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Love to taste, talk and tweet about Texas wines and where they are in the global scheme for wines. After all that's the only way they will reach the full potential.

Oct 042013
 

DLW2013-Logo

Writers, Bloggers and Enthusiasts Get Ready for the 6th Annual Regional Wine Week – October 6-12, 2013

Drink Local Wine will hold its sixth annual Regional Wine Week from October 6th to 12th, where wine writers, bloggers and enthusiasts share information about wine from lesser known wine regions throughout the country — providing a one-stop shop to see what’s cutting edge in regional wine.

The fifth annual regional wine week, held last year in November, linked dozens of stories and blog posts about wine produced in more than half of the other wine states (besides California, Oregon, and Washington). Yes, there ARE other wine producing states…46 or 47 of them depending how you count!

This year’s bonus -– We’ll be announcing a special contest people can enter to win wine-related prizes. The announcement may be viewed at http://www.drinklocalwine.com.

During Regional Wine Week, writers from across the United States are asked to post stories to their blogs, Web sites, magazines, and newspapers about their favorite regional and local wines, wineries and events. Then, send us a link to the post, and our website will aggregate the stories, providing a snapshot of regional wine. Over the past four years, writers from across the country have covered dozens of states’ wine industries.

Regional Wine Week is open to anyone –- from professional wine writers to wine enthusiasts with Facebook pages or Tumblr sites. You can submit stories about anything related to wineries, winemakers and wines from anywhere in North America (though we prefer not to include areas like Napa and Sonoma, since they already get enough attention).

For information about Regional Wine Week or to submit a story link, please click here to email DrickLocalWine.com.

We’re looking forward to another great year. Please help us spread the word about regional wines.

 Posted by at 10:47 am
Oct 042013
 

Toast Texas Wine Month Tonight

Tonight’s The Night: Texas Wine Month Kick-off Tasting – October 4, 6-8pm

Brand new this year, Texas Hill Country Wineries (THCW) will Kick-off each trail with a local wine tasting!  The first Friday evening of each trail (like tonight), local wineries in one area will gather together to share a sample of their wines with you.

Start October – Texas Wine Month – off at Fiesta Winery along with Alamosa Wine Cellars, Pillar Bluff Vineyards, Texas Legato and Wedding Oak Winery.  Enjoy this evening with these five wineries then take your time on the trail the next few days and really discover what the northern area wineries have to offer.  They even have Walking S Wagon coming with a good ol’ BBQ plate including Dutch Oven Peach Cobbler for $10.  It’s a perfect wine and food pairings happening!

The Texas Hill Country AVA covers a vast area, some member wineries are over 100 miles apart.  We encourage you to take the first weekend of each trail and enjoy more of a local feel within the Hill Country.  All of our local communities have so much to offer…charming Bed & Breakfasts, scrumptious restaurants and many extra activities to showcase the Hill Country.  Check out our Eat, Sleep, Travel page or visit the Lampasas Chamber of Commerce or San Saba Chamber of Commerce websites to help plan your weekend.

For just $25, ($15 with your W&WT ticket, purchase) tickets include 10 tastes, logo glass, light appetizers and a casual, fun evening in the Hill Country plus take your ticket to participating wineries and receive a 15% discount on 3 bottle purchases over the weekend, October 5-6!  Local food trucks will be onsite as well for you to purchase larger meals. Note: $30 at the door if available, tickets are limited.

Click here for more information on the Texas Hill Country Wineries event schedule and online ticket purchases.

 Posted by at 10:25 am
Oct 012013
 

US-Government-Shutdown

U.S. Government Shutdown: Impact to Texas Wine & Grape Industry

Probably the last place you would have thought to look for an impact of the U.S. government shut down would be in your glass of wine. Well…could it mean more “For Sale in Texas Only Wine”, maybe even wine with no labels, or maybe even nobody picking grapes to make wine?

WineAmerica reported that due to the continuing debate over the Affordable Healthcare Act, the Federal Government shut down at midnight last night. What does this mean for wineries?

