More Notes from the Road, Tuscany in Texas, and A Little Wisdom from Mark Twain

More Notes from the Road, Tuscany in Texas, and A Little Wisdom from Mark Twain

This weekend’s road trip to Buffalo Gap finally came to an end with a long drive back to Houston through Fredericksburg. As I drove and reflected on experiences that I wanted to yet capture on this blog, I feared that it would consume far too many words. A statement of Mark Twain’s came to mind (updated for the world of the modern Blogosphere): “If I would have had more time, I would have written a shorter blog”. Therefore, I will try to be brief, but descriptive.

Tuscany Takes Root on the Texas Rolling Plains

Alfonso Cevola, Kim Pierce and I had a chance meet-up with Vincenzo (Vince) Viola who told us a tale of a Sangiovese vineyard just south of Abilene, about five miles from the Perini Ranch. So, we took the bait and followed him until we turn off the main road on to Trails End Lane where Texas turned into Tuscany. This is the spot where Dr. Dan Muton (left) and Vince (right) planted a vineyard of Sangiovese and soon to be Barbera. As Kim Pierce called it: “Evidence of Italians taking root in [the red soils of] Texas”. From the looks of the vineyard, Dan and Vince are getting close to a commercial harvest… and, if I know Italians, a dabble into winemaking, too.

Filed away in one of my mental lobes labeled “from Barbera to Baseball”:

During our visit, I found on other side of Dan and Vince’s vineyard was Dan’s baseball diamond where he welcomes pros and amateurs alike to practice their hitting and fielding skills.  Message to Dan…Diversification is a good thing in Texas wine country!

Small Bits and White Blends

On Saturday evening Buffalo Gap was awash with small bits from notable chefs and wines from the best winemakers from Texas, California and Italy. In my mind, most notable were two. Smoke Restaurant’s creation of roasted oysters hit a home run with me offering deep flavors, spice and (of course) smoked vegetable salsa). The surprise wine of the nice was Brennan Vineyards Lily, a friendly white Rhone-style three-blend. Both are worth a try.

The night ended with a group photograph of the cast that came from around the world to celebrate wine and food on the outskirts of Abilene. Then, later still I sat under the Texas stars and talked with Texas winemakers sipping Tito’s Handmade Vodka served over ice with lime wedges. While I promised that our conversations were “off-the-record”, I think that I won’t be “spilling any proprietary beans” if I mention that these guys are really dedicated. They work hard everyday to make better wine than they did last vintage, anticipate the offerings of our variable climate, and look for every opportunity to make us proud that we’re Texans and that we drink and enjoy Texas wines.

The Morning After

The sun shined brightly through a clear blue morning sky as we dined on Tom Perini’s ranch house breakfast. We “survived” another Buffalo Gap Wine and Food Summit ready for yet another, which is a far too long year away.

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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.


  1. Thank you so much Russ for the updates on the Buffalo Gap Summit. My hometown is Abilene and I have volunteered for the Summit before, but this year I decided to help my friend Benjamin Calais at the Red River Fest instead.
    I think “The Summit” is a must on any wine lovers list.
    Well done!

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