Grover “Cleve” Joiner was making wine in his home 15 years ago, experimenting as he went and testing the results with friends, before he decided to take his wine public.
In 2015, he and his wife, Gillian Goldthorpe, opened Larue Winery in Lewisville, and it quickly became a hot spot in the community.
“[In the beginning] we’d get three to four people in on a Friday or a Saturday, but then the crowd just kept coming and coming,” Joiner said.
A former firefighter and paramedic, Joiner mostly taught himself the science of making wine.
“Being a paramedic for 20 years, I know all about the physiology of the body on a cellular level, and it’s really no different from a science [perspective]when you start researching how grapes oxygenate and how the yeast eats the sugar,” he said.
Many customers favor Larue’s sweet wines because there is no added sugar, unlike other manufactured wines, Goldthorpe said. The sweetness comes naturally from the grapes.
One of the most popular items is the winery’s port, Goldthorpe said.
“We’re very famous for the port because port is normally very sweet, [but]we make ours a little drier, and it’s an amazing taste,” Goldthorpe said.
Larue’s port is made with a distinctive blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and brandy, she said. Other popular drinks include the bourbon barrel red—a whiskey wine—and the French oak aged red wine.
Joiner is also working on a dry wine and a sweet wine made with Carménère grapes from Chile that he plans to debut in mid-February.
Aside from the drinks, a big part of the winery’s draw is its social events, which include a book club, bunco game nights and wine tours, the latter an activity in which Joiner details the steps involved in the wine-making process. Guests can even get a behind-the-scenes peek by helping bottle the wine—a lively affair with snacks, wine samples, music and laughter, Goldthorpe said.
Although the couple is looking for a more spacious facility in the area, they do not want to expand too much or risk losing that community-oriented culture.
“Everybody knows everybody—and if you don’t, you will,” Goldthorpe said. “We don’t ever want to get that big where we lose that [atmosphere].”
1491 N. Kealy Ave., Ste. 55, Lewisville
214-215-7758 | www.laruevineyards.com
Hours: Fri.-Sat. 6-10 p.m., closed Sun.-Thu.