The Wrangler Pinot Noir - A History

The proprietary names we give our wines – in wine lingo, that’s the name of the wine on the label – are all in honor of our families.  The personalities, the adventures, the “themes” of our generations prior that inspire or amuse us.  Todd has a NASA engineer on his side of the family.  Me, I have country folk.  

I left Texas in 1999 and in the years since, I have grown more and more reverent of the place and people from which I come.  As a parent now, I reflect often on the lessons learned from those spirited people and apply them almost daily in family and work life.  It’s a privilege to be able to pay tribute to them through Ernest via our stories, our portraits...and our proprietary names.

Mary Ellen “Dude” Barton is my great aunt, now 94 years young.  Aunt Dude is a living legacy.  Raised by a dad who refused (or was unable) to acknowledge that she, as the youngest and a girl, should be raised any differently than her brothers, was tied to a horse to prevent her from falling off before she was strong enough to have control.  In today’s world this might be considered endangerment at the very least, but in the vast miles of unoccupied ranchland, it was simply necessary during long ranching days with much work to be done. 

As a young woman, she rodeo-ed against the men because there was no other vehicle for her to compete.  She usually won.  Eventually, she returned home to claim her own section of the family ranch and begin the arduous toil of farming and ranching to support herself.  She tells her story better than I ever could dream to, but the bottom line is she lived a life that even as a very young girl, I knew was different.  It was full of adventure, risk, courage, and love.  She was not afraid of not fitting in when most other females gossiped over coffee in kitchen huddles…she was in her place along the fence-line talking livestock with the boys.  I esteem her beyond words.  She’s famous outside of Motley County; inducted into the Cowgirl Hall of Fame and co-founder of what is now the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association.  But that’s just noise to me as the very lucky girl who got to occasionally tromp around in her shadow.

In 2012, our consultant winemaker, Kent, introduced us the owner of the 15-acre Clary Ranch / Grand Vent vineyard planted to Pinot Noir and Syrah that just so happens to be surrounded by their 115 acre horse ranch.  What else were we going to call the wine made from this fruit but “The Wrangler”, in honor of Aunt Dude’s career in rodeo and horse breeding?  

You might think that is where the stars align, but it gets better.  In 2015, the beautiful vintage allowed for us to channel our own risky, adventurous, courageous sides and ferment the wine as almost 80% whole cluster.  Wow.  We had yet to do anything like that at Ernest although we’d been educating ourselves in small ways every vintage on whole cluster.  I’ll write another post on whole cluster soon, but what I need you to understand now is that the wine is vibrant, energetic, and one of the most delicious things we’ve ever crafted.  I marvel at it and can’t wait for your feedback on it!

Our spring release opens this Wednesday, March 14 and, in my opinion, this wine wins the blue ribbon.