#TravelTuesday: Marker Cellars, One Winery’s Effort to Save Texas

by Donna Long on September 19, 2017 in Travels,
Marker Cellars preserving LBJ Grassland

In the heart of LBJ Grassland, an eco-friendly, family-run winery is dedicated to preserving Texas grassland one bird at a time.

Mark and Becky Rogers, owners of Marker Cellars, a boutique winery in Alvord, Texas are carving out a unique niche in the wine industry.

As many vineyards are turning their sights to increase case production rates, Marker Cellars believes in quality over quantity.

Marker Cellars works in close cooperation with Texas Parks and Wildlife to encourage the return of quail and dove to the grasslands by creating beneficial habitats.

By remaining a small family run winery, Marker focus detailed attention on the winemaking process. Their reds are made by hand following 19th century French traditions. By exclusively using the soutirage, or racking, method to clarify and enhance the aromatic qualities of their Texas red wines they have produced rich and flavorful syrahs, merlots, and red blends.

Wine has not always been in the Rogers blood. Making wine was a passion discovered in California when the family moved from their Texas home pursuing a job change.

The family began exploring their new home state and quickly fell in love with wine country north of Santa Barbara. It was there that the Rogers met Fess Parker and his grandson at Fess Parker Family Winery. A friendship blossomed over discussions of wines and vines. As a reminder of that friendship and the initial seed of creating a winery, a picture of Fess Parker in his coonskin cap still adorns the tasting room today.

The relaxing firepit and outdoor lounging area at Marker Cellars. All photography by Donna Long

Marker Cellars is dedicated to helping conserve and restore the delicate Texas grasslands ecosystem, and the vineyard is a testament to that commitment.

Since purchasing the 90-acre tract in 2006 in the LBJ National Grasslands, the Rogers have removed mesquite and cedar trees which require large amounts of water. They evicted the dairy cows that were over grazing on the native bluestem grasses and planted syrah grape vines. Marker Cellars works in close cooperation with the Texas Parks and Wildlife department to help encourage the return of quail and dove to the grasslands by creating these beneficial habitats.

When asked what was in store for Marker Cellars future, Rogers response was “a great many things.” In keeping with their motto of quality over quantity, Rogers is taking the slow and steady approach to growth. In his words, “they will crawl first, then walk until they can run.” With their latest release of “Primitivo – Legend,” I would say that they are almost to their running stage.

Primitivo is an Italian-based wine grape similar to zinfandel. Legend honors friend and decorated WWII veteran Duel Oscar “Blue” Gambill. Legend is a rich, full-bodied, dark ruby red color, aged in American Oak. Boasting a fruit-forward flavor with hints of cherry and blackberry it pairs nicely with smoky Texas BBQ, Italian dishes, and robust cheeses like Stilton and Cheddar.

Rogers also hinted at a new pairing in the near future that will be a groundbreaking first for Texas and the wine community. What that could be, is anyone’s guess – but you may want to take a drive to Marker Cellars tasting room to check it out.

Marker Cellars is a pet-friendly, comfortable winery where old friends go to relax and meet new friends.

The tasting room is open Saturday 12 pm – 6 pm and Sunday 12 pm – 5 pm. Weekdays by appointment.

Donna Long is an empty nest travel writer with itchy feet looking for experiences and places to fill her glass. Her passion for adventure is evident in where she goes and does. Follow Donna at Donna-Long.com or empty-nestopia.com.