as his guiding winemaking principle.
John knows the Hill Country’s unforgiving landscape and the state’s relatively young commercial winemaking industry better than just about anyone does. At a time when Texas winemakers were literally building their own equipment because it was not regionally available and too costly to ship from California, John was carving out a name for himself as a pioneer in marrying technology and Old World technique in Texas oenology. His efforts to discover a Texas style—as opposed to imposing an identity on the region by growing more market-friendly varietals—have introduced Tannat, Sagrantino, Souzao, Charbono, and Picpoul Blanc to our local viticulture vernacular. Crusaders eager to raise the profile of Texas wine owe this diversity to his daring and expert cultivation.
After almost 10 years at Bending Branch Winery, John struck out in February of 2016 to pursue his own venture. As a consultant, he educates other passionate Hill Country growers in his celebrated methods, establishing more acres poised to produce Real Texas wine.
In 2016, he also launched Rivenburgh Wine, a boutique line of limited release, well-crafted wines using varietals suited to the Texas landscape that produce an elegant, balanced tasting experience.
Bill was born and raised in agriculture. After a couple of decades cultivating a love for great wine, he and his wife, Gail, purchased land on the Texas High Plains in order to grow the highest-quality grapes in the state. The first vines were lovingly planted in 2011 and the nurturing began.
What you may not know is that grapes need to struggle to produce the highest-quality fruit. Without struggle, grapes produce weak, flabby wine. Little did we know we picked the best spot in Texas for our vineyard. Seven years later—after severe drought, devastation by wild animals, record-breaking late freezes, and a massive hail storm—you’re now holding in your hands wine produced from grapes that struggled mightily and triumphed.
Just like the early settlers in Texas who fought Indians and invading Mexican armies, we battled some of the worst weather in recorded history. And like the true Texas spirit of this land, we persevered to produce award-winning fruit. Join us in celebrating Texas wine and the spirit of Texas that resolutely overcomes all obstacles.
1851 Vineyards, an up and coming winery in the Texas Hill Country, is located on Highway 16 in Fredericksburg, Texas. Carl Hilmar Guenther started building Pioneer Flour Mills on the property in 1851, only to relocate later in downtown San Antonio, after floods washed away his mill. While the mill, once located on the edge of the Live Oak Creek no longer exists, the original barn, main house, guest house, and smokehouse built on the heart of the property still remain today and serve as a Texas Historical Landmark.
In 1964 the land was acquired by Van Chester and Peggye Pagel Brown. Van and Peggye, while raising their three children, used the land primarily for farming until the late 1990’s. During this time Peggye became interested in wine making and crafted the first family produced wines. After their death, the land was divided between the three children and Dabs Brown Hollimon inherited the current vineyard land. John Hollimon, being guided by his daughters saw the vineyard vision and knew his wife would help to make it happen. In 2013, the family quickly began work combining the spirit of the barn, the farming done by the Browns, and the emerging Texas wine market, to start a vineyard on the property. In 2016 both the vineyard and the winery began official production.
1851 Vineyards was started by John and Dabs Brown Hollimon but could not have come this far without the support of their family, old friends, and the many new friends met along the way. In April 2013, the first vines were planted, and more have been added each year. The current 16 planted acres include Cabernet, Tannat, Malbec, Petite Sirah, Tempranillo, and Alvarinho. The family strives to use sustainable farming practices to produce the highest quality grapes for wine making.
Dabs (formerly Dabs Brown) and John Hollimon are proud products of the hill country and have long backgrounds in farming and ranching. Dabs, who spent much of her childhood in Harper on a ranch, moved to the farm in Fredericksburg during high school. John, growing up in Kerrville, helped out on local ranches and farms to supplement his love for playing and coaching baseball. John and Dabs both received their Masters degrees in education and have spent much of their careers as public servants in the school system in San Antonio. Very much excited to be back in the hill country, they are starting new careers in their “retirement”. True patrons to continuous learning, they are learning as they take on new endeavors as entrepreneurs, wine makers, and viticulturists. A truly unique path for this truly unique family! John and Dabs receive much labor and comic relief at the farm from their children Jeska (married to Joshua), Julie, and twins Jordan and Drew (married to Kristen). John earned his Viticulture Certificate from Texas Tech Univeristy and is in charge of the vineyard operations while Dabs earned her Winemaking Certificate and helps lead the winemaking process for 1851 with John Rivenburgh. Dabs is often found in the tasting room explaining the winemaking process while John is often found in the tasting room demonstrating the wine drinking process.