Texas by the Book: A Texas food & wine dinner with 3 Texas authors

Terry Anderson On Friday February 27, 2015, the Cabernet Grill  in Fredericksburg, TX, will host a celebratory early-spring Texas wine dinner featuring fine Texas cuisine  prepared from recipes from the new cookbooks by chef and author Terry Thompson-Anderson and chef Ross Burtwell.  Russell Kane author of the new book, Texas Hill Country Wineries, will pair Texas wine with the dinner.

The dinner includes a six-course gourmet meal with each course paired with a Texas wine, which will be presented by principals from Duchman Family Winery, Grape Creek Vineyards, Texas Hills Vineyard, Pedernales Cellars,  Bending Branch Winery and Brennan Vineyards.

Chef Ross BurtwellAttendees will receive signed copies of each of the three books:

Russ KaneMenu:

Oysters Shrimphooley –

Fresh pecan-smoked Gulf oysters on the half shell topped with a mélange of

Shrimp, garlic, butter and Parmesan

Duchman Family Winery Vermentino

Jumbo Lump Crabmeat Soup with Avocado and Curry & Lime –

Giant lumps of backfin blue crab meat and an avocado wedge swimming

In a heady broth of curry, ginger, coconut milk, and lime, then napped with Scallion Coulis

Grape Creek Vineyards Cuvee Blanc

Crisped Kitchen Pride (Texas) Portabella Mushroom –

Breaded with panko breadcrumbs, then flash-fried and served on a

Bed of chiffonade romaine lettuce, drizzled with red pepper aioli and crowned with

A nest of tiny-dice pico de gallo

Served with

Pan de Campo –

“Camp bread” designated the official bread of the State of Texas by the Texas Legislature

And signed into law by Governor Rick Perry in 2005

Texas Hills Vineyard Sangiovese


A Surprise Course to Delight the Palate


Certified Angus Beef Tenderloin Steak topped with a Sauce of

Aged Brazos Valley Brie Cheese and Shitake Mushrooms

Pederanales Cellars Tempranillo

Smoked Wild Boar Leg with a complex Blackberry Mustard Sauce

On a bed of Soft Polenta with Jalapeños & Onions

Bending Branch Winery 2012 Texas Tannat

Salt & Pepper Chocolate Panna Cotta –

A sinfully delicious concoction of heavy cream, chocolate, caramel, and port wine studded with sea salt flakes and topped with port-wine macerated sun-dried strawberries and a dusting of Freshly ground black pepper

Brennan Vineyards Portejas

The dinner is $250.00 per couple (one set of books) or $150.00 per person plus tax and 18% gratuity on the meal. NOTE: Reservations Only. Reservation deadline is Tuesday, February 24, 2015. Tickets for this event are available from Cabernet Grill by phone: 830-990-5734 with credit card.

What are you drinking? 

8 Texas wineries to explore off the beaten path

Perissos VineyardThe popular wineries clustered along U.S. Route 290 and near Fredericksburg regularly draw big crowds to their tasting rooms. While these wineries are great, there are several hidden gems just a short drive from Austin. On January 17 and 18, the Top of the Hill Country Wine Trail held a barrel tasting event from the 2014 harvest to highlight a handful of off the beaten path local wineries.

Located along the northern edge of the Texas Hill Country appellation, these wineries are worth the exploring for their picturesque scenery and laid-back experience. You won’t find much traffic on the way to visit or long lines at the tasting room bars, but you will find gracious people pouring tasty wines. The Top of the Hill Country Wine Trail includes Perissos VineyardsFall Creek VineyardsWedding Oak WineryAlamosa Wine CellarsFiesta Vineyard and Winery, Texas Legato WineryPillar Bluff Vineyards and Pilot Knob Vineyard.

Take a tour and try these wines.

Perissos Vineyards

Perissos Wine
Located in Burnet, Perissos Vineyards is situated in a gorgeous valley adjacent to Inks Lake about an hour drive from Austin. Its vineyards (and picturesque pastures populated with lazy horses) are nestled in beautiful hills. Designed and built by former custom homebuilder turned winemaker Seth Martin, the lovely winery and tasting room would be right at home in California wine country. Perissos makes its award winning red, white and rosé wines with 100 percent Texas grown fruit, 80 percent of which is grown on its 16-acre vineyard.

Try the 2013 Italian Stallion, a red blend of Aglianico, Dolcetto and Montepulciano. It won gold medal at the 2015 Houston Rodeo International Wine Competition for its bright, juicy, red berry flavors. It sells for $45 per bottle in the tasting room.

