The Story of Burklee Hill Vineyards
It has always been a dream of ours to make our own wine as a tribute to the family and generations before us. And, let's face it, we love wine. But, family-grown Texas High Plains wine? Now that's our true passion. I mean, I do have novinophobia --- the fear of running out of wine. So, here we are. We are excited to share with you the pursuit of our dream for Burklee Hill Vineyards.
Chace and I have talked about making wine and having our own vineyard and winery since we decided to get married in 2010. Chace has been pondering it since shortly after planting the first vines at Krick Hill Vineyards back in 2002. More recently, he has even developed the desire to expand his knowledge in wine making, taking him to a triple threat as a grower, tasting room manager and one-day, wine maker. Part of our desire in launching Burklee Hill Vineyards serves to honor those many generations before us that made us into the dreamers that we are. We both come from families that have truly encouraged us to chase after those dreams and do it without the hindrance of fear. Chace recalls the first few years of grape growing in Hockley County being a struggle to gain acceptance. While fellow cotton farmers understand why grapes are becoming a prominent part of the Texas High Plains, Chace remembers being laughed at when he and his dad stopped growing cotton or other crops to try their hands at wine grapes in West Texas. Back in 2002, it was not common knowledge that this IS the best region in Texas to grow wine grapes.
So, how did we come up with the unique name, "Burklee." Hill makes complete sense, but what's with the rest? Well, we decided on it after choosing the family name, Burkley, for our son's middle name when he was born four years ago. But this time, we decided to make it authentic with the original spellings. See, Chace's maternal grandfather was named, Burk Roberts. Chace has an undeniable resemblance to Burk (pictured right), but sadly, Chace never knew him because Burk was killed by a drunk driver when Chace's mom was only two years old. Burk was named after Chace's great-grandfather, Burnett Burk, whom Chace did have the privilege of knowing well and learning from in business. Burnett was a fearless business man who ventured into any arena without hesitation. In fact, the land where Chace cultivates the wine grapes that we will use for Burklee Hill was first owned by Burnett and we now have a wine named after Burnett.
A few years after Burk's untimely death, Chace's grandmother, Jo Beth, met Eddie Lee Courtney, the man Chace would come to know as his grandfather (pictured below). Jo Beth and Eddie were the owners of many businesses on the downtown square in Levelland, including the building which provides our first tasting room. Consequently, the name, "Burk-Lee," was born.
Chace's mom, Rene, painted these portraits for her mom, Jo Beth, a couple of years ago. Not only do we love hearing and recalling these family stories, but we truly find inspiration from the generations before us. And, don't worry... my family and the generations before me will also play a part in our new venture. After all, they are a part of our story as well. One of our first wines, Banna Sue, is named after my great-grandmother.
So, thank you for listening to our story. We're excited you read down this far and we sure hope you will try our authentic, local wine soon.
Cheers - E
no-vino-phobia (noh-vee-noh-foh-bee-uh) (n.) - (1) a fear of running out of wine or having no wine; (2) also known as torture.