Messina Hof Harvest Green Winery & Kitchen Celebrates Its "Soft" Opening
February 09, 2021
When Paul V. and Merrill Bonarrigo first opened Messina Hof Wine Cellars in Bryan, Texas in 1977, they had one acre of vineyard planted with 50 different varieties of grapes. Over the years, the winery grew, and couple added two more locations. Messina Hof Hill Country Winery and Manor Haus in Fredericksburg, TX opened in 2011 and the Messina Hof Grapevine Winery in Grapevine, TX followed in 2014. This month, their son, Paul M. Bonarrigo and his wife Karen, launched the Messina Hof Harvest Green Winery & Kitchen in Richmond, TX, just outside of Houston.
Paul M. Bonarrigo, who became CEO and head winemaker of Messina Hof in 2014, told Wine Business Monthly that the Harvest Green Winery was his and his wife’s dream. “It’s the culmination of our vision,” he said. “I’ve been working on this project for three, four years. We had delays this past year from manufacturing issues and hiring problems.” The Bonarrigo family broke ground for the new winery in January 2020. By late January 2021, the facility was finally ready for the first soft opening for residents in Harvest Green, a master-planned, agricultural-based farm community that was established by the Houston-based Johnson Development Corporation.
The new winery will be the second largest of the four Messina Hof facilities. It will include an onsite vineyard, a wine processing and production area, a barrel room and a wine warehouse. The location will also handle all direct-to-consumer shipping operations for the company.
Bonarrigo reported that the building has approximately 12,000 square feet, and includes an “expansive” tasting room with an 83-foot wine bar and a full-service restaurant. In describing the restaurant, Bonarrigo noted that “every dish has wine in it. The menu isn’t fully farm-to-table, but that’s our goal. We go for local products and work with the farm right behind [the winery] for produce.” The restaurant will feature Messina Hof’s Vineyard CuisineTM, a concept that incorporates Messina Hof’s wines with locally harvested vegetables and herbs in each dish. The facility also has two private tasting rooms and a 2,500 square-foot covered patio.
According to Bonarrigo, there will be several staggered soft opening events in February for Messina Hof VIP members and Wine Club members as well as Harvest Green residents, with a grand opening for the public scheduled on the weekend of February 26-28. Regular tasting room and restaurant hours will begin after the grand opening event.
New Wines with Augmented Reality Labels Join the Wine List
In conjunction with the opening of the Harvest Green Winery & Kitchen, Messina Hof partnered with the VISION Production Group in Houston to design the first augmented reality (AR) wine labels in Texas. Three new Messina Hof wines – Abounding, a dry red wine; Vitality, a dry white wine; and Emblaze, a sweet red wine – feature the new AR labels that can be activated by using the Messina Hof app. The app can be downloaded by scanning the QR code on the back of the bottle or acquired at the Mac App Store online.
When the consumer opens the app, a screen comes up with four choices: “Experience AR,” “Browse our wines,” “View our pairings” or “Learn more about us.” When the consumer clicks on Experience AR, the app turns on the phone’s camera that, when pointed at the wine label, will start a 30-second statement about the wine experience. A “vine” grows out of the “ground” surrounding the bottle, winds its way up and around the bottle and label. Leaves come out, then grapes appear, and sometimes a butterfly lands on the vine or flowers rise from the ground.
At the end, a small sign drops down and suggests the user touch the interactive recipe sign for an appropriate recipe to pair with the wine: Bacon Macaroni and Cheese with the dry red Abounding, Chicken Zitrone with the dry white Vitality, and Cocoa Rubbed Filet Mignon with the sweet red Emblaze. [Author’s note: we opened a bottle of Vitality and made the Chicken Zitrone for dinner one night. The recipe called for ½ a cup of the wine to be included in the recipe, and consequently, the wine paired beautifully with the chicken and its sauce.]