Fall Creek Vineyards

Sergio Cuadra Fall Creek
Fall Creek Vineyards calls the shores of Lake Buchanan home. The elegant winery is about an hour and a half drive from Austin and a great place to relax for an afternoon sipping wine and enjoying the scenic waterfalls. Founded in 1973 by Ed and Susan Auler, Fall Creek is one of the oldest wineries in Texas and has developed a statesman like status over the years. New winemaker Sergio Cuadra brings a scientist’s approach to growing grapes and an artist’s touch to making wine.

Try the 2012 Fall Creek Vineyards GSM, a French Rhone style blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre grapes, with bold blackberry, raspberry and cranberry flavors and a smoky finish. It sells for $46 in the tasting room.

Wedding Oak Winery

Mike McHenry Wedding Oak Winery


Wedding Oak Winery located smack in the middle of the quaint town of San Saba, brings quality wine to small town Texas. A little more than an hour and a half drive from Austin, this relatively new winery has been making wines with Texas-grown grapes since 2010. The historic 1926 tasting room and adjacent winery has been restored with the charm you would expect from the era. The light, open tasting room and tranquil courtyard make a great place to sip away the hours.

Try the Albariño 2013, a crisp and vibrant white wine made with a grape typically grown in North West Spain. A fresh floral scent and lemon and peach flavors make it a perfect afternoon wine. It goes for $23 in the tasting room.

Alamosa Wine Cellar

Jim Johnson Alamosa
Alamosa Wine Cellars is nestled in a valley in San Saba County near the little town of Bend, about an hour and half drive from Austin. Started in 1998 by native Texan and California wine industry veteran Jim Johnson and his wife Karen, the winery specializes in wines made with grapes that love warm climates like Tempranillo, Viognier, Syrah, Graciano and Sangiovese. The winery’s cozy tasting room sneakily sucks the stress away and blurs the time.

Try the 2011 El Guapo, a bold Tempranillo named for its handsome taste. This wine was introduced in 1999 and was the first commercially made Tempranillo in the state. The current vintage has juicy cherry and herbal tobacco flavors and sells for $24 in the tasting room.

Fiesta Vineyard and Winery

Wes McCoury Fiesta Winery


Fiesta Vineyard and Winery is tucked away on a massive ranch in Bend, Texas about an hour and a half drive from Austin. While the winery is only five years old, the Baxter Ranch has been in the family for six generations — since the 1840s. The estate vineyards produce a wide variety of grapes that do well in the Texas heat. Known for its sweet wines, this up and coming winery is using its state of the art equipment to crank out 11,000 cases of wine a year, including dry styles. The tasting room is the Baxter family’s converted game room, and you’ll feel just at home in it with the family as you would around their dinner table.

Try the Fiesta Winery Country Road, a blend of Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and a few other red grapes, aged in neutral oak barrels. It’s an easy going red with a serious side with deep blackberry and currant flavors. It sells for $30.


Texas Legato Winery

Texas Legato Winery sits in a lovely valley outside Lampasas about an hour drive from Austin. The petite winery makes wine from grapes grown in its six acre vineyards. If you travel in a big pack, the tasting room may not hold all of you, but never fear, the deck with vineyard views will hold everyone.

Try the 2012 Petite Sirah, a dark and brooding wine with rich flavors of black plum chocolate and black pepper. It sells for $23.

Pillar Bluff Vineyards

Pillar Bluff Vineyards


Pillar Bluff Vineyards located next door to Texas Legato with abutting vineyards and owned and operated by Gill Bledsoe, who is the twin brother of the Texas Legato Winery owner, Bill Bledsoe. The boutique winery makes 1,200 cases of wines made with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petite Verdot grapes. The petite tasting room has the grace and ease to transport you through hours and the glasses of wine.

Try the 2011 Tempranillo, a spicy red wine with Bing cherry and milk chocolate flavors with a zippy acidic backbone. It sells for $23.

Pilot Knob Vineyard

Pinkley Family at Pilot Knob


Pilot Knob Vineyard is easy to find just off of US Hwy 183 in Bertram, TX less than an hour drive Northwest of Austin. The handsome, huge new stone and timber tasting room sits on a ridge giving it sweeping views of 112 acres of vineyards and the Texas Hill Country surrounding it. The winery was started in 2011 by Craig Pinkley, after he fell in love with the wine industry while on a business trip to Napa. You’re likely to run into his wife and kids working in the tasting room with smiles as big as the view.