Services deemed non-essential have been suspended:

  • Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) has suspended all regulatory functions, non-criminal investigative activities and audit functions.  This means that all reviews of alcohol beverage labels, formulas and permits will be suspended until funding is reinstated.
  • The TTB has been bogged down with label reviews for quite some time now, and any suspension or services will only exacerbate this problem.
  • Meanwhile, all tax remittances will continue to be processed by the TTB as these functions are deemed necessary for safety and protection of property.

While Congress works to sort out government funding, issues important to wineries remain unaddressed.  The TTB website has posted an Appropriations Lapse Notice.

  • Farm Bill: If the Farm Bill is not reauthorized or extended this year, it will revert to the 1948 version, ending all funding for wine assistance programs.
  • Immigration Reform: Current law (H2-A) is cumbersome and ineffective. Labor shortages are common place and are causing crop and financial losses. We need bi-partisan cooperation to write legislation that works.

From: “Off The NewsVine”, News from the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association (TWGGA).

 Posted by at 4:31 pm
Oct 012013
 

Gruene-M&W-Fest-2013

27th Annual Gruene Music & Wine Festival - October 10-13, 2013

You’re Invited…Share with a Friend! 4 Days. 4 Distinct Events.

Mark your calendars and raise your glasses, the 27th Annual Gruene Music & Wine Festival is right around the corner! Join fellow Texas wine aficionados for a weekend full of Texas music, wine and food, all to benefit the United Way of Comal County. Tickets are available at www.gruenemusicandwinefest.org.

Thanks to generous sponsors (Ammo Advertising, Chase Bank, Frost Bank, First Commercial Bank, Gruene Hall, KNBT 92.1 FM Radio New Braunfels, Manrique Custom Vision Center, M&S Companies, New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung, and The Grapevine), this year promises to be better than ever!

Confirmed Texas wineries:

Bell Springs Winery, Bending Branch Winery, Bernhardt Winery, Blue Lotus Winery

Fall Creek Vineyards, Fawncrest Vineyard, Fiesta Winery

Georgetown Winery, Grape Creek Winery

Haak Vineyards, Hilmy Cellars, Inwood Estates Vineyards, Kerrville Hills Winery

Llano Estacado Winery, Los Pinos Ranch Vineyards, Maydelle Country Wines

Pleasant Hill Winery, Rohan Meadery, Salado Creek Winery, Santa Maria Cellars

Seifert Cellars, Three Dudes Winery, Texas Hills Vineyard, Texas Mead Works

Val Verde Winery, Wedding Oak Winery, Woodrose Winery

 Posted by at 10:48 am
Sep 222013
 

Come on Down for the Edible Escape in Marble Falls, Texas

Come on Down for the Edible Escape in Marble Falls on September 29th!

Edible Austin and Marble Falls Chamber of Commerce/CVB Present Edible Escape…”A Texas-style Artisanal Picnic”

On Sunday, September 29, Edible Austin and the Marble Falls Chamber of Commerce/CVB invite Central Texans to enjoy an escape from the city to discover all that Austin’s north and northwest neighbors have to offer. Edible Escape will be hosted at the beautiful Lakeside Pavilion (307 Buena Vista, Marble Falls, TX 78654) overlooking scenic Lake Marble Falls—bringing Edible Austin’s Travel Issue to life and benefiting the Helping Center of Marble Falls.

From 4 – 8 pm, this Texas-style artisanal picnic will allow guests to taste samples from regional chefs and food artisans, enjoy wine from eight featured local wineries and sip specialty cocktails mixed at the Tipsy Texan Cocktail Bar. The event will also feature a chef demonstration by Jack Gilmore of Jack Allen’s Kitchen, an artisan demonstration by Sebastien Caillabet of Celtic Seafare and a wine makers panel moderated by Dr. Russell Kane, author of The Wineslinger Chronicles: Texas on the Vine. During the event you can purchase copies of The Wineslinger Chronicles and Russ will available to personalize and autograph his book.

