Tag Archives: texas wineries

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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Photo courtesy Jeff Cope, http://www.txwinelover.com

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.

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

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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.

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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, www.txwinelover.com
Photo courtesy Jeff Cope, http://www.txwinelover.com

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, http://www.txwinelover.com

 

 

Texas Friends and Texas Wines

Cookies and milk

Chips and dip

Bogey and Bacall

Wine and friends

Some things just seem to go better together. We love Texas wines. We love being with our friends. Visiting Texas wineries with our friends really brings it all together.

It may be several months between our visits, but when we meet up for either a few hours or a couple of days we are guaranteed fun and laughter.

Wineries just have a knack for bringing people together with something in common…to have a good time! This weekend was planned as a tasting weekend. We met up with our friend and Texas wine blogger Jeff Cope at Kiepersol Estates Winery…outside of Bullard just south of Tyler. Fellow wine lovers Roger and Darlene Bruckbauer met us there as well. They live in the area so they are frequent visitors to Kiepersol. We met Roger and Darlene last year at a wine festival in Fredericksburg and had a great time. Through social media, in this case Facebook, we follow each other’s wine adventures.

TXWineLover Jeff Cope Roger and Darlene Bruckbauer
TXWineLover Jeff Cope
Roger and Darlene Bruckbauer

We spent a few wonderful hours touring and tasting at Kiepersol and even though we had more stops on our schedule, we found it hard to say our goodbyes and leave.

We made our way to the next wineries on Jeff’s list, Briar Creek Vineyards, KE Cellars, and Crump Valley Vineyards, visiting and tasting and purchasing as we went. Briar Creek Vineyards opened just last year having planted their first vines in 2007. In true Texas fashion, Kiepersol helped them out while they got their winery set up and their equipment purchased and in place. That happens often throughout the Texas wine industry, winery helping winery.

We ended up at our final destination for the evening: Dave and Kelli Potter’s house. They too are Texas wine lovers and bloggers we met through social media groups and we’ve attended several festivals and tastings with them. We stayed up talking and drinking more wine as we related our day’s adventures and laid out the plan of attack for the next day.

The Grapes Across Texas Bloggers Kelli and Dave Potter Texas Wine Lover Blogger Jeff Cope Wines At Road's End Blogger Laurie Ware
The Grapes Around Texas Blogger Kelli Potter
Texas Wine Lover Blogger Jeff Cope
Wines At Road’s End Bloggers Shelly and  Laurie Ware

We filled the next morning with coffee, breakfast, clean up, and dinner preparations before we headed out the door to the wineries on the list to visit for the day: Mitas Hill, Caudalie Crest, and Eden Hill Winery. It was wonderful visiting these new wineries and hearing about their plans to be part of the exciting future of the Texas wine scene.

We visited with vineyard owners, asked questions of wine makers, and tasted wines made with new grapes being grown in the area. While Shelly and I have enjoyed our visits to wineries as a couple over the years, we have really come to appreciate the fellowship of our friends and the different perspective and questions that they think to ask as they continue to learn more about wines and grapes too.

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Kelli Potter, Jeff Cope, Shelly Ware, Chris Hornbaker (winemaker at Eden Hill)
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Caudalie Crest Winery