Try the Pilot Knob Vineyard, Texas Hill Country, Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, 2012. This fragrant wine has blackberry, blue berry and green pepper flavors with rosemary undertones. It’s elegant, but not too fussy to sit outside and take in the sights. It sells for $45.

While the Top of the Hill Country Wine Trail organizes day trips to visit all eight wineries, I recommend taking them just a few at a time. Each winery offers its own version of relaxation. No need to hurry.

An abbreviated version of this story was originally published on CultureMap.

 Disclosure: I was provided a tour with transportation and samples at no cost. In addition, Wedding Oak Winery is a client of my marketing firm, Pen & Tell US. I was not involved in the planning or execution of the event. 

 What are you drinking?

Texas Monthly’s exclusive new club delivers state’s best wine to your door

Fall Creek Chardonnay

Whether it is for barbecue or tacos, people have long looked to Texas Monthly as an arbiter of iconic Texas flavors. Now the publication is putting its stamp of approval on the best Texas wines with its own Texas wine club.

The TM Wine Club will send quarterly shipments of Texas wines that have been selected by Texas Monthly contributor (and former CultureMap Austin food editor) Jessica Dupuy.

Dupuy says that by starting the wine club, the magazine is getting behind something that Texans can be proud of. “Texas Monthly is a rare publication in that it represents a regional culture with a national presence. The Texas Wine Club is just one of many ways it represents that regional culture.”

Whether people are Texas wine lovers, exploring Texas wines for the first time, or trying to overcome a negative bias they have, the club is a great way to find some of the best wines in the state. Dupuy evaluates wines throughout the year and will share her selections not only through the pages of the publication but also through the club. She certainly has the qualifications to identify good wine as a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers as well as Certified Specialist of Wine through the Society of Wine Educators.

“I’m often asked about which Texas wines people should be drinking,” says Dupuy. “Many times the wines I’d like to recommend aren’t easy to find. With the momentum behind the Texas Monthly annual Best Texas Wines List, we are giving people an opportunity to get a hold of some of the wines from the list. Many of the wines are already sold-out or aren’t available in retail stores, so it’s a great way to share these wines with people.”

The first shipment will include wines from the Best Texas Wines of 2014 list, which was published in December. Since the wines are limited, it will be a six-bottle mixed case of different wine selections from both large and small producers based on availability. The limited availability of some wines means many of the shipments will differ from others.

All wines in the first few shipments will be Texas Appellation wines. In the future, the TM Wine Club shipments may include wines from other regions of the world as comparisons to the Texas varieties. For example, a shipment could include Texas Tempranillo with a couple of Spanish Tempranillo wines, or Texas Sangiovese with a couple of Italian Sangiovese wines so that members can see how Texas wines fare on the world stage.

Photo by Miguel Lecuona


“There are a number of large producers in the state with great wine, and even more small producers making amazing wine,” Dupuy explains. “We’re interested in spotlighting a good variety of wineries that are making a difference in pushing Texas wine forward as an industry. This is the first club of its kind. Not only are we answering the question of what Texas wines to drink, but we’ve found a way to get them in the hands of people are interested. I’m not aware of any other publication doing a California wine club, an Oregon wine club, etc.”

TM Wine Club shipments will occur in February, April, October and December. For members, each shipment is $150. Wine lovers can also purchase a one-time delivery for $175.

This story was originally published on CultureMap.

What are you drinking? 

Texas Fine Wine intends to pour its way into the hearts of Sommeliers at 10TH anniversary TEXSOM


It’s always hard to overcome negative perceptions. The Texas wine industry has that problem. Despite several years of massive quality improvements that have brought home trophies and medals in prestigious competitions, Texas wine is still roundly seen as sub-par. One bad experience years ago could cause a wine lover to turn their nose up at all Texas wine.

A group of Texas wine makers is out to change that perception with a united effort to let consumers and wine experts taste just how good Texas wines are. Texas Fine Wine will co-host with Texas Monthly a hospitality suite on Sunday, August 10, at TEXSOM, the world’s largest education conference for wine professionals. The group, whose members include Bending Branch WineryBrennan VineyardsDuchman Family Winery and Pedernales Cellars, hopes to let sommeliers taste the quality for themselves. Texas Fine Wine will also pour wines for guests attending the August 11 Grand Tasting.

