Richard and Melanie Bowen spent the last six months pouring their savings into the Silver Dollar Winery — the first in the city. Now, they’re savoring a steady stream of customers.
The Bowens opened their winery in a former antique store last month and said many of their customers are discovering them through social media sites.
“Every week, we are seeing more and more customers; it’s great,” Richard Bowen said.
The Bowens aren’t worried about the many wineries in nearby Grapevine, which is also home to the annual GrapeFest celebration, saying they want to promote Texas wines from smaller producers as well as create their own.
“Competition is good,” Melanie Bowen said.
The couple said they want to capitalize on Bedford’s emphasis on arts and culture. The winery is near the Old Bedford School, home to concerts and other events and the area where the city wants to establish a cultural district.
“We love it here,” Richard Bowen said as he sat in the cozy tasting room with tables made from wine barrels. “Melanie introduced me to wine and it became a passion of ours.”
Melanie Bowen said that when she was growing up her family didn’t drink wine. But when she turned 21, she discovered that she liked sampling wines during a trip to the Napa Valley.
“I said pull over, I see a winery. It’s something fun; I’ve always had a passion for it,” she said.
She said she wants to support the Texas Wine industry, which continues to boom.
According to the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association, Texas is the fifth- largest wine-producing state and seventh-largest for growing grapes.
The wine industry also contributes more than $1.88 billion to the state’s economy, according to a 2013 study. There are about 1.6 million visitors to Texas wineries annually and they spend $466.1 million.
The Bowens plan to have their own wines at the store by July 4.
The Silver Dollar wines have a patriotic theme, with names such as Liberty Cabernet. Some are also named for former presidents including Ike’s Red and Jefferson Chardonnay. There is even a peach wine called I’mPeached.
The Bowens are working with a vineyard near Brownfield, about 40 miles southwest of Lubbock to get their red wines. Their white wines are from an area near Bonham.
The Silver Dollar also serves cheese plates, and if you need a summer treat to cool off, check out the wine-infused ice creams. The flavors include dark chocolate and cherry with a hint of red wine.
Although business is taking off, the Bowens aren’t quitting their “real jobs” yet. Melanie is a nurse practitioner for a nursing home, and her husband drives a truck from Dallas to Buda, hauling everything from steel to clothing.
Elizabeth Campbell, 817-390-7696