Chace Hill’s family has a history of farming sheep, cotton, and peanuts in Levelland since 1918. Hill introduced the High Plains’ most recent profitable crop—wine grapes—in 2002, planting 5 acres on the land.
Now, the humble fruit’s impact has grown to 58 acres; 11 varietals; and a lovely new winery and bistro, Burklee Hill Vineyards, in downtown Lubbock, 30 miles east of Levelland.
Located in a beautifully renovated 1930s Kress department store building, the winery opened in March 2020, and serves about a dozen of the vineyard’s wines, ranging from Moscato to zinfandel to the 2019 reserve tempranillo, which won a double gold medal and best-of-class award from the San Francisco Chronicle’s wine competition earlier this year. To complement the palatable, sophisticated wines is an expertly executed menu of sandwiches, salads, pizzas, and shareable plates.
Hill says most recipes on the menu are his, from the pizza dough he crafts from scratch to the charcuterie meats he cures in-house.
“My wife and I travel to eat,” he explains about the culinary passion he shares with business partner and wife, Elizabeth Hill, an appellate attorney in Lubbock. “I’m a farmer but I love to cook, too. My sister Kaili is a San Francisco chef who studied at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, and she’s a huge help to us.”
Aside from the wine and food, the location makes Burklee Hill an exceptional place to visit. Moving into the old Kress store, which operated there from 1932 to 1975, is part of the city of Lubbock’s initiative to preserve and repurpose the charming historic buildings in the downtown area.
The winery maintains the period look of the interior—which underwent a two-year renovation—with intricate crown molding, wainscoting, and soaring windows that allow natural light to flood in. Although the building suffered flood damage with old pipes breaking over the winter, Hill lovingly restored the original wood flooring.
Now that crowds are coming for lunch, happy hour, dinner, and brunch—and sticking around for live music in the evenings—the Hills are already planning an expansion. They acquired a nearby building where they’ll brew their own beers. Burklee Brew should be open by football season.
“It’s all turned into something bigger than we’d planned,” Hill says.