Texas Country reporter visits Homemade WinesHosts explore origin of Odessa winery

John Solla started Homemade Wines with a simple goal as he began a brief retirement.

The Italy native had been making wine for several years, ever since his daughter gave him some wine equipment. He enjoyed making wine, and he would give it to family and friends.

Then, in November 2007, he says he had a happy dream one night about owning a winery. He decided to give it a shot, opening the winery on University Boulevard the following spring.

“My expectation was to do something that I like doing, and make a living doing that,” Solla said. “And I’ve been doing that for the past nine years. I am completely content.”

But building a big company or even opening another location was not the goal. So Solla said he was surprised earlier this month, when someone called from Texas Country Reporter.

A producer of the weekly syndicated TV show wanted to film Solla and Homemade Wines to be among the Texan people and places they showcase.

Hosts Bob and Kelli Phillips visited March 3.

They don’t drink, Solla said, but the couple was interested in learning about the business where he makes some 40 wines and averages a few thousand bottles every month.

His most popular are the sweet fruit wines. But Solla’s favorite is the dry peppery red —  Tavola di Cesare — that he named after his dad.

“My lifelong dream since I’ve been making wine was just to have this place,” Solla said, taking a break from bottling wine for a Monday interview. “I’m somewhat semi retired, and I love what I do, and I love coming to work every day.”

The show also captures Odessans visiting to buy wine by the glass, case, bottle or batch from the business at 4555 E. University Blvd.

Solla works there with his wife, Vicki, his daughter, Tina Pendleton and her husband, manager Brent Pendleton.

The episode of Texas Country Reporter featuring Homemade Wines will air throughout Texas on May 21 (locally the show airs Sundays at 10:30 p.m. on NBC). Then, on May 26, it will air nationally on RFD-TV.

Solla said he doesn’t have hopes or expectations about what the appearance will do for the business.

“I just thought that it was really something to be on the Texas Country Reporter,” Solla said. “I was surprised that they would even know about this little place and that there would be enough interest to do a story.”

But Solla said it would be nice for viewers to imagine something new when they think of Odessa, where he moved as an 18-year-old man.

“That would totally amaze me,” Solla said, “if people in other areas of Texas would think of Odessa’s wine as well as its people and oil.”