Just south of Cedar Creek Lake’s marinas, lakeside villas, and aquatic wildlife lies an upscale winery oasis known as Triple N Ranch & Winery. The 12-acre winery is home to a herd of longhorn cattle, a vineyard, and Triple N wines. It’s also part of a destination experience that offers a first-class tasting room, food pairings, concerts, and special events.
Triple N’s name comes from the three generations of women who own it — Nan Dee Creel, her daughter Nan Michelle Anderson, and granddaughter Nan Christina. Nan Creel has raised purebred longhorns on the Henderson County ranch since 1983. The Creels also own a curated wine cellar with 2,000 bottles.
Wine enthusiast and eighth-generation Texan Michelle Anderson wanted to do something more with her parents’ beautiful longhorn ranch — a place she loved to visit and longed to share with others. After several visits to wineries in the Texas Hill Country, her inspiration for starting Triple N began to take shape.
The family set apart space for the winery in the longhorn pastures of their 140-acre ranch. They transformed the ranch’s original barn into the winery’s centerpiece as a sophisticated tasting room, serving area, and event center.
Word about Triple N spread quickly since its opening in 2020. The venue draws hundreds each weekend for wine tastings and outdoor concerts. Guests enjoy wines with brick-oven fired pizzas, charcuterie trays, Italian-style salads with fennel and arugula, panini sandwiches, baked cookies, and s’mores pizzas.
Triple N occasionally partners with chefs who pair the wines with multi-course dinners. Dinner events encourage guests to sample varieties that complement appetizers, entrees, and desserts.
The venue seats 120 guests indoors and 100 on the outdoor patio — the ranch’s former horse stables — and offers plenty of room for social distancing and outdoor service, even during cooler months.
There’s room for hundreds more on the lawn behind the building where guests can spread out at picnic tables to hear concerts while enjoying wines with a simple meal.
During warm weather months the ranch hosts tribute concerts on weekends. Guests enjoy lawn games and see longhorns, which gather in a pen behind the lawn for feeding when cued by the music.
“We have indoor and outdoor seating with a lot of area to spread out,” Anderson says. “We have covered patios that are also heated and lawns with firepits.”
Triple N’s priority is production of excellent wines. The ranch’s managing partners are Michelle’s husband Richard and their son Richard Jr. All three are passionate about wines and recently completed viticulture and enology courses at Grayson College in Denison, Texas.
“We want to make excellent Texas wines and we want to share them with people in the region,” Michelle says.
Though Texas has more than 500 wineries, many are struggling to gain acceptance within the state.
“Still most of the wine that’s consumed in Texas is from California, so it’s about getting people to try and drink Texas wines,” Richard Sr. says. “We’re aiming for people to come and enjoy the wines and have a great experience.”
The expert who makes Triple N wines is Michael McClendon of Sage’s Vintage Custom Crush Winery in Nacogdoches, Texas. He creates wines according to the Anderson family’s tastes and high standards, fashioning varieties that few other Texas wineries offer.
Triple N’s newest wines include Tannat (2019), Malbec (2019), Viognier, and Blanc du Bois (2019). Sangiovese, Montepulciano, Roussanne, and the Tuscan Longhorn Blend are other varieties not usually available from Texas vineyards.
Varieties of wine at Triple N range in flavor from sweet to dry and bold to complex to satisfy the wide range of tastes among Texans.
“Being Texans, we are very diverse in what we do and don’t like,” McClendon says. “Texas truly is the Wild West of the frontier of wine making and production. We’ve been able to have success in converting people who have very high expectations who are not accustomed to drinking Texas wines.”
Three of Triple N’s wines recently won awards at the American Wine Society competition. The Voignier and Tannat varieties won silver medals and the Tuscan Longhorn Blend won a bronze. The Voignier and Tuscan also won silver medals in the Lonestar International Competition.
The Triple N experience is also about its patrons, who share in enjoying the wines and participating in events.
The wine club is one way the winery encourages a sense of community among guests. The upstairs tasting room is open to wine club members. It sits in the barn’s former hayloft above the serving and dining areas and offers a beautiful view of the ranch and the longhorn cattle.
Joining the wine club is free to members, who enjoy discounts on wine purchases, benefits, and invitations to special events such as gatherings in the tasting room and special pricing on wine and food events. Wine club members are moved off the waitlist for concerts, receive discounts on bottles, and are notified first of new releases.
The vine sponsorship program also encourages participation. Patrons can sponsor their own vines at the spring planting and attend a planting party celebration. They can also add a name plaque in their section.
Participation can also include pruning and harvesting the vineyard, having the first option to purchase wine made with the grapes once bottled, and visiting the vines each step of the way and attending a bottling party.
“I’m very proud of the vineyard that we planted,” Michelle says. “I feel like I have 560 children I have to check on.”
After grapes are harvested in the fall, the wine-making process begins. The summer concert series also winds down but wine club members can continue to attend tastings and enjoy views of the ranch.
Some visitors will partake in wine-paired holiday dinners; others may attend book talks by seasoned literary critics or participate in fundraisers that support local causes. Membership is open to everyone, plenty of space is available, and more additions to the winery are on the way.
“We’re planning more events, tastings, and parties,” Michelle says. ”I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
As for the longhorns? They’re almost always ready for more company — and more music.
Triple N Ranch is open 4 to 7 p.m. Fridays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays. Visit the ranch’s website to stay current with special events such as concerts, dinner events, and fundraisers or subscribe to their email list.
Reservations are required for most events and can be made by calling (361) 867-9463. The ranch is located at 5220 Key Ranch Road, Trinidad, Texas, 75163. Visit online at www.triplenranchwinery.com.