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A Master of Wine Passes Judgement on a Texas Wine


John Salvi, MW speaks with Ron Yates in the winery at Ron Yates Vineyards

by Andrew Chalk


The 2019 Texas International Wine Competition held a judges’ tour at Ron Yates Wines. One of the judges was John Salvi, Master of Wine (MW), a venerated elder who earned the MW in 1970 (becoming one of only 20 in the world at that time). Other judges around Salvi warned Yates that “he may not drink anything”.


Salvi, however, was impressed by the barrel makers that Yates used. “These are my neighbors” said the Bordeaux native of over 50 years. Yates mentally thanked his winemaker, Todd Crowell, for being so obsessed with quality barrels.


Salvi decided to taste the 2018 Viognier and an interesting conversation ensued:


Salvi: “You grew this?”


Yates: “Well, our neighbors about an hour north of here grew it”.


Salvi: “In Texas? You grew this here?”


Yates: “Yes”


Salvi flipped his cane and it magically became a chair. He sat down, handed Yates a glass and said “Something else”. Ron gave him the 2018 Touriga Nacional. It blew Salvi away. Then the 2017 Tempranillo from barrel. Salvi was again impressed. He invited Yates and Crowell to Bordeaux to meet the winemakers. Yates accepted on behalf of both of them on the spot.


The entourage surrounding Salvi confided with Ron “He does not dole out compliments very often”.


Wind forward to January 2020 and the 2020 Texas International Wine Competition. At the judges reception Yates said hi, and Salvi confirmed ‘We’re going to your winery, right?” Ron assured him they were.


Ron offered Salvi the 2019 Merlot and 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon. Salvi pronounced the Merlot the best wine he had tasted all week. Ron said “Well, you have tasted 1500 wines”. “No”, said Salvi. “This is the best wine I have tasted all week”. He tasted the Cabernet Sauvignon as well and said “That is all I need to try”.


A couple of weeks later, competition organizer Bonnie Villacampa emailed Yates and told him that Salvi had written up Ron Yates’ wines in the Spanish wine magazine ‘la semana vitivinícola’

From "Texas International Wine Competition 2020 Buda Texas

by John Salvi, MW in 'La Semana Vitivinícola’.



Ron Yates in his estate vineyard


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About Me

Andrew Chalk is a Dallas-based author who writes about wine, spirits, beer, food, restaurants, wineries and destinations all over the world.

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