First Bite: Messina Hof Harvest Green Winery & Kitchen
Messina Hof Winery officially opened its fourth location on February 26 at master planned community, Harvest Green, at 8921 Harlem in Richmond. Originally founded in Bryan, Texas in 1977, this pioneering winery has been expanding and the newest venture brings Texas wine country hospitality to the Houston suburbs.
The Harvest Green site was chosen because of the availability of land to plant the vineyard as well as the working-farm element of the community, which allows Messina Hof to source fresh herbs, produce and protein for the onsite restaurant at a hyper-local level. The restaurant has a large covered patio, an 83-foot wine bar, a wine shop and two private tasting rooms. In addition, there is a barrel room and wine warehouse. Olive and Italian cypress trees contribute to the wine country feel.
My first visit was late afternoon on a Friday during the soft opening in February. We did not have a reservation and the patio was full, so we took a seat inside. The main dining room has an open floor plan with a casual, airy feel and offers views to both the bar and the kitchen. Bright with warm brown and vibrant green shades, and a large open window to see inside the kitchen, we speculated that it probably had a different feel after dark. After sitting down, we learned that tasting flights are only available at the bar, while glasses and bottles are available in the dining room and on the patio.
The lunch menu was still available when we arrived, and it offered many choices such as soup and salad, charcuterie, sandwiches, and Neapolitan pizzas cooked in a wood-fired oven. The majority of lunch items are in the $12 to$16 range with a few pricier items like the Garlic Butter Basted Texas Gulf Shrimp and the Grilled Sirloin offered at $22 and $24, respectively.
We decided to share a meat-laden Douglas Pizza to start. It comes with spicy italian sausage, salami and pepperoni with Calabrian pepper oil, San Marzano tomato sauce and basil and opted for a bottle of the Estate Sagrantino wine — a premium choice at $75. The wine list is composed exclusively of Messina Hof wines, but there’s a variety of styles, grape varieties and prices, which enables guests to make each visit different. By-the-glass wines start at $6 while bottles can be had for as little as $25. Messina Hof Wine Club members receive discounts on all wine purchases. Fans of the winery can sign up online to receive the discount with three, six or a dozen bottles options along with other perks.
We ordered the Harvest Green Burger next which is a blend of short rib, brisket and chuck with butter lettuce, Cabernet Sauvignon garlic aioli, hothouse tomatoes, red onion and havarti cheese on a challah bun, served with a choice of housemade chips or fries. This was juicy, delicious and a heartier portion than anticipated, so we ended up not having dessert. We looked over the other menus while we finished our wine and decided to make a brunch reservation that Sunday.
For our return trip, we arrived before noon for a reserved seat on the patio. We started with a Breakfast Bread Basket. A mix of chef-selected breads and pastries, ours contained two croissants along with both a cherry and lemon pastry. As it was a warm and sunny morning, we ordered a chilled bottle of the Grenache Dry Rosé to enjoy with our meal. It was a refreshing steal at only $19. There were some sparkling options that we considered as well. Brunch entrées ranged from $14 for the Chicken and Waffles or Frittata to $17 for the Smoked Salmon Toast.
For my meal, I chose the Messina Hof Benedict, which is cheddar pepper biscuits topped with poached eggs, prosciutto and Cajun Sauvignon Blanc hollandaise. This is a tasty interpretation of a classic. I got so engaged I forgot to photograph or even try my husband’s more basic breakfast called the Twisted Classic. He did rave about the quality of the Duroc bacon and the flavorful wine-infused preserves.
Our server shared that the owners are continuing to expand the property. More vines are going into the adjacent field, and some additional landscaping is planned, which will improve the outer aesthetic. The patio does boast a full cover with ample space between tables and seemed to be the guests’ top choice for seating.
I returned again for brunch last Sunday and found Messina Hof in full swing. A larger menu is now available, but the bread basket was no longer listed. Our server said the menu was still being tweaked and it may return. My husband had the Waffle Fried Chicken Sandwich, subbing the chips for hash browns. I wanted the Sunrise Pie, a breakfast pizza, but it was unavailable that day so I opted for the Farm Omelet, made with spinach, bacon, Gruyere, herbs, avocado, and is accompanied by micro-cilantro with lime chardonnay vinaigrette and potato hash. I am a believer in trying everything as prepared the first time I eat it, but in the future, I would request that the omelet be less browned.
This new endeavor from one of the first families of Texas wine is a fantastic addition to the Richmond area. We enjoyed everything we ordered on each trip, thought the prices were very reasonable and found the service to be friendly and efficient. We will definitely be returning soon to try dinner next.
Located off the Grand Parkway, this Richmond venue is easily accessible to residents of both Sugar Land and Katy, and frequent visitors may want to consider the benefits of joining the club. The fresh, farm-to-table, vineyard cuisine sourced only from top Texas producers or grown directly onsite, paired with the all-Texas wine list makes this destination-worthy.
Messina Hof Harvest Green Winery & Kitchen’s restaurant and tasting room are open for brunch, lunch and dinner Monday and Tuesday from 4 to 9 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Reservations are recommended; call (346) 292-9463.