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Dan Parker, co-owner and operator of Winery on the Bay in Rockport, TX has been making beer and wine at home for 35 years. What spurred the change from backroom hobby to flourishing business? A Christmas card.
Dan recalls, “Ten years ago, while living in Gruene, New Braunfels, our family needed to do a Christmas card for that year. So, I made the sauvignon blanc that we still serve here, and we put our Christmas picture as the label. We gave that wine to all our friends and family.”
Half of those creative holiday card recipients came back for more and encouraged Dan and his wife, Debbie, to begin making wine for a living. “Two years later, we opened our first winery in Gruene, New Braunfels called Winery on the Gruene, and it’s still there,” says Dan.
Dan and Debbie loved vacationing in the charming beach town of Rockport. Three years ago, the family decided to relocate from Gruene to the Coastal Bend area for what Debbie calls “a working retirement” and open their second winemaking business, Winery on the Bay. The Parkers still keep the Gruene location up and running with Dan’s monthly visits and a childhood friend as their partner, John Czajkowski.
The success of Dan and Debbie’s business steadily grows. Winery on the Bay has expanded and moved to a larger location in downtown Rockport. This colorful, boutique winery features a large tasting room and comfortable seating options including their wonderful front patio. Through a large window behind the bar, you can see into their winemaking room filled with wine barrels and bottles.
For $5, in their tasting room you can sample 4 of any of their 28 wines. They also offer cheese, salami, crackers, olives, and chocolate to pair and snack on. But what really makes Dan and Debbie’s wineries different is that they use grape juices from all over the world.
Dan explains, “We get our juices from many countries. Because of this, we have a wide variety of wines we make; if you like sweet, dry, traditional whites and reds, custom blends—we have it. There’s a little bit of everything for everybody.”
Their most unique blend varietals are fruit-infused wines. Dan states, “Those are our best-selling. They’re sweet and easy to drink. You don't have to have a meal with them, you can just sit on your patio and drink away.” Flavors have included pomegranate, wild berry, blueberry, and peach to name a few. “Most wineries don't even have them, and we introduce different flavors throughout the year,” Debbie reveals.
The Parker’s aquire the juice and then blend, ferment, filter, bottle, and label it all in-house.
They do the entire process by hand. And just to keep it in the family, their high-school aged son and daughter, Alex and Shelby, are their best helpers. Their children label all the bottles one at a time. Shelby even drew the beautiful crab that is etched onto all of the wine glasses.
Dan and Debbie Parker run their businesses like a family: with care, patience, creativity, and love. They are just as passionate about their award-winning wines as they are for the community of locals and tourists they serve it to.
1007 E North St. Rockport, Texas