Category Archives: Events

Dinner in the Vines – Lost Oak Winery

Lost Oak Winery in Burleson held their first ever wine club member exclusive Dinner in the Vines Friday night. This event intrigued me when I saw the posting and I was very excited to purchase our tickets so Shelly and I could attend. The menu sounded wonderful, the venue I knew to be perfection, and the weather truly cooperated in the end. We arrived at the winery a little early, so we stopped by the tasting room and I purchased a glass of Shiraz that I love and Shelly purchased a glass of Mosaic. We made our way to the vineyard where the tables had been set up between the rows of Black Spanish grapes. A table of cheeses and meat had been prepared for us to nibble on as we arrived and the wonderfully talented musician, Dave Lincoln, was set up and began to play.


A birthday party had purchased about half of the 30 tickets so they sat at one end of the tables while the rest of us sat on the other end and Gene and Judy were seated in the middle. That was a perfect arrangement as the party could continue as they wanted and we could visit with each other and not intrude.


Ashley Babatov, the events coordinator and “hostess” for this event, made the introductions of Gene and Judy Estes and the evening began with the salad course. The salad was mixed greens and sliced avocados with a refreshing orange vinaigrette dressing. This was paired perfectly with the newly released Sauvignon Blanc. This vintage is actually my first experience with Sauvignon Blanc. I was able to participate in the harvest back in July or August and it was gorgeous fruit, tight and full on the clusters. Gene gave a brief introduction of the wine and explained that it came from Burning Daylight Vineyard not very far from the winery. I really didn’t find the flavor to be overly characteristically grassy like I’ve heard Sauvignon Blanc can be. It was refreshingly and delightfully crisp and did not compete with the orange vinaigrette at all.


The next course was a wine braised brisket with cheddar polenta and roasted broccoli. The brisket had a fantastic flavor and was exquisitely tender. The cheddar polenta was a unique and delicious change of pace from the normal and typical mashed potatoes and I just love broccoli any way it comes. This was paired with the current vintage of estate Shiraz, which is the wine that I had began my evening with and I still had a little bit in my glass. Gene let us know that this vintage of the estate Shiraz was from a very successful harvest.


Before we were served dessert, we were given a very special treat. We all were able to be the first to try the not-yet-released High Plains Texas grown Bingham Family Vineyards 2014 Viognier. The current release is the 2013 Viognier made with California fruit as that was a treacherous year for Texas grapes due to numerous post-bud-break freezes and hail storms that decimated harvests across the state. We were all very excited to be given the opportunity to try this new wine and pleased with how it is tasting.

It was at this time that the sunset became the most beautiful and the colors so vivid. The temperature was very comfortable in the low 70s when we arrived, but as the sun set it did begin to lower into the up 60s. I was glad I wore a sweater and brought a vest. Luckily the winds remained light, with only gentle breezes.

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The final dish to arrive was a flourless chocolate cake with warm black cherry sauce. This was paired with the ever popular Dark Obsession port-style wine. The ooos and aaahhs up and down the table as we each put the first bites into our mouths was almost comical.


Throughout the evening Dave Lincoln entertained us with his beautiful guitar playing skills. He had played in the cellar room a few months ago and we really enjoyed him then and we were thrilled to see that he had been included in this evening as well. A guest joined him and sang a few songs as we finished up the event. We had a thoroughly enjoyable evening eating delicious food, drinking fabulous wines, visiting with new friends around us, and listening to Gene and Judy regale us with the adventures of being in the wine business.


It was a great first event and I’ve already told Ashley to put us down for the next one!!

The caterer for this event was Fort Worth based All In Good Taste Catering.

Ashley’s very wonderful servers for the evening were Lindsay Walraven, Madison Goodwin, Tyrel McCory, and Mitchell McDowell.



Battle of the Texas Tempranillos

November 8, 2014…Houston, Texas

Battle? Smack down? War? Beating?

The third Texas Wine Lover’s “Battle of the Texas Wine” was determined back in May to be the Battle of the Texas Tempranillos. Wineries across Texas were invited to participate in this event which would pit Texas Tempranillo against Texas Tempranillo. Twenty-eight wineries across the state eagerly accepted and offered their finest bottle. The requirements for this smack down were simple: the wine had to be at least 75% Texas Tempranillo and had to be readily or soon to be readily available. Several other wineries would love to have participated, but they did not have a wine readily available at this time. In order to participate, one even winery pulled a couple of cases of their wine out of their library hold to make available. Now that is dedication to this event!

