Cooley Bay Winery, now in its second year in business, took top honor in the 15th Annual Red River Wine & Beer Festival in Wichita Falls this past weekend.


It was Cooley Bay’s Cherry wine that bested other offerings at this popular wine and beer tasting festival.


Cooley Bay Winery owner Tom Cooley said that there were 31 wineries, including the well-known and much larger Messina Hof and Llano Estacado based in the winery-rich Texas Hill Country, at the festival.


Cooley Bay Winery is located at 292 Cartwright Road, west of U.S. 75, and was rebuilt from a long-ago tornado-destroyed telephone tower station. Busch updated and added to the concrete building, and complimented that his own mid-century yet modern and comfortable design touches to it.


“I was very happy to have Cooley Bay recognized in this way,” said Busch. “We take pride in our wines, and our Cherry wine is one of our bestsellers.”


Busch makes his wines with real Texas fruits, rather than adding fruit flavoring, and that sets Cooley Bay Winery products apart, he said. He created the name, Cooley Bay, because of his love of wine coolers, “which I enjoyed so much when I was younger. I thought, too, if I could use real fruit juice in wine and package it, people would love it.”


It appears he was right. The Cherry wine that won favorite festival wine is also used in his Cherry Lime Wine Cooleys, which are wine coolers with no artificial flavors or colors and served cold and carbonated. The wine coolers are Cooley Bay’s specialty drinks. Busch also produces wines made from blackberries, strawberries, peaches, and cranberry, when in season.


Cooley Bay Winery has also become a popular gathering spot for patrons and wine club members. It hosts live music on the second and fourth Saturdays every month, and Cooley Craft Day is monthly on the first Sundays. Area Chambers of Commerce have been meeting there for their social gatherings, and Busch has hosted other special events, such as last week’s Education Foundation get-together.


“We love hosting events at the winery. We love Texas and we love Van Alstyne,” said Busch.


Thursday nights are ladies nights with half-priced drinks, and for those who don’t drink, Cooley Bay also offers soft drinks and coffee.


The winery is open from 2-9 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, and 2-7 p.m. on Sundays. And more information is available Online at CooleyBay.com