Winemaker Michael Hasler pours passionfruit Extra Hard Mixer over ice for customer Jennifer Merlick. He will finish the drink by mixing it with orange juice and Champagne for a delightful summer drink at Decadent Saint, the Bertram winery he owns with wife Carolee Corey. Staff photo by Alecia Ormsby

Decadent Saint winery in high spirits for summer season

Michael Hasler puts a new twist on winemaking in the Highland Lakes of Burnet County. His enthusiasm and passion are poured into the Extra Hard Mixers he produces at Decadent Saint, the winery he owns with wife Carolee Corey at 3547 Texas 29 West in Bertram.  

“It’s often hard to describe what our mixers are,” Michael said. “We are a new category unto ourselves.” 

The Extra Hard Mixers are 20 percent alcohol and can be blended with wine, beer, other hard alcohol, or just water. 

“We could call it a liquor concentrate,” he added.

Drink additions are a flavorful blend of fresh fruits, wine, spices, and neutral wine spirits, combined in the Haslers’ secret recipe. Neutral wine spirits are made from grape residue during wine production, after the grapes have been pressed.

Current mixer flavors are raspberry, passionfruit, black currant, and spiced dark chocolate for an endless combination of mixed drinks, sangrias, spritzers, or sparkler recipes found on the Decadent Saint website.

And then, there’s Decadent Mud, an alcoholic chocolate dipping sauce in plain and mint. It, too, has many uses, including as an ice cream topping, a glaze for cakes, or a charcuterie board addition.

Wine production has not yet begun at the Bertram business, but its 2013 cabernet and Syrah reserve wines are available for purchase, produced at the Haslers’ former winery in Boulder, Colorado. They stock a house red and white wine, ginger beers, Champagne, and sparkling water for combining with the mixers.

Born and educated in Australia, Michael is a graduate of Charles Sturt University, where he earned a degree in wine science. He went on to work and consult at vineyards and wineries in Australia, New Zealand, France, California, and Boulder, where Decadent Saint was born.

One of the highlights of his career was working at Château Pétrus in France, known for making some of the best-tasting and most expensive wines in the world. 

“For me, it is associated with such an amazing thing and one of the peak experiences of my life,” Michael said. 

The first generation of Decadent Saint mixers was created in Boulder in 2013 with a mulled wine that is now Hasler’s spiced dark chocolate mixer. Michael and Carolee moved to fruit-specific liquors, developing a white wine passionfruit with citrus, fresh mint, ginger, and neutral wine spirits. The black currant mixer makes an amazing sangria.

The pandemic hit when Decadent Saint was still in Colorado, where orders dried up as people stopped dining in restaurants. 

“But the wine trail never really closed down in the Texas Hill Country,” Michael said. “We came down to Texas and found that it has the second-largest wine trail in the country. People love their wine here, but we had no idea of how popular it was.”

They purchased the Bertram property in March 2021 and opened for business in October.

Michael and Carolee say they have found their piece of paradise with all of the things to do and places to eat in the Highland Lakes of Burnet County. 

“We love our redirection in Texas,” Michael said. “We’re very, very grateful that we are a business that came through after the shutdown. We feel very fortunate.”

The winery itself is a peaceful venue on 25 acres in Burnet County. 

“Unlike typical wineries, we have all kinds of cooling drinks, mister fans, shade, and AC inside!” Carolee said.

Also on the property are peach, plum, and pear trees, mint, basil, and spices. Chickens and bees in a hive populate the campus. 

Of the many choices of Burnet County vacation activities, a visit to Decadent Saint is a unique attraction.

“We feel that Texas is the place to be,” Michael said. “We have been so welcomed. It feels like home here!”

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