Did you know there’s a winery near the beltway and I-10, hidden inside Houston city limits? Not only is there a winery, but a farm stocked with chickens, vegetable gardens and a purpose to give back.
Houston Life’s Derrick Shore paid a visit to Nice Winery.
Lunchtime at Nice Winery
It’s lunchtime at nice winery and Shore gets a chance to feed the chickens. He feeds ‘Edgar’ from his hand and throws additional food on the ground for the birds to snack. “I am a little bit nervous. Oh, I can really feel that. Oh, wow!” said Shore.
Ryan Levy and Ian Eastveld, both sommeliers and chefs created Nice winery more than a decade ago with a focus on delicious responsibly made wine. So having chickens is a critical part of organic winemaking. You’re not using pesticides to keep the pests away.
“We’re not only the very first commercial winery inside the city limits of Houston. We also wanted to be a fully sustainable farm,” said Levy. He added, “To show people that agriculture can happen in the city. We can know where our food comes from, we can know where our grapes come from, we can know where eggs come from right here in the middle of Houston.”
Winery inside a city
A lot of Houstonians are surprised when they find out that a winery like this exists here in the city.
“I love finding people who’ve lived here all their lives. I’m a native Houstonian and there are people who have lived here their whole lives and they pull up and they’re like, ‘I never imagined that we have farms inside the city limits again.’” said Levy. He added, “We have a fully organic vegetable garden. We grow all of our own herbs and produce here for our Friday night wine club member dinners.”
The Winemaking process
Nice winery ages their white wines in large stainless-steel tanks and the red wines are in oak barrels. According to Levy, when you make wine, wine is cloudy and most commercial winemaking operations use all types of animal products to clarify their wine. Nice winery doesn’t use any of those products in their wine. They allow the wine to clarify with gravity naturally.
So how long does it take them for an entire tank of wine for all of the sediment to settle down at the very bottom?
Total of about nine months. The grapes are from their vineyards out in Burton, about 90 minutes north of Houston.
Giving back one glass at a time
“29 years ago, I was a senior at Dulles High School in Sugar Land. My dream was to go to Rice University, but couldn’t have afforded to go to Rice,” said Levy. He added, “I applied for a scholarship from the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. That scholarship enabled me to go to my dream school Rice University and embark on a career that I never imagined possible.” They make three wines that 100% of the proceeds go back to local charities.
“We support the Periwinkle Foundation, which sends kids who are being treated with life threatening illnesses away to camp and then we also support The Rose which provides mammograms to every woman who needs one in the greater Gulf Coast area, regardless of her ability to pain. And there are about 200 other charities that we donate private events to here at the winery to help give back and build community. There’s nothing more important,” said Levy.