Inside Houston's Black Family-Owned Winery, Erma Rose

Travel Noire | November 9, 2020 | Link to Article

Sometimes your passion is born from love and sometimes it is born out of necessity. For Houston native and disabled United States Marine veteran, Jennifer Prothow, winemaking was the one constant that helped her in her struggle with PTSD.

After serving the country from 2005-2010, she found the struggle to be heavy at times. It was so bad that she often didn’t want to leave her house or socialize with others.

“My therapist suggested that I find a hobby to help with the PTSD,” Jennifer Prothrow, co-owner of Erma Rose Winery told Travel Noire. “I tried baking and a few other things, but it didn’t work. I started making wines and just really enjoyed it.”

She honed in on her skills, and started allowing close friends and family members to try her unique fruit based wines. They were such a hit, that her father suggested she turn her new found love into a business.

Sadly, the day before her first official tasting, her father passed away from a heart attack.

“That was in April 2017. I took time away from winemaking to grieve and to make sure my mom and family were okay.”

Seeing just how much winemaking helped Jennifer overcome her PTSD, her mother suggested that they work to get the business up and running again. In March 2018, Jennifer, her mother Andrea and brother Malcolm, officially opened Erma Rose Winery.

Erma Rose, is named after Prothrow’s maternal and paternal grandmothers. Her father’s mother passed away just six months after her father, because she was simply heartbroken from losing her child.

Despite the back-to-back deaths, the Prothrows persevered and now have a beautiful winery in scenic Katy, Texas— just outside of Houston.

“I really wanted that country feel for my winery,” Prothrow explained. “I didn’t want an urban winery in the city. The Katy community has been very welcoming.”

Prothrow brainstorms and creates all of the wines featured. She has a unique process where she uses fresh frozen fruits, rather than the traditional grapes. So, you won’t find a cabernet or pinot on the menu.

What you will find are 11 wines that use a combination of fruits such as strawberries, bananas, mangos, blueberries, and more. Once the fruit blend is created, Prothrow and her cousin then decide on a name.

“I have a blend called the Fighting Condor which is named after my unit. It is made with strawberries and banana. We honestly just come up with random names.”

There are currently two tasting options at Erma Rose. For $12 you can taste all 11 wines on the menu. For only $5, you can select 4 wines to taste. The menu will continue to grow as the business grows.

As of now, the indoor tasting room is limited to 50% capacity. However, the outdoor space can host more people and tables are distanced at 6-feet apart. There is also live music on the weekends.

Erma Rose Winery is located at 3130 Katy Hockley Cut Off Rd. in Katy. Hours of operation are: Wed. and Thurs. 1p -9p, Fri. and Sat. 1p -10p, and Sun. 1p – 8p. To learn more about the wines featured or to purchase a bottle, you can visit the website: www.ermarosewinery.com. You can also follow on Instagram at: @ermarosewinery.