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Texas: It’s high time for a Lone Star wine tasting

Courtesy Grapevine CVB

Although Spanish missionaries cultivated grapes near modern day El Paso in the 1600s, and the Val Verde winery, near Del Rio, opened its doors in 1883, the Texas wine industry didn’t take off again after Prohibition until the early 1970s.

Since then, the state has picked up steam, and today, more than 120 wineries have catapulted Texas to the fifth-largest wine-producing state behind California, Washington, New York and Oregon.

Grapevine

Grapevine, settled under the Lone Star flag in 1844 a year before Texas joined the Union, received its name from the tart, wild mustang grapes that blanket the area. Today, its nine wineries include two located inside the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport.

Four annual wine trails are a great way to explore the area’s wineries. They are February’s Valentine Wine Trail; April’s New Vintage Wine Trail; July’s Red, White and You; and October’s Hallowine Trail, for which tasters dress in Halloween costumes. Participants receive a souvenir glass and bottle of Texas wine.

“In August, people can participate in the half-day harvest event at Delaney Vineyards,” said Lisa Samuel, media relations manager at the Grapevine Convention and Visitors Bureau. “They gather grapes, put them into barrels and stomp them, but that juice isn’t actually used in production.”

Delaney Vineyards and Winery, reminiscent of an 18th-century French chateau, sits on 10 acres and bottles red wine from its Cynthiana grapes.

Grapefest, the largest wine festival in the Southwest, held each September, also features grape-stomping, along with a wide array of other activities, wine-tasting, food booths, and arts and crafts booths.

Each April, the Grapevine Vintage railroad hosts a three-hour wine-and-dinner train journey featuring live music. The train is pulled by Puffy, the company’s historic 1896 steam engine. The two-hour Christmas ride celebrates with music, caroling, mulled wine, candies from a local chocolatier and wine tastings.

Throughout the year, the Grapevine Wine Tour shuttles guests to three tasting rooms while a guide recounts winemaking history in North Texas. Lunch or dinner is included, plus a swing by historic Grapevine township’s art galleries, shops and restaurants.

www.grapevinetexasusa.com

Fredericksburg
Fredericksburg Wine Road 290, an association of nine Texas wineries along U.S. Highway 290 on either side of Fredericksburg, boasts some of the best and most-liked wines in Texas.

“Within about a 45-minute drive, visitors can explore the different wineries,” said Daryl Whitworth, assistant director of the Fredericksburg Convention and Visitor Bureau. “Many groups use Texas Wine Tours for the day, which can include lunch.”

Award-winning Becker Winery hosts vintner dinners, lunches and receptions in its 1,800-square-foot Lavender Haus. The patio veranda hosts standing receptions and small dinner parties.

Acres of blooming lavender draw crowds in May and June. Becker Vineyards’ Annual Lavender Festival, held in May, features speakers, herb-related products, gardening tips, wine-tasting and luncheons.

“The festival celebrates the end of the lavender harvest,” said Nichole Bendele, public relations and tasting room coordinator at Becker Vineyards. “Lavender is a cousin to rosemary and sage, and guest chefs prepare innovative dishes like lavender dinner rolls, punch or creme brulee.”

Grape Creek Vineyards, one of the county’s older vineyards, offers a Tuscan-style winery with a tasting room and a patio under large live oaks overlooking the vineyards.

Pedernales Cellars, one of the newer wineries, produces superpremium wines. Pursuing green practices, the facility uses geothermal heating under an earthen roof to house its 4,000-square-foot manufacturing and storage facilities.

Windy Winery grows Lenoir, or black Spanish grapes, and Blanc du Bois and Champanel grapes and bottles them on site, along with its extremely popular red and white muscadine varietals. Group tours sample its wines in the winery’s Western-motif tasting room.

On Saturdays, local bands play blues and light rock. A crawfish boil ushers in spring, grape stomps follow in summer, and autumn’s chili cookoff features deer, elk and traditional chili.

www.fredericksburg-texas.com

For more about Texas:

Even the outdoors is bigger
From pop art to Picasso
It’s high time for a Lone Star wine tasting

Elizabeth Hey

Elizabeth Hey is a member of Midwest Travel Journalists Association and has received numerous awards for her writing and photography. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook @travelbyfork.

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