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North Texas winemaker breaking new ground: "Texas wine is having a moment"

Family owned Edge of the Lake Vineyard and Winery is looking to grow
Family owned Edge of the Lake Vineyard and Winery is looking to grow 06:03

NORTH TEXAS — If you love wine, lean in. About an hour's drive north of Dallas, a tree-lined, dirt and gravel road bends around a curve revealing a lush and lovely surprise, the Edge of the Lake Vineyard and Winery. It's 100 windswept acres along Lake Ray Roberts. 

"It's more than I thought it would be initially," says owner Fred Cummings, "but I now know it could be more than it is." 

Dr. Fred Cummings Edge of the Lake Vineyard and Winery owner
CBS News Texas

Dr. Cummings is the MD turned winemaker. He says he's known since he was a child that he wanted to be a doctor, but it was his grandmother's wisdom that planted something in his spirit about the soil. 

"She had a grapevine in her backyard and a fig tree," recalls Cummings. "She says, `Fred'- I must've been about nine years old...just come back from Germany. And she picked up some dirt and said, 'God didn't make any more of this, so get some'." And I said, Yes, ma'am." 

And so he did, ultimately purchasing a former pig farm that became his family's lakefront home. Then when the kids grew up and away, his wife Mary pushed him to do more with the property. So in 2010, he began to plant grapes. 

"The best grape that we grow on this property is actually grenache, but we grow grenache, tempranillo, and albarino," explains Cummings. 

It took some years before he turned out a wine-worthy, award-winning harvest. Still, there was something else flourishing on those vines. Cummings says his proudest moment in his winemaking journey was, "my son coming to help me." 

Fred Cummings and son Christopher McIntosh
Fred Cummings and son Christopher McIntosh are winemakers at  the Edge of the Lake Vineyard and Winery in North Texas. CBS News Texas

That would be his son Christopher McIntosh. He's the vineyard's winemaker. McIntosh admits that he needed some convincing, but now loves every moment. 

"It's ours. We get to take it from fruit to glass- every bit of our work goes into each bottle. I get to share that process with- not only my father but the rest of my family. My wife works here, my daughter works here. My sister-in-law works here, my mother-in-law works here. So it really is a family operation which makes it even more special." 

McIntosh says picking a favorite is like picking a favorite child, but just between us, the grenache has become the winery's award-winning standout. 

"I like to tell everybody we trick our vines into thinking they're in the Mediterranean with all this lakefront property," shares McIntosh with a laugh. "So yeah... that's our favorite grape. We use it in three different wines. We make a rosé with it, we make a younger grenache, and then we make our estate grenache reserve." 

Looking out on Lake Ray Roberts, the views are gorgeous, the tasting room polished and modern, the tasty tidbits and artisan cheeses just perfect for sampling. But the true test of a wine is in the sampling. And a tasting room full of visitors insist that  the Edge of the Lake Vineyard and Winery does not disappoint. 

"So it's very hard work," explains McIntosh. "But again, every bottle that's turned out is a show of success. And the biggest show of that is when somebody tastes something and they just smile in awe of what what you put in a bottle for them." 

Edge of the Lake Vineyard and Winery awards
CBS News Texas

And while the wine is smooth and the hospitality wonderful, "We need a bigger place," admits Cummings. "And we've had a few struggles trying to get that done." 

Dr. Cummings can admit to navigating some bitter realities, Black winemakers are almost non-existent. According to Bloomberg, Black winemakers represent less than one percent of the industry. 

When asked if race has been a barrier in his winery's growth, Cummings responded, "A little bit." 

"It has been a little bit. And when you talk about that, I'm a guy that believes that I can do my best and it's good enough for anyone to appreciate. And that's how I approach my medical career. I approach wine the same way." 

 And then a stray thought makes him pause and he adds with a wry smile, "Get more push back on the wine, than we have on treating people... so." 

When asked what advice he'd share with other minority entrepreneurs contemplating stepping into a space that perhaps the world suggests they do not belong, Cummings replies, "I've heard that so many times. I ignored it because I knew I was good enough. No one's going to tell you that you're good if you sit in the shadows. You've got to step out there." 

And the Edge of the Lake Crew looks to make even more strides. They've got 15 acres planted now and hope to plant as many as 60 of the lake side acres with grape vines. They're also looking for local support to help make the area a wine destination. 

Edge of the Lake Vineyard and Winery property
CBS News Texas

"You think that you can do this and have a little small thing," shares Cummings, "but it grows just like the vines grow, the industry grows, and the business grows and you've got to be able to expand with it or you kind of get squashed." 

He admits to thinking about his grandmother often as he contemplates what he's built and how much more he'd like to see it grow. "You know, she was a small one, but really had determination. And coming out of her upbringing and slavery, if you will. And she wanted her kids and her grandkids to do something, so she was always pushing us forward." 

And Cummings believes the harvest for the entire industry can be grand. 

"Texas wine is having a moment and we need to really grab hold of that and take advantage of it now, not next week, not last, but now." 

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