Marshall Ford Swing Band will set the mood with Texan swing-style tunes along with Go Dance offering professional dance lessons to get the crowd moving. Other activities will include a good old-fashioned cowboy boot contest sponsored by Harry’s and some creative painting fun provided by Pinot’s Palatte.

Tickets are on sale at edibleaustin.com/edibleescape. A limited number of Early Bird tickets are $35. Prices will go up to $45 when the Early Bird tickets are all sold out.  Guests must be 21 to attend.

For guests planning to make a weekend out of it, Edible Austin has created a Guide to Marble Falls to help plan a weekend adventure. Guests may also call for room rates available at the LaQuinta Inn & Suites in Marble Falls (830-798-2020).

Chef and Artisan Tastings By: 87BakeShop, Alamo Pecan and Coffee Company, Aquasana, Celtic Seafare, Jack Allen’s Kitchen, Noon Spoon Café, Otto’s German Bistro, Saucy’s Restaurant and Catering, Spiral Horn Apiary, Turtle Restaurant and Veldhuizen Cheese

Wine Tastings By: Brennan Vineyards, Hilmy Cellars, Messina Hof Winery, Pedernales Cellars, Perissos Vineyards, Pontotoc Vineyard, Texas Hills Vineyard and Wedding Oak Winery.

Presenting Sponsor: Marble Falls Chamber of Commerce & CVB

Community Sponsor: Marble Falls Economic Development Council

Click here for more information on this event and for online ticket sales for The Edible Escape.

– — – — –

 Helping Center of Marble Falls Area, Inc. is a 501 (c) (3) charitable organization, providing services specifically focused on food, financial support towards utility bills, antibiotics and short-term prescriptions to permanent residents of the southern Burnet County area. Non-residents, homeless and short-term residents can also qualify to receive food, assistance with lodging or other emergency financial support. The Helping Center is not funded through any form of government assistance or grants. Assistance is made possible solely by it’s volunteers and charitable donations from individuals and community organizations.

Edible Austin is a bi-monthly publication celebrating local food and food culture in Central Texas, season by season. Edible Austin is a member of Edible Communities, winner of the James Beard Foundation 2011 Publication of the Year Award and won the 2012 Austin Chronicle’s Readers Poll award for “Best Non-Chronicle Publication.”

 Posted by at 3:47 pm
Sep 202013
 

Mareen-Qualia

Texas Tech University Plant and Soil Science Department Adds Maureen Qualia as Enology Instructor

The Texas wine industry welcomes one of it’s own back to Texas in a vital role!

An experienced winemaker and production manager, who will specialize in enology, has been named an instructor in Texas Tech’s Department of Plant and Soil Science, according to officials within the University’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. Maureen Qualia officially stepped into her new post on September 1 of this year.

Based at Texas Tech’s Fredericksburg campus in the Texas Hill Country, Qualia will develop and teach the university’s new winemaking certificate program. She will also teach undergraduate enology classes in Lubbock via distance education, and offer technical workshops for local Hill Country wineries.

“Maureen grew up in the Texas wine industry working in the family business, Val Verde Winery in Del Rio,” said Ed Hellman, a professor of viticulture with Tech’s Department of Plant and Soil Science. “She spent summers helping with harvest and most holidays working in the tasting room.”

Following a year abroad in northern Italy, Qualia began undergraduate studies at the University of Texas-Austin and received a bachelor’s degree in nutrition in 2001. She spent several years working for a government non-profit agency in Austin teaching bi-lingual nutrition classes and broadened her international experience by traveling extensively through Central and South America.

In 2005, Qualia’s winemaking interests reawakened. She moved to California to pursue a master’s degree in enology at California State University-Fresno, which she received in 2008. In addition to enology coursework, her graduate experiences included teaching wine analysis, research in phenolic chemistry and sensory evaluation.

