Saviana Winery is once again open for business in Cedar Hill, where it’s attracting a following of discerning Texas wine lovers. The delightfully decorated boutique winery is located at 316 Cooper Street, just off Highway 67 South.
Owners Julie Denton and her husband, Jeff Brown, moved to Cedar Hill in 2014. They fell in love with the Cooper Street property after several visits to Trios Grill, a locally popular Tex-Mex restaurant owned by Hector Angeles. The restaurant closed and the property, with its spacious covered patio and great location near Cedar Hill’s historic downtown district, became available.
Julie and Jeff had been actively searching for a place to open a winery, and quickly decided the former Trios Grill location was too good an opportunity to pass up. They purchased the building in April of 2020, even though Covid restrictions would not allow them to open yet. The entrepreneurial young couple spent the next several months renovating and refurbishing the building, even making their own rustic-looking wooden tables and other furniture for the Tasting Room.
Saviana Winery LLC opened in August 2020, after the TABC ruling allowed breweries, wineries and bars to open if food sales made up 51% or more of their revenue.
“Since I had once run a pizza place, I knew that flatbreads were something we could easily do,” Julie said, “along with our fruit and cheese platters.”
Saviana Winery Named for Great Aunt
The winery is named for Julie’s great-aunt Saviana, who was her grandfather’s sister. Aunt Saviana was locally renowned for the delicious wine she made from her fruit trees. Saviana lived on some acreage in northern Kansas in a town called Billy Goat Hill. As a young girl in the 1970s, Julie spent a lot of time with her Aunt Saviana. She loved picking baskets of fruit from the backyard orchard to help make wine.
Julie said her great aunt made wine from wild grapes and strawberries, and from apple, peach, plum, and crabapple trees. She even made dandelion wine, “or anything with fructose,” fermenting the juices in demijohns–large ceramic containers approximately 30 gallons in size. After fermenting the wine for several months, Saviana invited her family, friends and neighbors to a potluck at her place.
“I always remembered people coming together to have a good time on those days. Everyone brought home cooked food to share, and grilled out together. They’d drink whatever fruit wines Aunt Saviana had made, and also bring their own jugs to take some home. My aunt jokingly called me her official taster, but I really wasn’t much of a wine drinker until my 30s,” Julie said.
Drilling Water Wells
Her great aunt died in the 1980s, and Julie went on to obtain three STEM degrees, starting with a BS degree in Mathematics and an MBA from TWU in Denton. She followed with an MS in Geoscience with a focus on hydrogeology from UTA. She started a career with Pioneer Oil Co, at first in their IT department. Then Julie started drilling for water wells. She led a team that drilled brackish water wells to replace fresh water supplies for oil fields in West Texas and the Panhandle.
But Julie never forgot those happy memories of her Great Aunt Saviana and the hospitality she extended to her friends and neighbors. This helped her decide to try her own hand at wine making, with the dream of eventually opening a winery that brought people together.
“Thanks to my STEM background, it was easy to transfer that knowledge to wine making,” she said. “Texas is on its way up and finding its place in the wine world,” she added. “Varietals that grow well in Spain, Italy, and Rhone Valley in France are well suited to Texas with our similar climates.”
Julie did her winemaking internship at the Wedding Oak Winery in San Saba, and says that’s where she learned to appreciate Texas wines. She attained a Texas Winemaker Certification from Texas Tech University.She still works with Wedding Oak, and that’s where Saviana bottles their wines for now. By next year they hope to have their own production facility ready to bring grapes straight to the Cedar Hill winery.
“As a boutique winery,” Julie says, “we now contract with different vineyards.”
Tasting Room Flights
A list of wines from the current Flight List in Saviana’s Tasting Room shows a 2019 Roussanne is from Phillips Vineyard, and a 2019 Albarino hails from Bingham Family Vineyard, both on the Texas High Plains. When possible, Julie says they give preference to Texas wines. The 2019 Rose of Sanglovese and the 2018 Tempranillo is from Wildseed Farms in Texas Hill Country.
The Texas Tempranillo is her favorite wine right now, Julie said. Another red wine she favors is Cartemour, a red blend.
Exciting plans for expansion and for in-house production are in the works, Julie says. They hope to expand their staff as they begin the process of bottling their own wines. She recently hired an experienced chef, Raul Garcia, who has worked with Wolfgang Puck in the past. He’s busy creating delicious small plates, charcuterie, and new flatbreads.
“Chef Raul has already elevated the menu,” Julie said, “and he’s just getting started.”
Saviana Winery Events
Saviana Winery hosts such popular community events as Sip & Paint with a local art studio; Camp Bow Wow; and Cigars and Wine on the Patio in partnership with another local business. They now have over 140 members in their Wine Club, and their current wine selections are the 2019 Trebbiano and 2019 Cartemour. Club members recently held their quarterly Pickup Party on the Patio. The private event also featured food and a chance to meet Chef Raul, plus enjoy music by a guitarist.
Another recent event that proved popular, Julie said, was a spoken word performance by Dead Edgar, featuring a reading from Edgar Allen Poe’s works. Along with hiring more staff members, Julie says she’s actively looking to book more musicians and performing artists for future events at the winery.
Special offers for Thirsty Thursdays at Saviana Winery are $6 glasses and $10 flatbreads. For more information about Saviana Winery, 316 Cooper Street in Cedar Hill, please call 972-908-0013 or visit SavianaWinery.com.