Messina Hof is a special place for me. It is located next to my Uncle Cliff’s ranch where one of my earliest memories is hooking a catfish in the pond. I don’t remember who won out but I do remember being afraid of being pulled into the water by the catfish. I cannot tell you how surprised I was to find out someone was planting vines next to the ranch. My first thought was this is insane. The area had kind of a hill, a small pond and only a few trees. I mention the trees only because the first building at Messina Hof was a white trailer with no AC. When one needed to use the bathroom it was die in the heat box or hike to the trees. Somehow Paul and his lovely wife Merrill survived. As he used to say don’t give up the day job when asked about going into the wine business.
Vintner Dinners and Bus Trips
In the early days of Messina Hof , Paul was a brave soul and willing to partner with myself and Gaye Platt the leader of the Knights Of the Vine. We all shared a common bond of being slightly insane.
Grape Stomping 101 – August 22, 1993 THE AGENDA
Students wearing shorts (please no nudity) will have the opportunity to take this higher level course. They will be divided into the following categories based upon ability.
Very Shy: will produce the Chenin Blanc
Very Sexy: will produce the White Zinfandel
Very Sensual: will produce the Cabernet
Very Assertive: will produce the Port
We did this for 3 years in a row. We left from Houston around 9am on buses and returned to Houston about 5pm. One year we had two buses and one broke down. After waiting in the hot Texas sun near Navesota for an hour. The bus driver took pity on us and we all climbed into one bus. I am not kidding when I say the bus sank down so far we were 4 inches for the ground. Nobody could move, but we could drink. Anybody who bought wine at the winery offered their wine as a sacrifice. We started the wine bottles at the front of the bus and passed them backward. Needless to say everyone in the front the bus was stumbling drunk and the everyone in the back was pretty sober.
I had the opportunity to revisit Messina Hof this summer. It has changed so much from those early days that I thought I was at Robert Mondavi Winery. It is one beautiful operation now, and Paul and Merrill Bonarrigo deserve all the success they have. Paul promised he would always keep that white trailer to remind him of the old days. But alas it has disappeared, as has the idea of putting a shrimp boat in the pond and selling dinner on the boat.