While the wines were being accumulated, the decision for who would be judges was determined. I like how Jeff invites a variety of levels of participation. In the mix of 15 judges were winery owners, winemakers, blog writers, sommeliers, grape growers, and wine enthusiasts. The date was finalized for November 8 and the location would be at the NICE Winery in Houston where the Battle of the Texas Roussannes was held last July. This is a great venue with enough room to hold everybody and not be tight or crowded.

With all these details set, we waited for the event to come up next on our calendar. When it did, The Boy got to have his gramma/grampa visit and Shelly and I loaded the car and headed south to Houston. We arrived in plenty of time to enjoy lunch in the vicinity of NICE Winery and relax for a bit before we got down to business.

The winery is located in an industrial business park and seems to be an odd site, but when you open the door and step inside you are transported to what feels like someone’s luscious home. Bookcases flank a large stone fireplace on one wall where large couches and a coffee table would normally be arranged in front of it. A wet bar is at the back of the room and a hall takes you to the restrooms and the bedrooms, I mean offices. The kitchen area is located on the other side of the bar down another hall. Overall, it easily offers the illusion of someone’s home.

As we entered we saw some of the other judges had already begun arriving and were visiting with each other. Of course Jeff Cope and Gloria Schlanser, original Texas Wine Lover bloggers; Jeremy Wilson, Texas Wine Lover correspondent and Sommelier; and Rebecca Marmaduke, new Texas Wine Lover correspondent and also a Sommelier, and her husband Ben were all busy putting on various finishing touches. Ryan Levy, owner/winemaker of NICE Winery was also putting on finishing touches for a wine dinner that was to be held after we were finished. I also saw Mike Batek, owner of Hye Meadow Winery in Hye, and Bob Landon, owner and winemaker at Landon Winery in McKinney and Garland. Not being one to pass up a hug, I approached both gentlemen and greeted them and got wonderful hugs! I LOVE this industry!!! Soon Bill and Gail Day, grape growers with Buena Suerte Vineyards in the High Plains, arrived followed by Sergio Cuadra, winemaker at Fall Creek Vineyards in Tow, then Marta Lastowska winemaker at Haak Vineyards and Winery in Santa Fe. Jerry and Gail Levy, Ryan’s parents and fellow wine lovers and wine industry supporters, and Jarrett Buffington and James Watkins, Houston area Sommeliers, rounded out the field of judges.

Photo courtesy Jeff Cope,

Since Ryan had a wine dinner almost immediately following our Tempranillo tasting, he and Jeremy began pouring the first flight of three wines as we continued assembling and greeting each other.


All of the bottles had been painstakingly wrapped in brown paper bags so as to hide any and all identifiers.


We found out at that time that there would be 28 wines tasted in flights of threes. Scoring sheets and pens were provided along with blank paper for personal notes.


The scoring would be similar to the Battle of Texas Roussannes that we attended last July. Each wine would be scored with a number grade. There was also a block where notes were encouraged. Each flight would last 5 minutes, an opaque cup was provided to spit and dump, and pairings of crackers, meats, and cheeses were available to cleanse our palettes as needed. Discussion during the flights was discouraged, but that’s ok because there wasn’t much time to talk, taste, and spit anyway. Everyone took the task at hand very seriously.

As I began tasting and spitting the first couple of flights it became clear to me that I was not getting the “whole” picture. I was finding that by spitting out the wine that was in my mouth I was lacking the finish that I enjoyed so much in a good Tempranillo. I decided that I would go ahead and swallow the taste, but not drink what was poured in my glass. I was there to judge the wines, but I was going to enjoy doing it as well! After that I was able to give more honest opinions about the wines. I find it very interesting that while there were 28 wines made from the same grape by 28 different people each and every one was different. Some were very different. Some were fruit forward, some were smoky, and some were spicy. Some I liked. Some I liked a lot! Some I didn’t like at all. I wish I had kept better personal notes so I would know which ones to go add to my collection.

These are all 28 contenders…

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These are the top three…

Photo courtesy Jeff Cope,
Photo courtesy Jeff Cope,

1st: Lost Draw Cellars, Tempranillo 2012, Texas High Plains, $36

2nd: Brushy Creek Vineyards and Winery, Tempranillo 2012, Rush Creek Vineyards, $34.99

3rd: Bending Branch Winery, Tempranillo 2011, Newsom Vineyards, $40

I’m not going to repeat information that you can get better from the gang at Texas Wine Lover, but I hope I could convey the process that we went through to arrive at the conclusion. It was a privilege and an honor to be invited and included in such a prestigious group of judges.

