If there's one thing Lee Foster Fuqua won't get caught doing, it's making Texas plonk. (We call bad wine shee-yit, not plonk, a Texas wine cynic might correct.) But we're not cynical. We have faith that Dallas can be home to wines that won't make the French scream "Disney!" Fuqua, a longtime home winemaker who also made wine at the 35,000-gallon commercial winery at Grayson County College in Ivanhoe among other places, is opening a winery in Dallas, right near Love Field. "It's going to be upscale, high-end Texas wine—the best wines in Texas," he says. "There's plenty of people at the other end of the spectrum, and we don't need any more of that stuff." So where's he setting up shop exactly? In a warehouse, right behind Home Depot on Lemmon Avenue, no doubt with a stunning view of gently rolling asphalt. Ready to peel from the billfold yet?
Fuqua calls his self-funded operation Duckworth Winery, named after his grandfather whom he says was a pioneer in the fruit juice industry. It will open with its first bottling in January. Fuqua claims most of his production will be channeled through a restaurant chain, a country club and a chain of liquor stores—all undisclosed—plus a direct-mail list. Where's Fuqua going to get all of this great fruit 'n' juice? He says he gets first right of refusal on grapes grown by some of Texas' top growers near Lubbock and in the Davis Mountains. He also says he has a California partner—whom he won't name—helping him source fruit from Northern California, as well as Oregon and Washington, each of which he will bottle as a separate line. "And who knows?" he says. "China may come on line. They got a lot of cheap labor there. They could be hand-picking each grape individually as it becomes perfectly ripe...at the Chinese camp slave labor wage."
Fine dining is making its way to Midlothian, at least if chef Richard Mueller has anything to say about it. Mueller, who made his way to Dallas from Huntsville, Ontario, just north of Toronto, has his eyes on a house situated in the Hoblitzelle Camp and Conference Center, a retreat space owned by the Salvation Army, where he works as a banquet chef. Mueller plans to transform the house into an upscale steak, chop and seafood house called The Ranch House, the proceeds from which will help fund the Salvation Army in what will perhaps be the first nonprofit upscale restaurant. The 40-to-50-seat Ranch House, tentatively set to open by April, will have private dining areas and a patio garden. What it won't have is a wine list. "It's the Salvation Army, so it will be a dry restaurant," says Mueller. No BYOB either. "It's pretty gutsy." It's pretty nonprofit too.