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Texas Wine Makes its Way to Downtown Brownwood

Over the past decade, Texas has quietly assumed the spot as the second-largest wine-drinking state in the country. In fact, Texas is not only good at drinking wine, but also producing it, ranking 5th in the US for production. So with Texas wine on the rise, a couple of local entrepreneurs decided it was time to bring wines from the Heart of Texas to downtown Brownwood and the rest of the state.

Small Business Dreams

Hayley Fowler has been a part of the hospitality and beverage industry in Brownwood for some time. She moved to town about 14 years ago and worked at the Turtle Restaurant eventually becoming a mixologist. Her personal interest in cocktails, beers, and wines and her job responsibilities led her to explore the wine industry, and she studied the wine-making process, which led to a role with well-known Central Texas winery, Brennan Vineyards. After learning about the industry and process of making wine, Hayley started making her own wine at Rancho Loma Vineyards in Coleman, Texas. Today, she serves as the Assistant Winemaker at Kerrville Hills Winery.

Sara Cox grew up in Brownwood. Like many, she dreamed of exploring other places and accomplished that goal by joining the military. After serving, Sara returned and found her niche in electrical work, joining Digger’s Diamond Electric. Sara and Hayley met along the way and Sara encouraged Hayley to pursue her dream of opening a winery. Motivated by other neighboring towns like San Saba and Comanche and school friend Ashley Jaynes and Pioneer Tap House, Sara and Hayley wanted to be a part of the revitalization efforts happening in downtown Brownwood. The two joined together to form 10 Mile Productions in the early Spring of 2020.

Finding the Right Place 

Brownwood is in the midst of revitalization in our downtown area, and many old buildings are being designated as ideal locations to start new businesses with support from the Brownwood Municipal Development District (BMDD). Ray Tipton worked tirelessly with Hayley and Sara to identify possible building options, and even coordinated meetings with property owners, and neighbor businesses to help make the perfect choice. In the end, Hayley and Sara selected what was once known to locals as the Southern Hotel. The Southern Hotel dated back to the late 1800’s with its heyday coming around the end of World War II. The building was a downtown staple back in the day, and the thing that caught Hayley and Sara’s eye was the still existing bank vault. The Southern Hotel had very strong ties to the Greatest Generation and Camp Bowie, and this connection was not lost on Sara and her military ties.

Starting the Winemaking Process

Anyone who knows anything about wine knows that the process is neither inexpensive nor easy and it takes time and patience. For some time, 10 Mile Productions was a self-described winery without a home. Sara is in the midst of the process of continuing her education to receive a certification that will help 10 MIle Productions plant their own local vineyard a few years down the road. In the meantime, they have been acquiring grapes throughout Texas for small-batch wines over the past few years, while building up toward opening a storefront winery. Grapes provided from Western Hill Vineyards started the tradition of 100% Texas grapes sourced from Victoria, Texas to the Texas Panhandle. Recently, 10 Mile Productions developed their first labeled wine, a Blanc du Bois which is made from a hybrid grape variety.

Looking to the Future

Hayley and Sara have certainly faced some challenges trying to open a new business in the middle of a pandemic, but despite slow turnaround-times to getting state permits approved, furniture and electricity challenges, as well as light renovations, they are on track for a soft-opening this March. Plans are in place down the road to create a wine cellar and library and lounge area at 10 Mile Productions, which are just part of the bigger vision. Until they have a vineyard of their own, 10 Mile Productions will operate as a collective, featuring wine and a handful of craft beers from all over Texas, giving locals the opportunity to sample beers & wines that would normally require a 200-300 mile drive. Plans are already in place to feature wines hailing from Mason, Fredericksburg, Johnson City, and Kerrville, as well as other talented wine-makers from all over the state.

Keeping the Goals in Mind

10 Mile Productions is poised not only to have a big impact on Brownwood but on all of the Heart of Texas. Hayley and Sara have set goals to showcase the diverse and distinct wines of Texas, be a part of making Brownwood a cool and vibrant place to live again, and eventually helping foster a new American Viticultural Area (AVA) in Brownwood, as well as bolstering regional production, to better support the quality of grapes, and by extension the quality of the wine.

10 Mile Productions and the BMDD

10 Mile Productions is another exciting addition to downtown Brownwood, and we can’t wait for them to open! You can keep up with the latest news from 10 Mile Productions on their Facebook page. If you are interested in starting your own business in Brownwood, please reach out to us at the BMDD for contacts, resources, and information about available buildings and economic support opportunities.

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