Bluebonnet Trail: Retreat Hill Cellars & Impromptu Visual Tasting

Amazingly enough, this road trip was not my idea.  Julie had noticed that the Bluebonnet Trail wineries were hosting a wine pairing weekend and giving away wineglass charms at each winery, and also noticed that there are two wineries on the trail that we haven’t visited, so we could kill two birds with one stone.

Our first stop: Retreat Hill Cellars.  Julie and I have been here a couple of times before, but had missed being able to taste the popular 1836 Riesling. We soon found out why they sell out so quickly (review and visual tasting to come) and were able to grab two of the last three bottles in stock. I also tasted the Alamo Red, a blend of Texas grapes. Continue reading

Visual Tasting: Alamosa 2010 Tio Pancho Ranch Viognier

I decided to try a Visual Tasting of a white wine tonight just to see what it looks like. Which white to taste wasn’t a difficult decision either: Alamosa 2010 Tio Pancho Ranch Viognier. To date this is still my favorite Viognier- one that I can pour, sit, sip, and savor. Most other viogniers that I have tasted scream to be paired with food, but Jim Johnson’s very-lightly-oaked-wine stands perfectly well alone and on its own merit. Continue reading

Visual Tasting: Alamosa Wine Cellars 2006 Texacaia

I think Jim Johnson must like “sleepers”.

When we visited Alamosa Wine Cellars in Bend, Texas – that was before they had the tasting room in Lampasas, I was completely fascinated with his still-in-the-barrel Viognier, but not overly impressed with the red wines we tasted. I bought a few bottles of the 2006 Texacaia because it was interesting, but completely “didn’t get” the Palette.

Several months later, Julie and I had the opportunity to share a meal with Jim and he opened a bottle of Palette for us saying, “This is a SERIOUS wine.” As the meal progressed, that bottle continued to open, and when I sampled the remainder of the bottle that he sent home with us the following day, it had REALLY OPENED UP and was some of the best wine I have ever tasted.

A couple of days ago I pulled one of the bottles of Texacaia and decided to see if it, like the Palette, was a “sleeper”. Continue reading

Sandstone Cellars IV and Introducing Visual Tasting

We haven’t been able to travel much lately, but with the cellar set up and my wine collection on a roll, I think it’s time to review many of the incredible varieties and blends that we have acquired on our past winery visits. One of my favorite weekend trips was spent with Don Pullum visiting wineries in Mason, Pontotoc, and Junction; and savoring the many wines that he has crafted for them, so tonight I decided to open a bottle of Sandstone Cellars 2006 “IV”, a Port-style blend of Touriga,Tempranillo, Barbera, and Viognier. Continue reading

William Chris – Friends, Food, and Wine

Last weekend, Julie and I had the pleasure and privilege to attend a gathering of Texas food and wine writers at William Chris Vineyards. The timing for the event was perfect as we really needed a weekend away to relax and recharge, and we are grateful to have been invited by Bill and Chris. Continue reading

Valley Mills Vineyards and Winery, and a TxWineGeek First.

We hadn’t even intended to visit any wineries on Sunday, but we had, surprisingly, gotten up early considering it was the Daylight Saving Time switch day, and weren’t quite ready to head home. We looked in the App for a winery we haven’t seen, and not too far. Valley Mills Vineyard.

When Julie found Valley Mills while researching for Texas Wine Traveller, she was pretty excited. She had worked for one of the owners, Dr. Peper for a while before moving to Houston. We thought that was pretty cool. Continue reading

Bella Vista Ranch Vineyard, Winery – and Olive Oil

photo courtesy of Laura@wayoutwestaustin.com

I know this is a sad admission, but I really didn’t want to go. Julie and I had driven to Hye on Saturday for the William Chris 2nd anniversary dinner and even though they were going to open up their “library” to wine club members Sunday afternoon, I just wanted to go home. I really enjoy driving to wineries and spending time with winemakers, but it was just one of those days.

I also have this “thing” about driving the same roads over and over, so I will often take side roads just for the change in scenery, so when we got to Dripping Springs, I turned right and headed south on TX 12. What was I thinking…  Continue reading

A Day with Don Pullum – and a New Texas Wine Trail

Every winemaker has a different story, just like every wine they make. What impresses us most about the winemakers that we meet is the passion that they have for the land, the grapes, and the wine. I can’t remember a winemaker that we have met that doesn’t grow or hasn’t grown their own fruit, so their care for wine covers the entire lifecycle.

We have known Don Pullum for several months through Twitter and the #TxWine Twitter Tuesdays, but I haven’t really paid much attention or connected all the dots to understand his impact on Texas wine. His Twitter “handle” is @akashicvineyard, but I hadn’t heard of the vineyard, and he never mentioned owning a winery – but he sure talked a lot about Sandstone Cellars wines. Yes, I can be pretty dense sometimes. Continue reading

Hilmy Cellars – Grand Opening, Day 2

12:19 pm
Julie and I are at Hilmy Cellars for day 2 of their Grand Opening, and today they are hosting Russ Kane, well-known Texas wine writer and author of The Wineslinger Chronicles. The doors are open and customers are enjoying tastings while Russ sets up – he will be signing his book and talking about Texas wine, of course.