Fredrik Österberg Perdenales Cellars“Our focus is to bring more attention to fine wines made in Texas that can be found on the wine lists of some of the best restaurants and wine stores in the state,” says Fredrik Osterberg, co-owner of Pedernales Cellars. “We are truly grateful for the outpouring of support from the sommelier community for our wines. Sponsoring TEXSOM is one way for us to recognize the support of that community.”

Texas Fine Wine is a privately funded marketing initiative led by group of Texas wineries dedicated to producing quality wines sourced from Texas appellation vineyards. This group has held special wine tasting events and for the second year will woo some of the world’s best sommeliers at TEXSOM. The backing of Texas Monthly magazine certainly helps raise the group’s profile.

“Texas Monthly is sponsoring a hospitality suite along with Texas Fine Wines as a continuation of the magazine’s involvement with TEXSOM last year,” says Jessica Dupuy, Texas Monthly wine columnist. “Each of the wineries showcased at the suite had wines selected in the 2013 list of Texas Monthly’s Best Texas Wines. There will also be a few other wineries spotlighted from this list at the conference’s Monday evening Grand Tasting including McPherson Cellars, Spicewood Vineyards, and William Chris Vineyards. We continue to see great strides in the quality of Texas wines and this is a perfect opportunity to share these wines with a national community of influential wine professionals.”

Jessica Dupuy Texas Monthly

Check out this fat list of awards amassed by Texas Fine Wine wineries in the past few years:

Brennan Vineyards

  • Gold, 2010 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Newburg Vineyard, 2014 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition
  • Gold, 2011 Tempranillo, San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition
  • Gold, 2011 Tempranillo, 2014 Dallas Morning News/TEXSOM Competition
  • Gold, W Winemakers Choice NV, 2014 Riverside International Wine Competition

Bending Branch Winery

  • Gold, 2011 Texas Tannat, 2014 Dallas Morning News/TEXSOM Competition
  • Top Texas Wine (Class Champion and Double Gold), 2011 Tannat, Estate Grown, Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo
  • Double Gold,  2011 Tannat-CM, Estate Grown, Appellation America’s Best of Appellation Awards
  • Double Gold-, 2011 Tempranillo, Newsom Vineyards, Appellation America’s Best of Appellation Awards
  • Double Gold, 2012 Picpoul Blanc, Estate Grown, Appellation America’s Best of Appellation Awards
  • Gold, 2011 Mourvedre, Reddy Vineyards, Appellation America’s Best of Appellation Awards

 Duchman Family Winery

  • Gold, 2011 Aglianico, Oswald Vineyard, 2014 San Francisco International Wine Competition
  • Gold, 2011 Sangiovese, Reddy Vineyard, 2014 Dallas Morning News/TEXSOM Competition
  • Gold, 2011 Sangiovese, Martin Vineyard, 2014 Dallas Morning News/TEXSOM Competition
  • Gold, 2011 Tempranillo, Bayer Vineyard, 2014 Lone Star International Wine Competition

 Pedernales Cellars

  • Double Gold, 2012 Tempranillo Reserve, 2014 San Francisco International Wine Competition
  •  Gold, 2011 Texas Tempranillo, 2014 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition
  • Gold and Best in Class, 2010 High Plains Tempranillo, 2014 International East Meets West Wine Challenge
  • Gold, 2012 Texas GSM, 2014 International East Meets West Wine Challenge
  •  Gold, 2012 George Bush 25th Anniversary Reserve Texas Tempranillo, 2014 International East Meets West Wine Challenge


What are you drinking?

Texas winemakers hold ‘The Sip, Season One’ blind tasting event

First flight of wine for The Sip Season OneDoes Texas wine deserve a place on your table? Does it perform well enough to earn a spot on the world stage? That is exactly what a group of seven family-owned wineries set out to demonstrate a comparative blind tasting event, The Sip, Season One.

Winemakers from Fall Creek Vineyards, Inwood Estates, Perissos Vineyards, Pontotoc Vineyard, Sandstone Cellars, Spicewood Vineyards and Stone House Vineyards poured Texas wines and similar wines from other regions in a blind tasting session held for wine buyers, restaurateurs, sommeliers and journalists. Each guest was asked to keep their own tasting notes and describe the wines during the flights. The wines were not scored, nor were written tasting notes submitted to the winemakers.

