Circle S Vineyards (Sugar Land, TX)

21 Nov

“Highway 90 or I-10 to San Antonio?  Which road would be more fun in a Ferrari?”

So goes the conversation with Dave Stacy, owner and winemaker of Circle S Vineyards, on this lazy Saturday afternoon.  A fifth generation winemaker, Dave is passionate about good wines, fast cars, and strong opinions.  On this particular visit, we discuss the logistics of a short romantic getaway to San Antonio for him and his wife, Helen.  Dave is clearly in the mood for some roadside scenery and, of course, speed.

The winemakers of Texas are a diverse group.  But even within this mixed bag crosscut of the population, Dave stands out.  Former head of a Formula 1 racing car company, Dave loves his Italian race cars and vineyards.  Yes, the Stacys have family vineyards in both Tuscany, Italy, and Centerville, Texas.  But that doesn’t stop Dave from purchasing grapes from other vineyards.  His theory behind winemaking is that the best wines come from the best products, and he has relationships with 20 different vineyards to ensure he gets the best. 

You won’t be able to appreciate Dave Stacy’s, slightly cocky in a likable way, dedication to creating the best by looking at the exterior of the winery, located in a suburban strip mall in the bedroom community of Sugar Land.


Inside, the tasting room is a different matter.  There’s nothing bland about those passion red walls and ginormous tasting glasses (according to Dave, you could fit a whole bottle of wine in one glass.  But I haven’t tried to yet).  The wall behind the tasting bar displays the awards Circle S has garnered over the last ten or so years.


The awards list is simply too long to get into.  Let’s just say that Dave’s talent for picking the best products to make the best wines hasn’t gone unnoticed.  Generally, Circle S wines belong to two categories: lighter, unoaked, fruitier wines with a black cap and big, bold, oaky wines with a gold cap.  I prefer a traditional style red wine, so my favorites from Circle S are the Vintner’s Reserve style under the gold cap.  There isn’t a single gold cap wine that I don’t enjoy, but being that Circle S wines are on the upper end of the Texas wine price scale ($25 to $32 for Vintner’s Reserve), I end up having to make some difficult decisions at the end of the wine tasting as I would love to take them all home.  This past trip, we picked up the Ibello (Vintner’s Signature Blend) and a favorite from a previous visit, the 2003 Pinot Noir (Vintner’s Reserve).  The Ibello is a Bordeaux-style blend that has won a gold medal for every competition it has entered into, and according to Dave, “collected by connoisseurs on three continents.” 

If you’re a wine enthusiast and you find yourself in the Houston area, visiting the Circle S tasting room is a must, if for nothing else but to meet the fascinating man behind the wines.  I’ll never forget our first visit to Circle S when Dave went on a ten minute rant about how awful it was to have President Bush order cases of Circle S wine for a White House dinner.  Yes, you heard him right, it was awful.  The secret service had to check the wine by opening a bottle out of each case, taking a sip to ensure no poisonous elements were present, and disposing of the rest of the bottle.  According to Dave, the entire process was utter heartache.  The story is borderline comical, but when you taste Dave’s wines and hear him talk about those prized bottles, you’ll completely understand the pain.

Circle S Vineyards
9920 Hwy 90 A, #B-268
Sugar Land, TX 77478

4 Responses to “Circle S Vineyards (Sugar Land, TX)”

  1. Hayley 11/21/2007 at 9:49 pm #

    I’ll just say that I-10 would not be fun in a Ferarri. Especially when you get stuck behind the Veteran’s Day Harley ride from Houston to San Antonio.

  2. donnaaries 12/04/2008 at 5:41 pm #

    Dropped by Circle S while I was in Houston for Thanksgiving. The winemaker has just released his first Amarone (2006 Corvina Amarone). For those unfamiliar with the Corvina varietal, the amarone is a deep red Italian wine that literally means “the big bitter one.” The fruit, after separation from the stem, is laid out on bamboo mats in a temperature and humidity controlled environment for 3 to 4 months. Thus, the process is laborious. However, the flavors of this big red is complex and smooth and lingers in the mouth. The Circle S Corvina Amarone is a steep $59 but Dave is only one of two winemakers in the US making an Amarone. There are less than 150 Amarone makers n the world and most of those are in Italy. A very exciting find for me.

  3. Brigitte Delong 05/27/2010 at 10:31 pm #

    If only I had a nickel for each time I came here.. Great article!

  4. Dave Stacy 07/07/2010 at 7:28 am #

    I remember you! (which is pretty good considering I can’t remember what I had for luch) How kind of you to write about us. There has been so much happening at the winery with lots of new releases. Our Syrah and Pinot Noir are outstanding this year. The next time you’re in town come see us; the first glass is on me.

    By the way, we took Hwy 90……….

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