A Casual Approach, a Keen Attention to Detail

Rae Wilson

Posted on December 20, 2021

As the force behind Wine for the People in Austin, winemaker and community advocate Rae Wilson has created a range of labels highlighting the land and diversity of Texas–including Dandy Pink, The Grower Project, and La Valentía Wine. A native of St. Louis, she worked harvests in Napa and Portugal before settling in Texas, where the wine scene continues to expand. You since might’ve read about her work in Vogue, Eater, and Wine Enthusiast. One of the very first winemakers featured through the Woman-Owned Wineries club back in 2018, Rae has been a longtime friend of this endeavor and now serves as an advisory board member. She recently offered these thoughts on her work.

How did you first become interested in winemaking?

I was a sommelier for years working in fine dining, then industry consulting, and decided that continuing my wine study would include learning winemaking. I wasn’t sure that it would lead me to wanting to be a winemaker, but it eventually did.

Who have been some of your mentors, in the wine biz or beyond? 

In life- my grandmother, and countless women that taught me to create my own path and not take ‘no’ for an answer. In wine- Elisabetta Foridori, Arianna Occhipinti, Cathy Corison, I could name a hundred.

What do you love about the Texas wine industry? What would you like to see improve?

The amount of physical space to explore in Texas can be overwhelming, but it feels exciting to feel like I can truly contribute to helping build this young industry.  I would like to see greater diversity of people represented in all levels of the industry.

You recently opened a tasting room in cooperation with another winery. Tell us more—and congratulations!

Thanks! My tasting room is west of Austin by about 30 min. in the Texas Hill Country. Many of my wines are available exclusively there or through my wine club. An artistic industrial feel indoors and outdoor seating in a cedar grove, the setting has a casual feel, but shows the attention to detail that I hope to give all my work.

We hear you're also a musician. What kinds of music do you perform, and which instruments do you play?

I put bands together and would sing/write & play guitar, generally rock in the vein of Sonic Youth, Pavement, The Breeders, etc. I don’t play out anymore, but I spend time seeing lots of live shows here in Austin.

What is your greatest challenge in your work? What is your greatest joy?

The greatest challenge would be making wine in a place with little wine industry infrastructure and a land mass the size of France. Small things, ha! The greatest joy is seeing how it inspires curiosity and connects people to each other and the ground underneath their feet.

What is your favorite drink at the end of a long day (wine, beer, or anything else)?

Bubbles or a mezcal margarita.