Photo courtesy Jeff Cope,



Crawfish Boil…Texas Legato-style

Several months ago, back in the spring, Shelly and I bought tickets for Texas Legato’s Crawfish Boil while we were at the winery helping owners Bill and Sulynn Bledsoe take care of some spring chores, including putting up hardware mesh to try and deter the swallows from nesting under the eaves of their new covered winery patio addition. I also made reservations at The Inn at Lampasas for that night so now it was just a matter of turning the pages of the calendar.

Usually on the Friday before we go to the Hill Country, we head down to my parent’s place just outside of Brownwood so we can drop off our 16 yo son. Saturday morning we get up, have a great breakfast made by my daddy, then Shelly and I load up and head south towards wine country. This was finally the weekend to go down the road to Lampasas to Texas Legato, one of our very favorite wineries, for their Crawfish Boil.

Texas Legato
Texas Legato

We arrived early in the day so we could lend a hand helping in getting whatever else needed to be done…well…done. We found Bill and Sulynn’s daughter, Rebecca Petty, and Sulynn’s sister-in-law, Kenna Elliott, setting up the wine-a-rita machine and outside wine sales counter. After greetings and quick hugs we jumped in and got busy helping out where needed. Shelly helped Bill set up awnings and tents while I grabbed a rag and began wiping down tables and chairs. Much of the big work had been done the day before, but we did help with the finishing touches. This was the first event to be held on the winery’s new covered patio addition.

Texas Legato covered patio addition- photo by Keith George

When we were there two weeks ago I walked down some of the rows of grapevines as the leaves were just beginning to break. It was a glorious sight!

Malbec at Texas Legato
Malbec at Texas Legato

I walked the same rows this trip and was amazed at the rate of growth. The cool part was seeing the tiny clusters of grapes already set. I found myself praying for their safety as I walked up and down the rows.

Malbec Texas Legato
Malbec at Texas Legato

Pretty soon it was time to head to the hotel to check in and get changed for the Crawfish Boil.

When we returned other guests were beginning to arrive and the party was ready to start. We checked in and got our wristbands, a blue band  for crawfish for Shelly and a yellow band for pork roast for me, and our drink tickets. We made our way over to where Rebecca had the outside wine sales set up and we got our first of two ticketed drinks.

Aerial shot of Texas Legato from Keith George's drone
Aerial shot of Texas Legato-photo courtesy of  Keith George’s drone

The band Dr. Zog, a fantastic Zydeco party band out of Austin, was setting up at the end of the new patio and soon they were playing and had everybody’s toes tapping and people dancing!

Dr Zog at Texas Legato
Dr Zog at Texas Legato-photo courtesy of Keith George

The first dump of crawfish was made on the table and there was my husband in with the first wave. I made myself comfortable in a rocking chair on the patio and enjoyed people watching. Soon Mrs. Bledsoe, Bill’s mother, brought her dinner plate and sat in the matching rocking chair and we chatted about what a good time everyone was having. The pork roast was delicious. There was one kind stuffed with a mushroom mixture and another one stuffed with jalapenos and cream cheese. I had the jalapeno one with some white rice. For dessert Sulynn had made bread pudding with and without raisins and with and without a luscious whiskey sauce!

Texas Legato guests enjoying the first dump of crawfish
Texas Legato guests enjoying the first dump of crawfish-photo courtesy of Keith George

The bluebonnets were plentiful and people were taking their pictures in the blanket of blue. There were groups playing horseshoes, some playing washers, and some playing redneck golf when the wind wasn’t blowing the balls off course. The band had people dancing and there was lots of talking and laughter. All the tables were full of happy diners and people milling around drinking their wine and wine-a-ritas and visiting with friends new and old. More buckets of crawfish, corn on the cob, potatoes, and sausage were dumped on the table throughout the evening. After a while the pile didn’t dwindle down as fast as it had earlier in the evening.

Texas Legato-photo courtesy of Keith George
Texas Legato-photo courtesy of Keith George
Texas Legato Crawfish Boil-photo courtesy of Keith George
Texas Legato Crawfish Boil-photo courtesy of Keith George

The weather was very cooperative for a spring day and evening in the northern part of the Texas Hill Country and Bill and Sulynn could not have scripted a more perfect event!

Mark your calendars and make plans to attend next year’s event…April 18, 2015!!! Hope to see you then!

Huge thanks to Keith George for allowing me access to his portfolio of beautiful pictures. He also has some fantastic videos from his drone!! To see more Texas Legato Crawfish Boil photos please visit my source:

Texas wines under Texas stars

In Texas it is not unheard of to plan an evening outside under the stars…in NOVEMBER!! Lost Oak Winery is doing just that. Next Thursday, November 21st from 7:00-9:00pm, Lost Oak Winery and Vintage Lane Wines will be joining together under the stars at Old Texas Brewing Skybar in Old Town Burleson for a wine pairing dinner.

