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After 30 Years, Inwood Estates Vineyards has Perfected Winemaking

By Marina Jokic

The history of Inwood Estates begins with Dan Gatlin, who grew up in the retail beverage trade, which would prove to be formative in his burgeoning passion for the wine industry. His family owned and operated the Hasty chain of wine, spirits and convenience stores in Dallas, and his father Vernon Gatlin rose from a poor Depression-era background after Prohibition.

After serving in WWII, Vernon returned to Dallas, continuing on to establish himself as a prominent businessman by building up the A&A Company to 28 stores, Hasty to 15 convenience and 11 wine and spirit stores. Vernon Gatlin and his wife died in the early 1980s.

Spencer Gatlin takes us back to the beginnings of the vineyard when Dan Gatlin developed his skills as a professional wine buyer and eventually vice-president of the company. When the Hasty chain was sold, Dan turned his interest to vineyard research. His rapport early on with the California wine production allowed him to directly witness the inception of that industry.

Additionally, his time spent in France and California and conversations with experts in the field inspired him to plant his first vineyard in North Texas in 1981. "Many trials and many errors later, Dan has grown over 44 different grape varietals and planted 8 vineyards," says Spencer.

As Dan's passion for French varietals deepened, he also discovered and successfully started planting Tempranillo and Palomino, two Spanish varietals that thrive in the Texan climate. While his focus shifted toward Spanish varietals, he never abandoned producing traditional French varietals. Inwood's Tempranillo-Cabernet and their Palomino-Chardonnay blends were a game changer for the Texas wine industry in terms of quality, entering the market at a price point almost double that of other Texas wines.

"We quickly were accepted by the sommelier community and found ourselves placed in the top restaurants all over the state," says Spencer. Inwood Estates also experiments with low-yielding vineyards and small batch production to produce new and unique flavors.

Their Tempranillo, Cabernet, and Chardonnay are some of their strongest varieties and biggest sellers. The Inwood Estates wines are hand-crafted, allowing for excellent bottle aging ability. Although not necessary to enjoy a high quality Inwood wine, Spencer suggests cellaring the wines for about 1 to 5 years. He points out that they are most proud of their Cabernets- the 2010 Mericana is a hundred percent, single varietal Cabernet that is only made in extremely cool years. Another fan favorite is their 2012 Magdalena, which is a Margaux-style Bordeaux blend offering the complexity of a blended Cabarnet.

From these humble beginnings, Inwood Estates has grown into being a top producer of fine Texas wines and is looking to expand in future years.

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About The Author

Marina Jokic holds a bachelor's degree from Connecticut College in Russian and East...

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