Tag Archives: Texas Hill Country

A Gourmet’s Tour of San Antonio

sanantonioby Andrew Chalk

Texans know that San Antonio is the place in Texas where we go to play. However, while it has a firm hold on the family market, what with Sea World, Six Flags and the River Walk, Texans with gourmet pretensions have traditionally gone out of state to regional favorites like Santa Fe or New Orleans, or further afield to San Francisco or New York.

Could I, I challenged myself, construct a gourmet tour of San Antonio that while not, for example, having the same ethnic weighting as in the Creole and Cajun influences in New Orleans, or the same Sonoran desert sensibilities as Santa Fe, nonetheless stand up to those heavyweights in its own unique way? Turns out, it was a piece of cake.

I am defining ‘gourmet’ broadly as an ideal reflecting the finest in food and drink. So it may not be a meal, but rather a visit to a winery, market, brewery or distillery, for example. I am also assuming access to a car, so that you take advantage of San Antonio’s location at the foot of the Texas Hill Country.    Continue reading

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Solaro Estate Charts An Independent Course

index1by Andrew Chalk

After I saw and reported success for Solaro Estate Winery wines in national competitions I decided to stop by and see for myself what was going on at this winery and vineyard that had previously flown beneath my radar. What I found was an Italian-inspired boutique operation focused on making the best wine possible from Texas grapes. They are well capitalized and engaged in vineyard expansion. Owner/winemaker Robert Fritz is self-taught (making his first wine at age 10) and has acquired set views about winemaking, grape growing, and Texas politics

Fritz wondered what to do with his time when he turned 60. A successful legal career continued but he wanted a diversion. Like dreamers before him, he planted grapes, built a winery, and started making wine. The result, Solaro Estate Winery, occupies 160 acres in Dripping Springs. Part of the land is given over to horsey pursuits, something that Robert and his partner Barbara Hederlein still take seriously, 35 acres is planted to grapes, and there is a tourist-friendly tasting room as well as the winery.   Continue reading

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Is Roussanne The Next Breakthrough Texas Grape?

wine-tastingby Andrew Chalk

I recently reported on a tasting of Texas wines made from the Rhône grape named Roussanne.  Thirty four Dallas consumers blind-tasted 17 Roussanne wines (or blends) from major Roussanne growing regions (10 wines were from Texas) and when the results were in, Texas wines occupied four of the five top positions, including first.

That tasting, organized by a wine event group named Gusto, has been replicated closely by them in Houston and Austin. Here are the results for the top five wines out of 17 in each tasting. I have highlighted the Texas wines to draw attention to their rankings:  Continue reading

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A New And Novel Way To Get Introduced To Wine

txvstheworld1by Andrew Chalk

Interested in wine but not sure which of the dozens of tastings each month will really teach you how a specific grape tastes and show you examples from great to gruesome? Gusto, a wine education event organizer aligned with the Texas Wine and Food Consortium, may have the answer that you have been looking for. After a 2008 start in Houston, the organization expanded to other major Texas cities, reaching Dallas just this week. Their winning event is a series of tastings running under the general heading “Texas vs. The World”. Each tasting in the series is based around a single grape type and compares multiple examples of that grape from major producing areas around the world.

A distinguishing feature of the events is that since they are “Texas vs..” there is a strong Texas representation among the wines. They are all served blind over a two hour interval during which attendees do the flight of wines at their own pace. Each attendee gets a scorecard and at the end is the ‘reveal’, an event that leads to revelation among the beginners to wine tasting and, among those who think they know their wines, some egos being massaged but others pricked.   Continue reading

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Texas Winery Wins Grand Slam in California Wine Competition

solaro1by Andrew Chalk

This just in from Solaro Estate Winery of Dripping Springs, Texas. They won Best of Class for their 2011 Solaro Estate Barbera, Estate Grown, Texas Hill Country in the 2013 International Women’s Wine Competition held in Sonoma County, CA in July and organized under the auspices of the respected industry magazine “Vineyard and Winery Management” (if you want to know how many vines to plant per acre this is the magazine for you).   Continue reading

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October is Texas Wine Month at JW Marriott

marriottby Andrew Chalk

In the Hill Country, 36 wineries will be participating. Pay $25 for a minimum of one and up to three tastings at any of these wineries. Sign up here. Plan to reserve your accommodation right away at the J.W. Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort and Spa. To commemorate the 31 days of celebrating Texas Wines, they will offer a wine pairing dinner menu with Texas wines in 18 Oaks Restaurant nightly during the month of October.

Their press release read “Carefully selected by the chef, the finest meats, seafood and local produce will be complemented by the Texas Wine region’s best vintages”. I checked with their PR and all of the wines to be served are Texas wines:   Continue reading

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2013 Texas Grape Harvest Is A Tale Of Two Worlds

Pedernales Family Harvestby Andrew Chalk

High Plains Devastated – Central Texas Sees Good Harvest

The 2013 Texas grape harvest is a story of contrasts . The High Plains, the most important wine grape area, was hit by no fewer than five frosts in the spring, leading to a 90% decrease in grape output compared with last year. The frosts were, as consultant Bobby Cox wrote “timed to do maximum damage”. The Hill Country, Gulf Coast, and north east of the state saw much better, sometimes very good, conditions.

I posed six questions about the harvest thus far to every winery in Texas. Below I reproduce a selection of the responses that represent the overall picture. It is early days yet, as virtually every respondent remarked, so this report is preliminary. I will have another report around the end of the year.            Continue reading

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