The evening will begin with a meet and greet at 7:00 with a with choice of a glass of wine: Lost Oak Winery’s Tempranillo or Dolce Rouge or Vintage Lane Wines’ Dawson, Roxy, Frizzante, or Hummingbird.

An appetizer of sausage and cheddar cheese paired with Vintage Lane Roxy will begin the first stage of dining. A Strawberry Spring Salad will follow paired with Vintage Lane Hummingbird. The entrée will be a 1/2 Rack of Ribs served with mixed steamed vegetables and BBQ beans served with Vintage Lane Dawson Red. The final course…dessert!!…will consist of Red Velvet Cheesecake paired with Dolce Rouge.
Tickets are $40 a person. Lost Oak Wine Club Members tickets are $35!!
Guests must RSVP and pre-pay with Old Texas Brewing Company. I hope to see you there!

For more information, please go to Lost Oak Winery’s Calendar page

Battle of the Texas Roussannes

On a Saturday in July, Shelly and I travelled down to Houston and found ourselves among some pretty interesting members of the Texas wine industry: vineyard owners, wine makers, wine educators, sommeliers, chefs, wine bloggers, and fellow wine lovers. We were all invited to the NICE Winery by wine bloggers Jeff Cope and his fiancée Gloria Schlanser for one reason, this time…to participate in a wine smackdown! Well, actually a Battle of the Texas Roussannes. I have tasted a few Roussannes on our Texas wine travels. All I knew about it was it’s a white wine grape that is proving to be a decent variety for Texas. I further learned that night that it does very well in the Texas High Plains due to its late bud break and its affinity for the warm sunny days and somewhat cool nights.

Disclaimer: Shelly and I are not huge white wine fans. We are still trying to find a white that we can claim as one we really like. The Roussanne is on the fringe of this claim. It is dry, crisp, tropically-fruity, and a little earthy.

This tasting would be conducted “blind.” That is to say that the whole bottle would be hidden in a paper sack and the sack would have only a number on it. There were 17 bottles that had been purchased from wineries or various retail outlets. It was explained to us that we would be judging two glasses at a time and we were given a quick lesson on the scoring system on the score sheet. There were plates of cheeses, crackers, and grapes and glasses of water to cleanse our palates between flights. It was suggested that a time limit of 5 minutes would be used for each flight in order to keep things moving along. Due to the number of people participating (19), a 1-ounce measured pourer was used to insure there would be enough of each wine to go around.


As the tastings proceeded I found some tastes that I liked and some I did not. It still amazes me that the same grape is really not the same over all. Where it is grown, how it is handled, and what the wine maker does with it all have influences on the final product.

After the tasting was complete Jeff unbagged the bottles as we called out our scores. The wines being judged turned out to be from Becker Vineyards, McPherson Cellars, Brennan Vineyards, Blue Ostrich Winery, Brushy Creek Vineyards, Arche, Spicewood Vineyards, Wedding Oak Winery, Calais Winery, and Cap Rock Winery. Most of the bottles were 100% Roussannes, but there were a couple of Roussanne blends. We did not know where these were in the lineup. There were some surprises as the bags came off. Jeff then took our scoring sheets into another room and quickly entered our scores into a spreadsheet designed for this purpose. The wines were ranked and presented:

(88.21) McPherson Cellars, Texas, 2012 Reserve Roussanne
(87.53) McPherson Cellars, Texas, 2011 Roussanne
(86.95) McPherson Cellars, Texas, 2012 Roussanne
(85.95) Brennan Vineyards, Texas, 2011 Roussanne Lily blend
(85.74) Brennan Vineyards, Texas, 2012 Roussanne Lily blend

We were amazed that McPherson Cellars took the top three and Brennan Vineyards Lily blend rounded out the top five.


It was a wonderful July evening spent tasting Texas wine and talking about Texas wine with people who also enjoy and support the Texas wine industry.

Wine blogger Jeff Cope (rear)
Wine lover Delia Cuellar (left) and wine blogger, author, Russ Kane (right)
•Daniel Kelada – GUSTO Founder, Executive Wine Sommelier, Senior Wine Instructor, International Wine Guild Master Candidate, Vice President The Texas Wine and Food Consortium (seated)
•Dave Foley – Sommelier (standing)

For a more thorough account of the evening be sure and visit Jeff Cope’s blogpost Battle of the Texas Roussannes. While there take some time and read his other posts. He has written about quite a number of Texas wineries he and his fiancée Gloria have visited across the state over the years.

Wine blogger and author Russ Kane also provides his account of the evening along with further insight of the Roussanne grape on his blogpost It’s the Right Time for Texas Roussanne.