Guests evaluated wines in two flights of 8. The winemakers revealed the wines after each flight and discussed the production and shared insights about each wine. Wines poured included:

Flight 1:

  1. Fall Creek Vineyards, 2013 Sauvignon Blanc Texas
  2. Fall Creek Comparative –  2012 St. Supery Sauvignon Blanc
  3. Inwood Estate, 2012 Palomino
  4. Perissos Vineyards, 2010 Roussanne Blend
  5. Spicewood Vineyards, 2012 Viognier, Texas High Plains
  6. Spicewood Vineyards, 2012 Tempranillo, Texas Hill Country Estate
  7. Perissos Vineyards, 2012 Aglianico
  8. Pontotoc Vineyard 2012 San Fernanado Academy

Flight 2:

  1. 2010 Perrin & Fils Châteauneuf du Pape Les Sinards, France
  2. Fall Creek Vineyards,  2012 GSM Salt Lick Vineyard
  3. Stone House Vineyards, Claros Norton Reserve 2012
  4. Numanthia, 2009 Tinta de Toro, Spain
  5. Inwood Estate, 2012 Cornelious Reserve
  6. Stone House Vineyards, Scheming Beagle Port NV
  7. Sandstone Cellars XIII (a non vintage port)
  8. Kopke 2003 Vintage Port, Portugal

The Sip grew from a shared passion by the winemakers to let people taste their wine in a group setting. The idea originated when these wineries participated in the Texas Fall Fest & Wine Auction.

Each of the seven wineries shares a commitment to making high-quality wines that express the terroir of Texas. The line-up demonstrated that a variety of grapes can be used to make wines expressive of the terroir across the state.

“We are a representative group of family owned Texas wineries, fully engrossed in the evolution of the emerging Texas wine industry’s drive to produce hand-crafted benchmark wines for the world stage,” said Ed Auler, founder of Fall Creek Vineyards. “We are all boutique, family-owned vineyards and wineries who organized this event to allow people to taste the excellence of Texas wines in comparison to wines from around the world.”

There may be a Season Two for The Sip.


More photos are available on Flickr.

Disclosure: I was one of the organizers of this event and participated as the emcee.

What are you drinking? 

Texas Wines Showcased at TEXSOM

TEXSOM,  an industry conference dedicated to the education of top beverage professionals in Texas and around the world, will feature an all Texas wine hospitality suite for the first time ever. What? A three day conference presented by the Wine & Food Foundation of Texas and the Texas Sommelier Association hasn’t always been about Texas wine? Well, not exactly. It has dozen’s of educational sessions about wine from all over the world. I’m thrilled to see our home state getting a showcase in front of this stellar audience.

Instead of doing a full blog post, I’m just going to paste the official press release for you to read (yeah I’m totally lazy):


 Sponsored by Texas Monthly, Suite to Feature Four Premier Wineries Pouring Award-Winning Wines and Consumer Favorites


Pedernales Cellars at TEXSOMAUSTIN, Texas (July 19, 2013) – For the first time ever, four of the Lone Star State’s most distinguished wineries have joined together to host a “Taste Texas Wines” hospitality suite at the 9th annual TEXSOM, a two-day educational and tasting conference for sommeliers and wine buyers, enthusiasts and educators.  Featuring only Texas appellation wines, the Taste Texas Wines hospitality suite is Sunday, August 11 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. for registered TEXSOM conference attendees.

Sponsored by Texas Monthly, the Taste Texas Wines hospitality suite features wines that were recognized as “Best Texas Wines of 2012,” which included 10 red and 10 white wines from Texas appellations.

Brennan VineyardsDuchman Family WineryMcPherson Cellars and Pedernales Cellars will share some of their finest wines, all of which have received national and international acclaim at prestigious wine competitions, and represent some of the best wines produced in Texas.   The owners of these wineries will be available at the suite to discuss their wines and the growing Texas wine industry.

James Tidwell, Drew Hendricks, TEXSOM Founders“We are happy that these four wineries have banded together to promote not only the individual wineries, but also the dynamic Texas wine industry as a whole,” says James Tidwell, MS, TEXSOM co-founder.  “While TEXSOM is an international conference, Texas wineries have a significant presence at the various events and activities, including the Grand Tasting and Awards Reception and educational seminars. The Taste Texas Wines Hospitality Suite is a natural extension that allows even more wine professionals from around the world to experience Texas wines and winemakers.”

Tidwell notes that Brennan Vineyards 2011 Lily as well as the Pedernales Cellars 2012 Viognier and 2010 High Plains Tempranillo won gold medals at the 2013Dallas Morning News and TEXSOM Wine Competition.

