What's not to like?

When you run into someone who knows all the answers, avoid him: no one knows all the answers. -Bruce Neyers

Bruce Neyers loves his work. "Every day is different. One day I'm outside working in the vines, next day I'm inside, working in the office as the clerk. Sometimes I'm in California, sometimes France, and here I am in Texas."

He gets immense personal satisfaction from his Neyers Ranch Conn Valley Merlot: these vines are his babies. He planted them himself in 1984. In '99, he began farming them organically and sustainably. He plants a rich winter cover crop between vineyard rows that he will plow under to provide nutrients all summer and surrounds the vineyard with pest-attracting plants.

"We have a saying," he says softly, and then grins, "the best thing you can put in the vineyard is the owner's footprints."

Purity. He constantly inspects the vines and the fruit. When he is ready to harvest, he goes through the vines removing grapes that he rejects based on ripeness and appearance. He then hand harvests all the remaining clusters. The grapes are sorted again when he brings them in from the harvest, and one more time on the way in to being pressed.

What stunned me about the wines was the nose. Every one of the reds had a distinctive appealing heady nose. The fragrance enticed me to breathe in and linger as in a garden. Neyers, formally trained as a chemist, said, "Maybe it's because we keep everything so pure. We don't add anything to the wine."

Two of the wines we couldn't resist are wines you can enjoy now: Neyers Ranch Conn Valley Merlot 2002 - 75% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Cabernet Franc, 2,600 cases produced; and Neyers 2001 Napa Syrah, 899 cases.

Karen Silverston, June 2004