Yes, wine in Texas
Here we were with the long July 4th weekend upon us, and no plans. Ms. T. consulted the papers for diversions. Movies? Well, . . . . Music? Well, . . . . Here's one: Special Wine Tasting at Fall Creek Vineyard. Is that nearby? Quick, consult the web for the address and the map CD for route. Yes, in fact, it is actually close by: 30 miles of good road then 20 miles of bad. By Texas standards, practically next door.
Digression: There is a significant wine business in Texas, believe it or not. You may have read about it. If you have passed thru DFW in recent years, you may have seen a tasting room in one of the terminals. You may even have seen bottles in stores or on wine lists. My brother tried to get into the retail end of the Texas wine biz some years ago, so we may be a little more sensitive to the signs than others, but signs there are. There are a couple wineries in this neighborhood, even, which we have not been to yet, and we've passed by four others on our way to or from somewhere. A veritable hotbed of viticulture, viniculture, zymurgy, and oenology. (Gawd, I love it when you talk dirty like that!) End of digression.
Off we go to the Fall Creek Vineyards "Burgers & Blues" tasting that Sunday. Sure enough, in the courtyard of the winery, there is a grill, tables, and music. The last of these came from a very young jazz pianist & singer who was pretty good. The grill produced Bambi-burgers (venison) that were not bad, either. And inside, the tasting room produced wines that were really very good. (We bought a mixed case of four wines: sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, and Johannesburg riesling. Specifics, ratings, and notes will appear in Rick's Picks on Rick's Wines and Whines, http://www.ricksoft.com in the near future.)
Speaking of wine web sites, at the tasting, we met Sarah Jane English, also of Austin (and of http://www.sarahjanewineandfood.com/), a *real* wine writer, the kind who writes books, travels, and lectures. And, judging from the restaurant reviews in her newsletter, she is the level of wine writer who gets entertained on the expense accounts of winery owners. Way out of my league to be sure.
After having our fill of vino, salads, and Bambi-burgers, we went on to Spicewood Vineyards, which was another thirty miles, but sort of back toward Austin. It was late Sunday afternoon. We had no idea if they were open or not, but what the heck. Nothing better to do than drive some more bad roads.
Spicewood turns out to be a lovely place. It's sort of a mom-and-pop operation that got out of hand. I think they would agree with that assessment, too. It was supposed to be retirement and fun, not "twelve hours, seven days" as they have found out. They read all the books, "well, at least all the success stories, and it sounded like fun." First year it's one acre. Five years later, it's seventeen acres, four tanks, fifty barrels, two gardeners, two kids, too much like real work. The owners are lovely people, hospitable to beat the band; they deserve better.
One odd thing: the winery is in a dry district, so they can't sell in the winery. Seems a near-fatal flaw for a tasting room. BTW, their sauvignon blanc was dandy.
One last thing: the season down here is early, very early, because of the heat. Consequently, the crush is also early. It is predicted to be the second week of August this year. By comparison, Napa usually picks in the middle to end of September. So we will be going back soon.
Copyright (C) 2000, 2001, 2002, Richard Landau. All rights reserved.