Messina Hof Wine Cellars Inc. is preparing for the grand opening of its first Houston-area location in Richmond, capping a year of delays and pivots. 

The grand opening for Messina Hof Harvest Green Winery & Kitchen will be held later this month, following a soft opening phase throughout February.

Early last year, the Texas-based winery broke ground on its fourth location within Harvest Green, a 1,300-acre “agrihood.” It features a large tasting room and 83-foot wine bar, full-service restaurant, covered patio and two private tasting rooms plus a wine production and barrel room and wine warehouse. As the company's second-largest site, the Harvest Green location also houses all direct-to-consumer shipping operations for Messina Hof.

The restaurant has dubbed the concept for its menu "Vineyard Cuisine," which incorporates Messina Hof wines with locally harvested herbs and vegetables into each dish. Such items include petite sirrah poached pear salad, pork chops with fig agrodolce and seasonal bread pudding, as well as Neapolitan-style pizzas made in a wood-fired pizza oven. 

Messina Hof CEO Paul Bonarrigo and his wife, Director of Administration Karen Bonarrigo, at the groundbreaking of the Harvest Green winery in January 2020.

Messina Hof

CEO and winemaker Paul M. Bonarrigo said that the wine industry is in slow recovery since Covid-19 shuttered many wineries last year. Because Messina Hof's Houston and Bryan locations also have restaurants, Bonarrigo has had an easier time than most wineries, but his locations in Fredericksburg and Grapevine, Texas, had limited food capabilities. He said wine experts believe 15% to 20% of wineries might close due to Covid-19.

Events, which were going to be a major draw at Messina Hof's Harvest Green location, have been pushed back, though Bonarrigo is fielding calls about weddings planned for late 2021 and 2022. 

The new location is just under 12,000 square feet inside and has a 2,600-square-foot patio. The entire winery is expected to hire under 100 employees, more than initially projected. 

“The expansion of our business with the addition of Messina Hof Harvest Green Winery & Kitchen is a continuation of our vision to innovate and grow Texas wine,” Bonarrigo said. “We look forward to inviting new guests and familiar faces alike into our doors and to our tables to experience our top-notch hospitality, innovative Vineyard Cuisine and signature Texas wine.”  

Pearland-based Crane Group was the contractor on the project, while Houston-based Ted Trout Architects was the architecture firm. The Bonarrigos did not use a broker; they worked directly with Houston-based Johnson Development Corp. to secure the space.

Meanwhile, Johnson Development's overall Harvest Green community has been growing quickly. On Feb. 3, Houston-based Allied Orion Group broke ground on a 324-unit luxury multifamily development there. The three-story project, dubbed Granary Flats, is the first multifamily development in the community.

In terms of single-family homes, Harvest Green is one of the fastest-growing master-planned communities in greater Houston. In fact, Harvest Green is entering its last phase of available homes, the community announced Feb. 2.

Harvest Green is best known for having a working farm in the center of the community, which offers residents access to fresh produce. Additionally, Harvest Green offers a recreation center with a resort-style pool, fitness center, event lawn and hall, splash pad, amphitheater and lake.

The project was a finalist for Houston Business Journal’s Landmark Award for residential development in 2019.

During the soft opening phase in February, Messina Hof will be open Monday and Tuesday 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday 11 a.m. to 9 pm, Friday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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