McKINNEY – Mitas Hill Vineyard invited the public to experience the art of winemaking from start to finish this past weekend during its annual Harvest Festival.

More than 120 guests rolled up their sleeves and gently cut clusters of Venus grapes off the vines, filling large buckets with the plump purple fruit – and enjoying a taste or two. They then accompanied their grapes to the winery, where they helped remove any leaves and then put the grapes into a mechanical crusher. Guests then gathered for food, music and wine tastings, where they sampled the Black Gypsy wine that Mitas Hill creates on-site from its Venus grapes.

A guest hand-cuts grapes from the vine and places them in a bucket.

All photos by OwnbeyPhotography.com

A guest hand-cuts grapes from the vine and places them in a bucket.

 

Groups of friends, families and couples from throughout North Texas joined in what they described as a fun, truly unique experience.

“How many people do you know who get to pick grapes in Texas?” asked guest Carol Craft. “You hear of people getting to do this at wineries in California and Italy – and now here. You can’t beat Texas.”

Craft, along with Dana Miller, Linda Evans and Helen Browning, decided to come out for their first-ever grape harvest to “cross this off our bucket list.” They enjoyed taking part in a “beautiful, worldly experience” available in their own backyard.  The friends drove a few minutes from Melissa and Princeton into McKinney to enjoy the day at the family owned and managed vineyard and winery.

The grape harvest on Saturday was a way for Mitas Hill Vineyard to fulfill its ongoing mission of offering guests the opportunity to indulge in the experience and art of winemaking. Mitas Hill Vineyard is the vision of Harold and Susan Mitas and their adult children, Steve Mitas, Michelle Beythan and Lisa Kocsis.

The vineyard grows six varietals – Tempranillo, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Venus and Black Spanish grapes – on 35 beautifully manicured acres. During ongoing tours and wine tastings at Mitas Hill, guests are able to savor the lovely wines created and bottled on-site.

 

In 2014, Mitas Hill Vineyard will open a one-of-a-kind 15,000-square-foot special events venue, which is being constructed on a natural hill overlooking the grapevines to provide a stunning backdrop for weddings, corporate retreats, parties, charity events, wine education events and tastings. The venue will also offer special memberships.

A guest pours her grapes into a mechanical crusher.

A guest pours her grapes into a mechanical crusher.

“The events center will help us offer our guests a unique experience they will never forget – and an experience they cannot get anywhere else in North Texas,” explained Harold Mitas. “I like to say that the memberships will allow guests to indulge in the luxury of being a vineyard owner without all the work.” One such perk, for example, is that members will be able to bottle their own wine with a private label and create their own blends of wine.

The events center will feature two levels. A new winery and wine cellar known as The Cave will be built into the natural hill so that wine can be crafted and stored in a climate-controlled setting. The Cave will include a small room for intimate parties.

The upper level – built with floor-to-ceiling windows – will feature a 3,000-square-foot Grand Ballroom, a 2,000-square-foot clubhouse and a 2,000-square-foot Wine Tasting Room.

The Grand Ballroom will seat 250 people for large occasions. The clubhouse will have family room-style seating for as many as 100 people and will be available for membership holders. The Wine Tasting Room, at the center of the complex, will feature a free-standing fireplace and pizza oven with seating for 100 people, offering light fare, wine tastings and TVs playing the big game. A large, airy lobby will connect the Wine Tasting Room with the Grand Ballroom and serve as the main entrance.

Rob King was among the guests at Saturday’s grape harvest who said they were excited to hear details about the new 15,000-square-foot events center.

 
A panoramic view of a section of grapevines at Mitas Hill.

A panoramic view of a section of grapevines at Mitas Hill.

“It’s so unique to have this available in our area,” King said. “The special events center – it is an incredible concept.”

Guest Zenobia McKinney grew up on a Concord grape farm in Pennsylvania, where her family sold grapes to Welch’s. She was feeling homesick three years ago when she happened to spot Mitas Hill’s grapevines while driving by. She met the Mitas family and appreciates the opportunity to talk grapes and take part in the yearly harvest.

She loves absorbing the beauty of Mitas Hill Vineyard, and she praises the Mitas family for being so kind and welcoming to everyone – and for seeing their unique vision for the vineyard to fruition.

“Their work ethic is amazing,” McKinney said. “You see all the generations of the family working together, running around and pitching in. The work ethic that is shown here is exemplary.”

For more information about Mitas Hill Vineyard, the new special events center or to obtain memberships, please call 972-316-7991 or go online to MitasHillVineyard.com. To stay updated on events, please connect with Mitas Hill Vineyard on Facebook and follow @MitasHill on Twitter.

The June 2013 issue of McKinney Magazine featured a story on Mitas Hill. Click to read "Mitas Hill Vineyards: A Little Slice of Heaven in McKinney."