Chapter 9
Wineries
The Tales of Texas

1a - The Mysterious Ski Rack
1b - Wheres the Other Half of That Moose
1c - The Waiter Who Didnt Yall
1d - Scorpions, Scorpio
2a - Diet Soda
2b - Riding into the Sunrise
3 - Modest Magazines
4 - Down to Houston
5a - What Does That Sign Say
5b - Just Follow Your Nose
5c - They Call It the Sunbelt
5d - The State Tree
6 - The New House
7a - Billboards
7b - Billboards Again
8 - Stereo Upgrade
9 - Wineries
10 - Unintentionally Left Blank
11 - CBW in TX
12 - Ice House Radio
13 - Goats and Cotton
14 - Dig We Must
15 - Dan Moody
16 - Dry Heat
17 - Dead Animals
18a - Bookstore Culture
18b - On the Open Road
19 - Weather
20 - Sightings in Bertram and Buchanan
21 - Too Many Birds
22 - Road Hazards
23 - Sightings to and from Houston
24 - The Great Wall of Train
25 - In the Heat of the Day
26 - Bite Me
27 - Bid on This Skeleton
28 - Willie
29 - Rural Countryside
30 - SUV SUX!
31 - Kinky on the Texas Monthly Hour
32 - Strange Yellow Sky
33 - Football is a Serious Enterprise in Texas
34 - Remember the Alamoo!
35 - What's That on the Radio
36 - Trip to Houston through the small towns
37 - Shoe Story, an Austin Anecdote
38 - Unintended Fireworks
39 - Flash Flood Warning
40 - Sin City
41 - Live music in Austin, but in theaters not in clubs
42 - Fear of Overpass
43 - The Big Sneezy
44 - New Texas
45 - Front Ended by the French Fry Mobile
46 - Dirt Farm
47a - Heard at the Texas Book Festival 2008
48a - Texas Book Festival 2009
49 - Central Time Sucks
50 - Temple Texas
51 - Christmas in Austin
52 - Pennants in the Wind
53 - The Road Less Traveled
54 - Texas-size Thunderstorm
55 - Cool Van
56 - Your New House Is That-A-Way
57 - C.S.I. Austin
58 - New MTV Game Show
59 - Equine Technology
60 - Look at That Prairie
61 - Get Your Water Here
62 - Corporate Anniversaries
63 - College Sprawl
64 - Hire These Guys
65 - Preparing for Winter
66 - Careful What You Overhear
67 - Bonnie Raitt
68 - Perfume
69 - Questionable Skills
70 - All-American Day
71 - Read Me
72 - Weird Fog
73 - Overpackaged Food
74 - What Town Was That
75 - Texas Book Festival 2010
76 - Bulletproof Roof
77 - The Oldest Photo
78 - Cheesesteaks Part 1
79 - Cheesesteaks Part 2

Wineries

July 2000

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.