In addition, at the 2013 Lyon France International Wine Competition, Pedernales Cellars received grand gold for its 2012 Viognier Reserve.  At the 2013 Pacific Rim Wine Competition, McPherson Cellars was awarded gold and best in class for its 2012 Dry Chenin and Brennan Vineyards received gold for its 2011 Tempranillo.  Brennan Vineyards also won the chairman’s award (unanimous gold) for its 2011 Dark Horse at the 2013 Riverside International Wine Competition.

At the 2013 San Francisco International Wine Competition, McPherson Cellars and Pedernales Cellars both earned gold medals for their 2011 La Herencia and 2011 Tempranillo Reserve, respectively.  Taking home silver at the competition was Pedernales for its 2011 GSM; Duchman Family Winery for its 2011 Trebbiano and 2011 Dolcetto, as well as bronze for its Tempranillo; and Brennan Vineyards earned silver for its 2012 Viognier, as well as bronze for its 2012 White Rhône Blend and 2011 Tempranillo.

At the 2013 Lone Star International Wine Competition, the Brennan Vineyards won gold and grand star award for its 2012 Lily; Pedernales Cellars won double gold for both its 2010 High Plains Tempranillo and 2010 Tempranillo Reserve and gold for its 2011 GSM ; and McPherson Cellars received gold for its 2012 Les Copains.

At the 2013 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo International Wine Competition, Pedernales Cellars won double gold, Top Texas Wine, Class Champion and Texas Class Champion awards for its 2012 Texas Viognier, as well as gold for its 2010 Texas Tempranillo.

TEXSOM attendees will enjoy many of these award-winning wines and others at the Taste Texas Wines Hospitality Suite.  Here is a complete list of wines that will be poured:

  • Brennan Vineyards

–  2012 Viognier
–  2012 Lily
–  2011 Dark Horse
–  2011 Tempranillo
–  2010 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

  • Duchman Family Winery

−        2011 Trebbiano
−        2011 Viognier
−        2011 Dolcetto
−        2011 Tempranillo

  •  McPherson Cellars

−        2012 Les Copains
−        2011 La Herencia
−        2012 Dry Rosé Vin Gris
−        2012 Dry Chenin
−        2010 Sangiovese

  •  Pedernales Cellars

−        2012 Viognier
−        2012 Viognier Reserve
−        2011 Texas Tempranillo
−        2010 Texas High Plains Tempranillo
−        2011 GSM


For more information about the Taste Texas Wines hospitality suite and the Texas wine industry go to www.TasteTexasWines.com

What are you drinking? 

Cowboys + Gauchos is a Carnivore and Wine Lover Paradise


Boar's Head at Cowboys + GauchosHundreds of hungry Texans filled the grounds of the Salt Lake Pavilion on Sunday, February 24, for the Wine & Food Foundation of Texas’ third annual Cowboys + Gauchos. It was fantastic event featuring whole roasted antelope, wild boar, goat and lamb as well as dozens of wine from Texas, Uruguay and Argentina. Check out my previous story on What Are You Drinking?

Here are a few of the scenes from the event.

What are you drinking?


Cowboys + Gauchos showcases Texan and Southern American cuisine at Salt Lick Pavilion

Nothing is more quintessentially Texan than the cowboy. This Sunday, February 24, cowboy culture from Texas and South America will be on display in all its finery at the Salt Lick Pavilion at Cowboys + Gauchos, an event hosted by the Wine and Food Foundation of Texas.

From 12 p.m. to 4 p.m., the public is invited to don boots and cowboy hats, while feasting on antelope, lamb and wild boar that have been roasted whole over open fires. There will be plenty of wine from more than a dozen Texan and Uruguayan wineries to wash it down. I have to say this is definitely one of my favorite food and wine events of the year. There is a sick amount of excellent food, the location is incredibly chill and the people are in a great mood. Check out my photos from last year’s event.

In its third year, Cowboys + Gauchos brings together several prominent chefs to show off impressive traditional Texan and Southern American cooking techniques, such as roasting whole animals on giant iron rigs. The event was inspired by Francis Mallmann’s book Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way, and brought to life by Wine & Food Foundation of Texas Board Member, Howard Kells.

Roast pig at Cowboys + GauchosKells was fascinated by the concept of bringing together Texas and South American barbecue and wines in an outdoor event. He successfully built his own enormous iron grilling structure, patterned after Mallmann’s, and has cooked  a whole calf and whole elk at past Cowboys + Gauchos events.

