November 30, 2019

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Umbra Winery at La Buena Vida Vineyards Springtown boasts a long history in the Texas wine industry. Founded by Dr. Bobby Smith in the early 1970’s, La Buena Vida is the third oldest winery and vineyard in Texas. Owners John Wilson and Debbie Ray-Wilson purchased La Buena Vida in December of 2016 and kept the name with just a small modification to retain the rich and lengthy history Dr. Smith created. Their belief is that they stand on the shoulders of those that toiled before them and to try to be good stewards of their legacy. Dr. Bobby was in the Texas wine industry from the very beginning, helping craft legislation and at one time, was the largest winery by production in Texas. The Wilsons hope they do him proud.

John and Debbie Wilson took on this additional location as a labor of love. “We had dreams of living in Italy one day, thinking it would be nice to not only live out in the country but have our own vines as well. While not abroad, we certainly have that now, as well as an 8,000 sq ft production facility and soon to be completed 8,000 sq ft event center with tasting room and estate barrel room.” Styled in Spanish Colonial fashion, the Event Center holds an expansive Ballroom (La Vista) for weddings and Corporate meetings up to 200; a tasting room with scenic patio (La Terrazza) overlooking the vineyard accommodating up to 70; an estate Barrel Room (La Cava) for 50 and an outdoor Pavillion for outdoor ceremonies complete with an antique bell and tower.   Bride and Groom Suites are well-appointed for that special day’s activities. A full size catering kitchen and staging area allows for caterers to execute a flawless event. Each space can be rented for private events.  The European vibe begun by Dr. Smith is easily continued by the couple who have traveled a good bit and have a love for Europe. Debbie was raised in Italy and John’s mother’s family heralds from Cefalu, Sicily.   As such, guests will enjoy food offerings, aesthetics and wine possibly reminiscent of the Mediterranean.  John hopes to try his hand at a Vin Santo (Saint’s Wine), popular in Italy and typically enjoyed during the Christmas season.

The vision seems to have taken on a life of its own with the recent addition of cottage rentals referred to as The Retreat at La Buena Vida Vineyards. Ranging from one to three bedroom, these quaint and uniquely decorated units provide a wonderful weekend escape or accommodations for wedding parties and large groups utilizing the Event Center. The units come from the DIY Network Show, Texas Flip and Move and so Debbie continued the décor theme with the furnishings to create a personality for each of the cottages. These are available for rent on Airbnb – see our page for descriptions and links! Ideal for girls’ weekend away, couples retreat, or celebration of a special event (birthday, anniversary, holiday).

As the locale develops, the two envision classes at the Event Center for food related topics, a community herb and vegetable garden for the Retreat guests in addition to festivals and celebrations like the Blessing of the Vines in April and Harvest Festival in September.


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