Write Off the Vine: Texas Wine News – October 15, 2010
TDA’s Texas Winery Passport Program Wins Award
Guest Blogger: Kerry Neely, Deputy Assistant Commissioner for Marketing
I’m proud to announce the Texas Department of Agriculture’s Texas Winery Passport Program won the 2010 North American Agriculture Marketing Officials (NAAMO) Agricultural Marketing Excellence award!
The winery passport program works in new and innovative ways to offer incentives to visitors experiencing Texas wine country. Through the program, more than 1 million travelers visit Texas vineyards and wineries, while meeting the winemakers who take pride in their craft. Thanks to those winemakers, Texas is the fifth-leading wine-producing state in the nation.
When travelers redeem their passports, not only does TDA send them a reward or connect them with a reward-donating winery that offers tastings, dinners or overnight stays, the agency also receives valuable feedback about consumer interests that serves as essential market research.
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Regional Wine Week: Friday — The Going to Missouri Edition
DrinkLocalWine.com will hold its third annual conference April 1-3, 2011, in St. Louis, where we’ll focus on the unique and fascinating world of Missouri wine. Why unique and fascinating? Because not only does Missouri produce top-flight wine, but it does so with hardly a European wine grape in sight. The state’s 121 wineries specialize in hybrids and native American grapes like the norton, vidal blanc, and seyval blanc, and they regularly win awards at some of the top competitions in the world. Our thanks to the Missouri Wine and Grape Board, which is the conference’s primary sponsor.
[VintageTexas Note: I’ll be there too. Jeff Siegel the Localwine Meister has asked me, your friendly Texas WineSlinger, to help out with DLW2011 and especially the Twitter Tasting at DLW2011. It should be fun. Stay tuned for more info on this exciting event.]
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Texas Grape Camp: November 7th & 8th, 2010 at the Lady Bird Johnson Pioneer Pavilion in Fredericksburg, TX
The annual Grape Camp is educational programming designed and delivered by theTexas AgriLife Extension Service for commercial vineyard owners and for anyone interested in learning about grape growing in Texas.
November 7th New Grower Sessions: The Texas Vineyard Site – A Compromise, Site Preparation and Vineyard Design, Grape Varieties & Rootstocks, Young Vine Training, Upcoming Legislative Issues, Weed Control for Non-bearing and Bearing Vineyards, Using Sustainable Grape Contracts to Eliminate Harvest Misunderstandings & Surprises, Foundation Fundraiser BBQ Dinner
November 8th Advanced Grower Sessions: Upcoming Legislative Issues and Compliance with Regulations, Crop Estimation, Fruit Thinning for Crop Uniformity & Enhanced Quality, Balancing Yield & Quality in the Vineyard & in the Winery, Maturity Monitoring & Harvest Timing, Gorilla vs. Wimp: Influence of Vine Vigor on Grape Quality, Update on 2,4-D Regulatory Status, Potential Actions for Remediation of 2,4-D Damage
More and Registation: http://www.txwines.org/grapecamp/default.asp
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Texas’ Kiepersol Estates
Jeff Siegel – The Wine Curmudgeon
The conventional wisdom is that European-style wine grapes like cabernet savignon and merlot, called vinifera, can’t be grown in East Texas. The climate is too humid, for one, and the area is a prime breeding ground for Pierce’s Disease, which is about as bad as grape diseases get.
So what is Kiepersol Estates, located south of Tyler, doing in East Texas? And how does it manage to make some of the state’s top wines?
“We still don’t know the answers exactly, but we’re getting the right outcome,” says Pierre de Wet, a South African who immigrated to the U.S. in 1984, planted grapes in 1998, and produced its first vintage in 2001. “It has been a lot of trial and error.”
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Call of the Vines Too Strong to Resist (Duchman Family Winery)
By Dale Robertson, Houston Chronicle
Duchman focuses on Italian varietals “because we didn’t want to do what everybody else was doing” [said Stan Duchman]. But, regarding his prize-winning dolcetto, he concedes: “That was completely a reach. Bobby Cox deserves all the credit. He’d heard of a dolcetto clone that worked really well in a climate like ours and he said Cliff would grow it.
Duchman is also having success with vermentino, trebbiano and sangiovese. The vermentino turned heads at the 2009 Aspen Food and Wine Festival when served to a table full of Master Sommeliers, including former Houstonian Paul Roberts. They refused to accept that such a bright, stylish wine could have possibly come from Texas.
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Retreat Hill Winery ~ Texas Bluebonnet Wine Trail Pictures
This last year we decided to explore some of the nearby Texas wineries that were open for the Texas Bluebonnet Wine Trail and Retreat Hill Winery was on the list of places to experience. The address of Retreat Hill Winery is 15551 FM 362, Navasota, Texas 77868. Their telephone number is 936-449-5285.
Conveniently open from 11 AM to 6 PM on Saturdays and Noon to 5 PM on Sundays (and other times by appointment) this winery is tucked away into the gently rolling countryside.
The people that worked there appeared to us as though they were all the best of friends and had probably worked together at Retreat Hill Winery for years. Whether that was in fact the case, it was our impression from all the jovial banter back and forth between them.
See lots of photos and videos of harvest and Bluebonnet Wine Trail activities.
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Texas Makes USA Today’s 10 Great Places for Wine List!
Woo-hoo! While you’re pouring me a glass of Texas wine, may I suggest that we raise said glass to the Hill Country and their bumper crop of wine grapes this year? Yesterday, USA Today named the Texas Hill Country as one of just 10 great places for local wines in the US! They even went so far to call Fredericksburg, Texas a mini-Napa.
Says USA Today:
With more than 200 wineries, Texas has become a leading state for vintners. And the scenic area near Austin and San Antonio is the center of the action. Winemakers have learned that grapes from other warm-climate areas do well here, including Spanish Tempranillo, French Syrah and Italian Sangiovese, Siegel says. With all the attention, the town of Fredericksburg has become a mini-Napa with fine restaurants, shopping and bed-and-breakfasts.
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Driftwood Winery – 4001 Elder Hill Road, (CR170), Driftwood, Texas 78619. (512) 858-9667. When you drive up to Driftwood Winery, the first and most obvious delight is the view, as evidenced by the sunset shot from the 1,100 square foot deck off the tasting room here. Driftwood Vineyards, part of an 880 acre ranch bought by Kathy’s father in 1951, is owned by Gary, Kathy and Laura Elliott. The vineyard was planted in 1998 and consists of 14 acres with eight varietals. They crushed their first harvest in August of 2002, and Driftwood opened their tasting room on March 1, 2003 with 1,200 cases of 5 different wines.
The winery offers wine classes, including Reidel Crystal tasting classes. The owners encourage visitors to bring picnic lunches to enjoy as you look out over the gorgeous Texas Hill Country to the vineyards below. See website for details on classes and tasting room hours. www.driftwoodvineyards.com