Hey winos, we are already 8 days into Texas Wine Month. Have you swirled any good local vino yet? I wouldn’t be surprised if there is any left–our loyal reader, and resident wine chick, Lisa, has been doing more than her fair share by traveling all over the state and writing a book called Wine Girl. (Guess our little chick has grown into a girl. Dang, I feel old.) Anywhoo, today our wine girl wants to share her hangovers highlights with you. So, without further ado, here is Miss Lisa:
Hey, Dishers! Enjoying Texas Wine Month so far? I hope your corkscrews got a workout last week! [Ed: Y’all be nice to her.]
As mid-month approaches, let’s take our exploration of Texas wine to the next level. Time to hit the road! Maybe you tried some local wine in the comfort of your own home last week, and now you’re ready to get up close and personal. Or maybe you’ve heard about wonderful wineries in the area, but you’re a little fuzzy on the details. No worries – that’s my department. Today I’ll highlight a handful of wineries right here in our own back yard.
If you’re looking for vineyards that cover the land as far as the eye can see, you’ll have to drive to West Texas or down to the Hill Country (both excellent subjects for future posts). These local boutique wineries offer a more intimate experience, along with delicious, hand-crafted wines. A visit to any of these locations is a taste of the winery way of life that’s so close, you don’t have to file it under “special occasion”.
La Buena Vida Vineyards (Grapevine):
Owner Gina Puente-Brancato, a former president of the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association, has worked a little magic at La Buena Vida since purchasing its Grapevine location in 2006. Things may look different, but what hasn’t changed is La Buena Vida’s commitment to excellence, especially when it comes to wine – a tradition upheld since 1972 by founder, winemaker and Texas wine legend, Dr. Bobby Smith.
The winery features a lovely, well-appointed tasting room, but sparkling fountains in blue and white tile, baskets overflowing with flowers and towering shade trees make La Buena Vida’s patio the place to be. Arrange a visit at sunset, if you can swing it, and bring along that special someone. The fountains glow and lights in the trees overhead bring a “romantic getaway” feeling to any night of the week.
(PHOTO: La Buena Vida at twilight. Lara Bierner)
San Martiño Winery and Vineyards (Rockwall):
Emilio and Maria Ramos opened their Rockwall winery in 2004 and named it for the town of San Martiño in northwestern Spain. Emilio’s ancestors hail from the remote village, and it was there that the family tradition of winemaking was born. In just a few short years, the Ramoses have built a loyal following among their guests, as well as an extensive line-up of award-winning wines.
San Martiño’s tasting room features a fireplace and picture windows with a view of the small on-site vineyard and rolling hills in the distance. The winery’s new event center was designed with parties and wedding receptions in mind, and the outdoor pergola is an ideal setting for concerts. When you go, taste the Tempranillo, made from top-quality Newsom Vineyards grapes from the Texas High Plains – it’s seductive and Spanish and I’m pretty much obsessed.
Landon Winery (McKinney):
With its prime spot on the square in downtown McKinney, Landon Winery has an urban “wine bar” feel and upbeat staff that knows how to show their guests a good time. This shopping and entertainment area attracts visitors from all around with a combination of modern style and historic roots, and this popular winery fits right in.
Owner Bob Landon creates his wines with an eye on traditional technique, and he welcomes both novices and connoisseurs to the winery, aiming to make everyone feel right at home. Whether you stop in as part of a day of shopping on the square (this winery’s got a great gift shop), or make a special trip for a tasting, you’re sure to love Landon. Also of note is the winery’s brand-new sidewalk patio – perfect for people-watching.
(PHOTO: The tasting room at Landon Winery. Lara Bierner)
Lightcatcher Winery (Fort Worth):
This unique winery hosts a stylish soiree on the first and third Sundays of the month. Jazz Sundays, as they’re called, bring shiny, happy people to Lightcatcher’s patio to enjoy great music, delicious food, and of course, a bottle of owner Caris Turpen’s handcrafted wine.
On a recent visit, I perched at a table beneath a giant, red umbrella and watched as a crowd of well over 100 gathered to hear the awe-inspiring work of Rhett Butler and his band (he made a special stop at the winery on his way to Bass Hall the following week). While Mr. Butler charmed his audience, servers weaved around and through tables bearing trays of wine and delectable plates from the winery’s tempting Bistro Lightcatcher Menu.
It was a wonderful night – Lightcatcher Winery is the epitome of casual style. Head out for a Sunday show or any time at all for a taste of Caris’ distinctive creations. Hint: The Lightcatcher 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon is to die for.
Check each winery’s website for details on specific events, contact info and hours of operation.