While still in California, Qualia worked in the California wine industry, holding positions in lab management, winemaking and wine production management. She worked at Napa Valley’s Silver Oak Cellars, Owl Ridge Wine Services in Sebastopol, Trione Vineyards and Winery in the Alexander Valley, and most recently serving as the head winemaker and production manager at J&J Cellars in Paso Robles.

“Many of her wines from J&J Cellars earned accolades and awards in both national and international wine competitions,” Hellman said.

– — – — –

VintageTexas:  I know that you will join me in welcoming Maureen Qualia back to Texas!

 Posted by at 2:39 pm
Sep 192013
 

Stop by and get your signed copy of The Wineslinger Chronicles

Doc Russ, Texas Wineslinger at Pedernales Cellars – Saturday, September 21st

It’s time for the old Texas Wineslinger, Russ Kane from VintageTexas, to dust off his Stetson and get the ink flowing in his trusty signing pen.

I’ve been invited to poke in at Pedernales Cellars in Stonewall, Texas (about 20 minutes east of Fredericksburg), this Saturday, September 21st at 12 noon for a presentation, reading, Q&A and signing of my bestselling book, The Wineslinger Chronicles: Texas on the Vine. So, come on by the Pedernales Cellars tasting room for a little sipping and signing. I look forward to seeing you there.

In The Wineslinger Chronicles, my reflections include explorations of Spanish missionary life and the sacramental wine made from Texas’s first vineyard as well as the love for grapes and wine brought subsequently by German and Italian immigrants from their homelands.

In this book, I also relate stories of the modern-day growers and entrepreneurs who overcame the lingering effects of temperance and prohibition—forces that failed to eradicate Texas’s destiny as an emerging wine-producing region. The book ends with a postscript, “A Winegrower’s Prayer”. It serves as a poignant reminder of the challenges that weigh heavy on those still defining the terroir of Texas’s wine frontier.

Oz Clarke, author of Pocket Wine Book and 250 Best Wines Wine Buying Guide, says, “Doc Russ is the kind of guy who can mix blues, barbecue, and Barbera in a truly Texan way, and as he writes I can smell the mesquite smoke, hear the wailing guitar and chew the High Plains ripe red fruit.”

Other events at Pedernales Cellars this Saturday include: Tapas and wine pairings, barrel tasting, wine club pick up, vineyard tours, Recipe time with Chef Nathan Stevens, Growing Texas Hill Country wildflowers with John Thomas from Wildseed Farms, “So You Want to Be a Sommelier?” with Master Sommelier Guy Stout. Click here for further details and times.

See you at Pedernales Cellars is located at 2916 Upper Albert Road, Stonewall, TX 78671; Tasting Room: 830-644-2037; for more information contact: info@pedernalescellars.com.

 Posted by at 10:03 pm
Aug 312013
 

TWGGA Holds First Legislative Forum: “For Sale in Texas Only Makes” the Initial Cut

The first in a series of Legislative Forums was held on Wednesday, August 14 in Austin. The Legislative Forums came out of a discussion at the June TWGGA Board of Directors meeting. The Texas Wine and Grape Grower Association (TWGGA) Board committed to hosting at least three forums prior to the 2015 Legislative Session to improve communication and decision making around the Association’s legislative efforts.

TWGGA President Ron Yates (without intervention from Bacchus) opened the August 14 meeting where a good cross section of large and small vineyards and wineries were represented along with many long-time and newer industry members, TWGGA board members, TWGGA members and industry members not associated with TWGGA present.

After a brainstorming session, the assembled group made a “non-prioritized” list of agenda items to be considered at their next meeting on September 12th. In addition to many industry issues regarding permitting and regulation changes listed for TWGGA action, the group included addressing the use of “For Sale in Texas Only” on Texas wine labels. This FSITO moniker usually reserved for wines made at Texas wineries from out-of-state grapes that cannot be qualified per federal regulations as authentic Texas wines.