This year guests will feast on South Texas Nilgai Antelope from Broken Arrow Ranch, lambs and a wild boar from IO Ranch and South Texas style cabrito prepared by Chef Jack Gilmore (Jack Allen’s Kitchen). The mouth-watering spectacle of roast meats continues with pork bellies from El Chile, beef tongue cooked by El Alma and various other treats from Café Josie, Fore, Live Oak Barbecue, Estancia Churrascaria and Sentelli’s Sweets.

Game guide and outdoor chef, Christopher “Tink” Pinkard, will roast a 100 pound pig. “I will start cooking my pig at 4 a.m. on my portable Cuban-style grill using mesquite for heat and pecan for smoke. Before cooking it I’ll brine the pig in a mixture of salt, sugar and water for 72 hours, which keeps it nice and moist,” says Pinkard. He recommends Pinot Noir or Cabernet to pair with his boar, but acknowledges beer is a great choice, too. “I can’t cook those pigs for eight to 10 hours without a beer.”

Live music and wineries will ensure a festive scene in the pavilion. Guest can try a selection of wine from Texas wineries such as Cap Rock Winery, David Mayfield Selections, Duchman Family Winery, Fall Creek Vineyards, Flat Creek Estate Winery, Hye Meadow Winery, Pedernales Cellars, Spicewood Vineyards and William Chris Vineyards. This year there will also be five wineries from Uruguay on hand including Juanico Famila Deicas, Gimenez Mendez Eco Valley Wines, Pizzorno Wines Don Pascual, Bodega Bouza and Bodega Marichal.

Gary Knippa at Cowboys + Gauchos“This is the first time that so many Uruguayan wines have been assembled in one place to be tasted in the U.S. Guests at Cowboys + Gauchos will be the first people in Texas to taste them. It is a great event for Uruguayan wines because the gaucho culture is prevalent in the country,” says David Furer, the Wines of Uruguay spokesman and wine journalist.

“Wineries will pour up to 20 various wines including Sauvignon Blanc, which is [an] up-and-coming white wine in Uruguay, along with Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Merlot and Syrah. Of course there will be a prevalence of Tannat, which is the signature grape of Uruguay. It makes a full bodied wine that goes well with rich grilled and barbecue red meat.”

Tickets are available on Wine & Food Foundation of Texas site for $65 per person. Proceeds from the event will support up-and-coming chefs, sommeliers and excellence in the culinary and viticulture arts through scholarships and the underwriting of the TexSom beverage conference.

This story was originally on CultureMap.

What are you drinking?

Escape F1 madness with a Hill Country getaway to the Texas Fall Fest & Wine Auction

The Horseshoe Bay Resort MarriottThis weekend the exotic Formula 1 racing cars will roar into Austin for the first time ever. Out of the crush of traffic and blare of the lights, another elegant event is happening in Central Texas. The 8th Annual Texas Fall Fest & Wine Auction brings together 18 wineries and 14 chefs from the Hill Country on Nov. 16 – 17 at the Horseshoe Bay Yacht Club.

Texas wine pioneer and co-owner of Fall Creek Vineyards, Susan Auler, helped start the Fall Fest as a way to focus attention exclusively on Hill Country food and wine.

“The beverage director of the Horseshoe Bay Resort Marriott asked me to create a festival to raise the profile of Texas wine,” Auler explains. “I was chosen because of my work to start and run the larger Texas Hill Country Wine and Food Festival in Austin (the precursor to the Austin Food & Wine Festival). We wanted a more intimate event that didn’t compete with the larger festival, and was easier for the winemakers to attend.”

Susan and Ed AulerNot only did the event help shine a spotlight on Texas wine, but it also played a role in putting the industry on the map. Literally. Auler says, “At the time we started the festival, we were working on gaining an official American Viticultural Area (AVA) designation for the Texas Hill Country wineries. One of criteria to establish an AVA was to have a region known as having a wine culture. Holding an event right in the heart of the Hill Country and focused the importance of Texas wine and food by bringing together some of the best wines, foods, chefs and restaurants in the Hill country did just that.”

Fall Fest has a decidedly different format and feel than its sister festival held in tents in a park in Austin. Spread over two days, Fall Fest has three main events taking place at the Horseshoe Bay and in the city of Marble Falls.

