Deschain Cellars - the funky "little winery that could" - built out of ten decommissioned shipping containers, is the passion project of Kristin Mapstone and Willem Johnson. It’s the culmination of Willem’s lifetime of experience and research in wine, hospitality and engineering. And, it has given Kristin a chance to exercise some offline creativity since so much of her time is spent sitting at a screen running an online marketing company.
Willem and Kristin share a pioneering spirit and couldn’t resist the opportunity to help build the North Texas Wine Country and support the revitalization of downtown Gainesville. When they found this beautiful fully wooded, undeveloped property so conveniently located off US-82, they knew the right time and the right place to start a new adventure had aligned.
A wine and hospitality industry veteran, Willem was the first sommelier hired by Vail Resorts. He spent more than two decades managing their wine program, while also making wine for private club members as the co-owner of Churchill Cellars in Wolcott, Colorado, where he met Kristin when she was visiting Vail. A move to North Texas in 2015 to be with Kristin and her two boys led him to Muenster’s 4R Ranch Vineyards & Winery where he was the founding winemaker until early 2020. His wines have won a host of awards across the US and internationally, and he’s proud to be the first Texas-based winemaker to win a Sweepstake Medal (awarded to the top seven of seven-thousand entries) from The San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, the oldest and most prestigious blind tasting in the country.
The idea of building with used shipping containers - that would otherwise be littering our country - captured Willem’s imagination many years ago. Helping Kristin's son with a science fair project on the insulative capabilities of a Yeti sparked the idea to use some of the same principles to reduce heat transfer with steel shipping containers, essentially making a building-sized cooler to manage cellar temperatures in the Texas heat. Kristin was not "immediately on board" (a Texas sized understatement) with the idea, but once he showed her his design, she decided to give it a shot.
Inspired by Willem’s favorite book, “The Gunslinger” by Stephen King, they originally set out to create a “postapocolyptic old west” interior using recycled materials. This was fun but also challenging given an increasing state of “over budget” resulting from the unexpected nuances of building with shipping containers. As a result, the family has lovingly “handcrafted” many of the interior furnishings. If you are looking around and think, “hey, that table base looks like an $8 Ikea bowl, or “that backsplash looks like a rusty ceiling tile,” you can safely assume you are correct! Although the original design goal morphed into something that can’t quite be labeled, the hope is that you will find this “little winery that could” to be as welcoming as your best friend’s house!
Along with serving up Willem’s award winning wines, the Team Deschain genuinely looks forward to providing each guest with a unique and memorable experience, old school customer service and approachable wine education.
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