It is good to see TWGGA apparently take up the FSITO issue as it leads to consumer confusion and is often misrepresented by people in the wine trade as Texas wine.

TWGGA is currently trying to prioritize their list of action items (FSITO is only one of 12 items identified which includes sales of beer at Texas wineries). If you feel strongly that scrapping “For Sale in Texas Only” labeling in favor of clearly and correctly stating the source of the grapes in Texas wine is a high priority matter, please let your feeling be known by contacting Dacota Haselwood by email at: dacota@twgga.org.

A Texas Winemaker and Winery Owner Pledge was issued on VintageTexas on clear and correct labeling of Texas wines that is still gaining supported (click here for more).

Remember, it is only through your input and persistence that FSITO will change!

– — – — –

AgRoundTable-img1

Cord Switzer- Fredericksburg Winery, Bob Young- Bending Branch Winery, Doug Lewis- Lewis Wines, Texas Department of Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, Ron Yates- Spicewood Vineyard and President Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association, John Rivenburgh- Bending Branch Winery and President Texas Hill Country Wineries

Agricultural Round Table – State of the Texas Wine Industry Meeting

This past week representatives from the Texas wine industry met with representatives from Texas Department of Agriculture, including Commissioner Todd Staples, Texas A&M, economic development corporations from surrounding counties, CVBs and other local businesses interested in the growing wine industry. This “first of it’s kind” meeting was initiated and hosted by Bending Branch Winery owners Bob Young and John Rivenburgh while lunch was provided by the Kendall County, Kerr County and Gillespie County Economic Development Corporation.

Education was a big topic, as it is needed throughout the industry from vineyard to winery in order to create growth and new jobs in the Texas wine industry. Both Texas Tech Texas with the Viticulture Certification Program, which recently graduated their 3rd class, and Texas A&M with research and experiential learning programs are geared towards these goals.

Dan Rogers, President/CEO Kendall County Economic Development Corporation, said, “The [wine] industry is becoming an economic engine in Texas and the economic development of this industry is a partnership with the State Department of Agriculture, local Economic development organizations and the tourism organization both State and local”.

The state currently has 308 wineries, employing over 10,000 Texans but we recently dropped from the 5th largest state in wine production to 6th. With the collaborative efforts of the associations and representatives in attendance, it is believed we can continue to grow and increase in production, jobs and awareness.

For more information on this Texas wine industry activity, contact January Wiese, Executive Director, Texas Hill Country Wineries by email at: January@TexasWineTrail.com  or  check their website at TexasWineTrail.com

 

 Posted by at 10:24 am
Aug 142013
 

Bacchus-in-Texas

The New Texas Wine Business Model: Response to “The Bacchus Rewrite” Blog

My question is directed at Andy Chalk at CraveDFW who recently wrote a creative and penetrating blog titled, “The TWGGA President’s Speech Replacement”. Click here to link to it. For those not involved in the Texas wine industry or related activities, TWGGA is the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association, the principal Texas wine industry trade, educational and political lobbying organization.

Andy, do you get the feeling like that some in the Texas wine industry would just like you to go away?

Andy, I particularly like your comment, “I once came across a Texas grape grower and winemaker who said that he had to resell California wine because there simply weren’t enough Texas grapes. It turned out he had been in business over twenty years. What has he been doing all that time? He could have plastered every square inch of the state with grapes. He isn’t short of Texas grapes because of an unanticipated bad harvest, he is short of Texas grapes by design. His business model is to grow a few grapes in Texas but to be a broker of California wine sold under the name of his Texas winery.”

However, it has only been about the past 5-10 years (literally a flash in time history shows that it takes to make a new quality wine appellation) that the Texas wine industry has been starting to realize the potential benefits in not emulating Bordeaux and Burgundy (or being a broker for California wine) in favor of making a play with a new Texas wine business model based on Mediterranean varietals that are better suited for our hot sunny summertime weather. However, this has been a bottom-up transformation with smaller wineries that sell primarily from their tasting rooms leading the charge with a plethora of “new” grape varieties that are not the old tried and true Cabernet, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay that California taught us to love. It’s been a re-education process both at the winery and with consumers. Some of the larger Texas wineries are the ones that are still entrenched in what Andy described as the “broker model” investing more in buying the leftover grapes and bulk wine (mainly from California) rather than working with growers for the long term good of the new Texas wine industry and the consumers they serve.