The casual Sunset Stroll Farm to Market Wine Fair will be held on Friday, Nov. 16, featuring wine and food tastings in a marketplace of Hill Country wineries and Central Texas restaurants. Nibbles from restaurants like Cabernet Grill, Café Josie, Jack Allen’s Kitchen, Navajo Grill, Quality Seafood Market, River City Grille and Siena Restaurant Toscana will be served with wine from local vineyards such as 4.0 Cellars, Cap-Rock Winery, Inwood Estates Vineyards, and many more. For the second year, specialty food and merchandise from 17 artisans will be available for purchase.

Chef Josh WatkinsFall Fest resumes on Saturday afternoon with the Formula 1: Texas Wine & Food Trail on Historic Main Street in Marble Falls with appetizers paired with a selection of Texas wines poured by a dozen winemakers. This event started as a nod to the trailer food craze with food served at five various shops in a three block stretch of Main Street. This year the stroll has been turned into a mobile F1 watch party, with the race being shown in the participating shops.

For those of us that want to sit down and enjoy an elegant meal, the event has a Wine Dinner and Auction with four-courses prepared by Chef Josh Watkins of the Carillon and Chef Gilbert Moore of the Horseshoe Bay Marriott on Saturday night. Between main course and dessert there will be a short and sweet live auction with several wine-themed lots.

“I’m excited for the dinner. We have a wonderful menu planned, and the auction is always fun. We hold the auction to raise money for CASA of the Highland Lakes area, which supports child foster care, and Texas wine and grape research,” says Auler.

What are you drinking?


Tickets for the Texas Fall Fest are available for the full weekend for $110 or sold separately for each event. Sunset Stroll Farm to Market Wine Fair tickets are $40; Formula 1: Texas Wine & Food Trail down Old Main Street is $25; Reception, Dinner and Live Wine Auction and the Saturday afternoon trail package is $75.

This article was previously published on CultureMap.

Raising a glass to fight cancer, LIVESTRONG!

There is nothing light-hearted about cancer. However, even the most serious subjects deserve a serious party. Sometimes gathering like-minded souls together to fight a shared villain is the right thing to do. This weekend we hosted our third annual Mellow Yellow Benefit to raise a glass, and raise money and awareness for the LIVESTRONG Challenge for the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

We set out to raise $5,000 by inviting people to attend our party and make a donation to LIVESTRONG as their ticket to entry. We asked for donations of services and food and beverages to keep our costs down and to be able to donate all proceeds to the Foundation. I am moved by the outpouring of generosity I found every time I asked. To date we have raised $6,000!

Three Texas spirits companies — Republic Tequila, Tito’s Handmade Vodka and Treaty Oak Distilling Company —  gladly donated for a third year in a row. Heck, Republic Tequila also sent two beautiful bartenders and Republic Spirit Blends to set up and staff a margarita bar! They made Twisted Margaritas. Here is the recipe:

Twisted Margarita

  • 1 ½ ounces Republic Tequila
  • 1 ½ ounces Republic Jalapeño-Lime Spirit Blend
  • 1 ½ ounces Republic Prickly Pear Spirit Blend
  • Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice Shake and pour into a rocks glass

Josh Hare, brewer at Hops & Grain, sent over 10 cases of beer on the eve of his brewery’s first anniversary.

Ed and Susan Auler of Fall Creek Vineyards donated wine for a second year in a row and came to the party to wish us well and enjoy the fun. Miguel Lecuona of Fredericksburg Wine Road 290 was a tour de force gathering four cases of donated wine from seven Texas wineries and delivered them with a smile.

The house and yard looked glamorous and the food fast fantastic thanks to Suzanne Court Catering & Events, who hustled favors to get donations of goods and services. Our photography sponsor, Steve Rogers Photography, donated his time and talent to capture the fun in our LIVESTRONG photo booth (the well lit photo booth pictures below are from Steve and the candids are fom me). Chris Brewer from the Lance Armstrong Foundation made the photo booth look official by loaning us an amazing LIVESTRONG backdrop.
I appreciate the help of Stephen Moser spreading the word about the Mellow Yellow Benefit in the Austin Chronicle and Michael Barnes for sharing the love in the Austin American Statesman.
Much of the thanks for creating a memorable event yet again this year goes to Beautiful Wife. She was instrumental in converting our home in to a fun event venue.
Thank you to everyone who donated to the cause and who came to the event. You are making a difference in the lives of the more than 28 million people living with cancer. THANK YOU! 

Special thanks to all of our beverage sponsors: