Winos and rhinos come together at a new winery and rhino reserve north of San Antonio

Rhinory offers a 'Rhino Experience,' which allows guests to get up close and personal with the animal.

Blake, a 4,000 pound rhino, is the main attraction at Rhinory. - Facebook / Rhinory
Facebook / Rhinory
Blake, a 4,000 pound rhino, is the main attraction at Rhinory.
Rhinory, a winery that opened late last month north of San Antonio, is bringing together winos and rhinos in a Texas Hill Country setting.

The Fredericksburg winery includes both a tasting room and a reserve for Blake, a Southern White Rhino who resides on the 55-acre property. Folks can sip Rhinory’s vino while watching the 4,000-pound animal mosey about the property. The rhino is visible both from the tasting room and a grove of large oak trees next to one of his feed stations and a watering hole.

Blake is on loan from the American Species Survival Plan (SSP) program, which was developed in 1981 by the American Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The SSP works to ensure the survival of threatened or endangered species in zoos, aquariums or specialized preserves such as Rhinory.

“Our lead rhino keeper has 33 years of experience directly with rhinos and is a co-founder of the International Rhino Keeper Association. So, you have to make sure that you, as a business, are a correct fit for an animal like this, you have to have the correct facilities, staff and complete a permitting process through the USDA,” Rhinory co-owner Craig Stevens told the Current. “It’s not like you can wake up one morning and decide you want a rhino. ... The entire process took us about three and a half years.”

SSP programs focus on animals that are near-threatened, threatened, endangered or otherwise in danger of extinction in the wild. When zoology conservationists believe captive breeding programs will aid in a species’ chances of survival, the programs help maintain healthy and genetically diverse animal populations within the accredited zoo community.

Currently, there are 478 species and subspecies with an SSP program.

Rhinory offers a “Rhino Experience,” which allows guests to get up close and personal with the rhino — and maybe even get an opportunity to pet it. All revenue from the $125-per-person experience is donated to the International Rhino Foundation to further rhino conservation worldwide.

Stevens says Rhinory could host up to three more animals on the property, with the addition of a bit more “rhino-proof” fencing.

As far as alcoholic wares, the winery offers nearly 20 varietals, including five that were awarded Judges' Selection rites, the highest award doled out at the TEXSOM International Wine Awards.

Rhinory is open daily from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and is located at 13112 US-290 in Fredericksburg.

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