Monday, November 26, 2012 , Updated 8:00 a.m., December 1, 2012
Wales Manor Winery in McKinney offered reality TV show
The winery attracts more people every year despite a lack of mainstream advertising.
MCKINNEY Just around the corner from nowhere on the northern outskirts of McKinney lies Wales Manor Winery. Although it's still considered the best-kept secret in town, it is gaining notoriety from Nashville to Hollywood.
When owner John "Josey" Wales opened the winery in the rural area along the McKinney/Princeton border, Collin County was virtually uncharted territory in terms of vineyards.
Originally from Boston, the Army vet had a vision for creating an industry, which today has proven to be beneficial given the number of wineries that eventually followed in Wales' footsteps.
"We're a very traditional kind of winery, like one you'd find in Washington or Oregon," Wales said. "We're only open on the weekends. We close during the winter. Last year we were open 41 days and we had 10,400 people visit us."
Wales let his wines age approximately 4 to 6 years and processes them all from fresh Texas fruit. Complete with vineyards, a crush pad outside, and an immense storage area down below, Wales Manor prides itself in taking an active role in every aspect of the wine making process.
"In Texas to be a winery, you only have to make five gallons a year," Wales said. "A lot of wineries make wine from concentrate. A lot of other wineries put their label on their bottles. We don't do any of that. If I was in a downtown [McKinney] area I could never do anything like this."
But the winery is about more than just the wine (try the Blueberry Merlot). Wales, along with his family and staff, are also active in giving back to the families of fallen soldiers, as well as to those less fortunate. The winery also specializes in hosting weddings, concerts, and other social events. This year's last "Music Under the Stars" concert is scheduled for December 1 and will feature Texas native and Nashville recording artist Jon Christopher Davis.
At $10 a ticket, Wales said their concerts encourage visitors to bring a picnic basket and a lawn chair, always making for a fun and cozy evening.
Because of this and Wales' "kind of out there personality," the American Airlines pilot was recently contacted by a production company in Hollywood about the prospect of starting his own reality show based on the business. There are also plans for expanding the winery in order to offer more seating.
"Word travels," Wales said. "We have shot several trailers for the show. The show is in the process of being pitched. [But whatever happens], no reality TV show defines me, my family, or Wales Manor."
Despite its growing popularity, Wales Manor Winery doesn't sell its wine in stores, in restaurants, or on the Internet. The only advertising they do is on Facebook and through their newsletter, a quality Wales said lends to its reputation as a quiet getaway instead of a commercial enterprise.
"We don't need to," said Wales about aversion to big retail practices. "We prefer word of mouth. For our concerts, we don't want it to be a big carnival atmosphere."
Wales Manor Winery is located at 4488 CR 408, McKinney. For information, visit walesmanor.com.
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