Woo-hoo! While you’re pouring me a glass of Texas wine, may I suggest that we raise said glass to the Hill Country and their bumper crop of wine grapes this year? Yesterday, USA Today named the Texas Hill Country as one of just 10 great places for local wines in the US! They even went so far to call Fredericksburg, Texas a mini-Napa.
Says USA Today:
With more than 200 wineries, Texas has become a leading state for vintners. And the scenic area near Austin and San Antonio is the center of the action. Winemakers have learned that grapes from other warm-climate areas do well here, including Spanish Tempranillo, French Syrah and Italian Sangiovese, Siegel says. With all the attention, the town of Fredericksburg has become a mini-Napa with fine restaurants, shopping and bed-and-breakfasts.
If you’re looking for something different to do this weekend, you may want to head to Grapevine – just north west of DFW Airport – for Main Street Days. There really is something for everyone at this 25th annual event.
The kids can take unlimited carnival rides for $25 per person on Friday from 4:00pm – 9:00pm. The rest of the weekend, that ubiquitous festival coupon system is in effect for rides and food. Shop ‘til you drop in the many stores lining Main Street as well as the vendors selling clothing and a plethora of arts and crafts – gifts, home décor, jewelry, antiques, baked goods, stationary, yard art and Texana. Adults can enjoy the many wine pavilions set up along Main Street where you can sit and plan your next foray into the crowds. Entertainment includes music, BMX stunts, the Sky Riders’ trampoline show and Heritage Gunfighters. Musicians run the gamut from country to rock and in between. Highlights are Austin’s Derailers, the M80’s and Back in Black. Festival food encompasses the usual – funnel cakes and cotton candy and the unusual Jamaican Jerk Chicken.
If you want to get off the beaten path – a two block walk can get you miles away from the crowds – and into air conditioning in a restaurant, store or wine tasting room. Walk inside Esparza’s Restaurante’s (124 E Worth Street ) late 19th century ranch house and Grapevine landmark and you’re greeted warmly like family by the helpful staff. Sit in the back room with a large square Austin stone bar and concrete floor so you can watch the customers as you watch the game on the big-screen TV. You can smell the Tex-Mex fare. If you judge a Tex-Mex restaurant by the tortilla chips, these fresh light and crispy triangles and the tangy salsa let you know that you’re in for a special entrée. The chicken fajitas are done perfectly – the succulent chicken sizzles along with the white onion and green pepper. The accompanying guacamole is perfectly seasoned along with the pico de gallo. The refried beans have a special tang – definitely not your run of the mill beans. The borracho beans are interspersed with salt pork in a beefy broth.
A block off Main Street in a little corner of their world you’ll find Blessed Boutiques (201 East Franklin Street). Vicki McDonald has amassed a collection of hip handbags – think Ed Hardy here – and clothing both my daughters and I would wear. My girls are trendy – I trend more to the classic realm. Vicki also carries a variety of jewelry – and everything is reasonably priced. You’ll also find wall plaques with a Christian bent – tending more toward the golden rule everyone can believe in.
Grapevine is aptly named having nine winery tasting rooms in the city limits. You don’t even have to leave DFW Airport to visit La Bodega Winery (Terminals A & D) – it’s the world’s first airport winery with 30 varieties of wines to choose from. Two are outstanding – Homestead Winery (211 East Worth Street) and La Buena Vida (416 East College Street). Homestead’s tasting room is in a charming yellow 19th century Victorian home. Homestead’s Chardonnay is dry and inviting. The winery’s Desert Rose is worth a try. But, my favorite is Homestead Red – a blend of 30-30-30 Merlot, Cabernet and Pinot Noir grapes. Their Piney Wood Country Wine Cherry Chocolates is not to be missed. Yes, it tastes just as it sounds – like a Cherry Chocolate. Our hostess suggested pouring this wine as a dessert or using it to infuse a chocolate cake. Divine – if you like sweet wines. Their ports are award winning. La Buena Vida – is just as its name suggests – something for the good life. The tasting room is housed in a former church a few blocks from Main Street. They serve tapas and antipasti to accompany their wines. The chardonnay is crisp and fruity. The Cabernet is lighter than usual – great for drinking at your next barbecue. La Buena Vida’s elegant 1984 Port has won 22 awards – and it should at $250 a bottle.
Grapevine Main Street Days
$7 adults $5 children 6-12
Friday May 15; 10:00am – 11:30pm – free until 5p
Saturday May 16; 10:00am – 11:30pm
Sunday May 17; 11:00am – 6:00pm