• Image about Bill Easton

The wine industry is full of career changers. Some ease in slowly, and some, like Edward and Madeleine Manigold, jump in feet first. Former school teachers and administrators, Edward and Madeleine met, fell in love, drank a little bit too much wine, and decided in their early 40s that owning a winery would be their shared dream. They soon found, says Edward, that "there's the dream, there's the vision, and then there's the reality."

"Everyone sort of laughed at us," adds Madeleine, for thinking that with no experience they could produce drinkable wines out of the sizzling Texas Hill Country, where only a few brave souls had tried before them. (There are now more than 50 Texas wineries.) But they educated themselves with short courses in California and Bordeaux; kept their day jobs for many years, dipping into savings only for the big expenditures; and worked night and day to achieve their goals.

A dozen years later they have proven that they can make their own wine from their own grapes - 100 percent estate - and have it turn out consistently good, and sometimes great. In 1999, they surprised even themselves when their 1998 Sauvignon Blanc tied in competition with three Grand Reserve Sauvignon Blancs from Kendall-Jackson.

The Manigolds do everything at the 17-acre Spicewood, with just a little help from one consultant, one full-time employee, and part-time workers. Edward runs the vineyard and does the heavy lifting of production, and Madeleine is responsible for the chemistry of winemaking and the books. That leaves little time to travel and market their wines, although as long as Texas law forbids out-of-state wine shipment, advertising is beside the point anyway. For now, 70 percent of their 5,000-case production is sold on the premises of Spicewood.

But the Manigolds, whose winery was located in a "dry" county for wine sales until 2001, are not easily deterred. "We made just a tremendous leap of faith to say, 'You know, we can do this,' " says Madeleine.

And they did.