However, the other part of this difficult question is that Texas is a winegrowing region that is a bit schizophrenic. It’s a warm wine growing region alright, but  in some ways it’s more like Champagne – with bad cold weather particularly in the spring when the grapevines are starting to bud out. Consequently, not every year is going to be a vintage year (just like in Champagne). For this new Texas business model to be successful, it calls for more tank space to handling juice and storing wine properly for an extended period from the good years (just like they do in Champagne), making more multi-vintage wine (again just like in Champagne) and a greater emphasis on blends of wine to account for variable harvests (you guessed it – like done in Champagne).

It was encouraging to attend this week’s Texsom Conference  in Dallas. The Texas tasting on Sunday evening was a crush of people from the wine trade trying to squeeze into the Taste Texas Wines hospitality suite was organized and promoted by Denise Clarke and sponsored by Texas Monthly with special thanks to Jessica Dupuy’s focus on Texas wines on the Texas Monthly blog. The wineries that participated in the Taste Texas Wines (Pedernales Cellars, McPherson Cellars, Brennan Vineyards and Duchman Family Winery) seem to get it (click here). They see the future with Texas grown grapes and making wines from Mediterranean-derived grape varieties with correctly and clearly defined appellations on the bottle labels.

In my discussions with conference attendees and particularly with several Certified Advanced and Master Sommeliers, they see the abovemention move as the clear and correct way for the Texas wine industry to go (not as brokers for California wine). However, the barriers are still their: namely, getting some of the larger Texas wineries and their distributors to accept a new Texas wine business model and changes to their labels on their non-Texas wines from “appellationless” under “For Sale in Texas Only” to American or any other authorized appellation approved by the U.S. federal government.

Personally, I would like for TWGGA to evaluate this new business model and play a role in transitioning the industry onto a more productive and consumer-oriented path, rather than trying bury the present “broker” business model under the cloudy veil of “For Sale in Texas Only” labeling. I would also like the Texas legislature and Department of Agriculture to weigh in on this issue as well and figure out how they can support the new Texas wine business model for the betterment of rural Texans and the overall economic development of rural Texas. A previous Texas Ag Commissioner (Susan Coombs) saw this potential and supported the cause during her tenure. Where is the leadership now?

 Posted by at 9:00 am
Aug 112013
 

Texsom-Moscato-Muscat

At Texsom: Muscat beyond Moscato is where Texas is at!

It’s only the first day of the Texsom 2013 Texas Sommelier Conference at the Four Seasons Las Colinas and I’ve already found that Texas wines are relevant, especially when it comes to growing and making wine from the Muscat grape.

Unfortunately, the session did not highlight a Texas version of this highly characteristic grape. But, it was clear in the session titled “Muscat and Beyond” the flexibility of this grape (that just happens to grow well in Texas) has fueled the Muscat explosion in the wine industry with upwards of 25% growth year of year.

Variable wine styles – Muscat can accommodate that; variable crop loads – Muscat and handle that, too. Great tropical, floral and citrusy flavor and aroma component – Muscat’s got it covered.

We tasted wines from Austria, Alsace, Sutter Home (California but really from Chilean grapes), Italy, Sardinia, Australia. Please keep in mind that while not in this tasting – Texas is home to wonderfully floral dry, semi-sweet and full blown sweet Muscat wines.

I’m just glad to see that Texas with its focus on this currently very popular grape is keeping in step with the hip, rappin’ good wine fad of Moscato, and also knowing that it was popular here in Texas well in advance of the fad.

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 Posted by at 3:13 pm