Cowboys and Gauchos

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The Wine & Food Foundation of Texas is gearing up for their annual Cowboys and Gauchos event at the Salt Lick in Driftwood this Sunday, February 24th.  It’s bound to be a great party celebrating the overlap between South American and Texan food and wine.  Foundation board member Howard Kells was so inspired by Francis Mallmann’s book, The Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentinian Way, he started the event as a way to taste Texas and South American grilling styles and wines side by side, and celebrate their unique cultures.  It is the Foundation’s top event for supporting Texas wines.

Chefs from restaurants around the Austin area including Jack Allen’s Kitchen, Fore, Live Oak BarbecueEstancia Churrascaria, Sentelli’s Sweets, Cafe Josie, El Alma and El Chile, will be cooking local meat using a wide variety of barbeque techniques like iron rig, iron crosses and parrilla.  Since it’s difficult to marinate or brine large animals, the Foundation and chefs search for an beast that will bring flavor and sweetness to the table after being cooked on a live fire.  This year, under the guidance of Jack Gilmore from Jack Allen’s Kitchen, they chose a Nilgai Antelope from a Hill Country ranch and will be offering samples after its long roast.

Alongside this incredible smorgasbord will be wines from all over South America and Texas.  Distributors specializing in South American wines will pour samples from their wineries, and winemakers and representatives from Texas will be on site talking about their bottles.  Participating local wineries include Pedernales Cellars, Becker Vineyards, Fall Creek Vineyards, Flat Creek Estate, McPherson Cellars, Spicewood Vineyards, Duchman Family Winery, William Chris Vineyards, and Cap*Rock Winery.  It will be an incredible opportunity to compare varietals like Tannat (the national wine of Uruguay and my favorite red varietal in Texas), Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon from the different regions, paired with barbecued game meat and other culinary specialties like homemade chorizo, beef tongue, wild boar tacos and bison chile.

In addition to all this tasting goodness, there will be a dance floor and live band for some twirling, and a raffle with a grand prize tour of the Hill Country valued at $3000.

Tickets are on sale now through The Wine and Food Foundation of Texas site and entry gets you into the best party around this weekend.

We’ll see you there!

Margaret Shugart

Tasting at Salt Lick Cellars

The Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association is headed to the Salt Lick in Driftwood for a winery dinner tonight.  And what a perfect place to explore different personalities of wine in the bottle.

I like to think of Salt Lick Cellars as an art gallery of sorts.  Jay Knepp, the Salt Lick vineyard manager, grows near 40 acres of grapes on the property in Driftwood, then sends those grapes to different winemakers around the region to craft into wine.  So if you don’t have time travel around to several different wineries in a day, you can make one stop here and explore the styles of a variety of winemakers, all creating art from the same grapes.

At this moment, there are five different wines in this category produced by three different wine makers, all done with Salt Lick fruit:Image

1) Salt Lick Cellars Mourvèdre by Bill Blackman and Chris Brundrett of William Chris Vineyards and Winery.  It carries the signature flavors of William Chris’ coal toasted South Armenian Oak.  The wine is rich with prominent oak flavors of cooking spices and vanilla, the fruit rounded by its time in the barrels.

2) Salt Lick Cellars GSM by Dave Reilly at Duchman Family Winery.  A grenache, syrah, mourvèdre blend aged in neutral and French oak barrels.  True to Reilly’s style, the fruit expresses itself in bright flavors with a clean and lingering finish.

3) Hill Country Blend by Dave Reilly at Duchman Family Winery.  A blend of grapes from different vintages: sangiovese from 2010, syrah from 2009 and cabernet sauvignon from 2010.  All the fruit is from Salt Lick vineyards, except for the cabernet sauvignon from Limestone Terrace, Reilly’s first vineyard (now otherwise owned/managed) in Wimberley.  Aged in American and neutral oak, it has pleasant hints of vanilla.  The finish is tight with good acidity that is sure to cut through your BBQ lunch, er, dinner.

4) Salt Lick Sangiovese by Dave Reilly at Duchman Family Winery, the newest addition to the tasting room selection.  The fruit is from 7 year vines at Salt Lick and was picked in the middle of a 6 1/2 inch rainstorm, then aged in neutral French barrels.  The rain apparently didn’t affect the grapes and the wine is still all the things I love in a sangiovese: beautiful color, bright, red fruit, again, great acidity.

5) Fall Creek Tempranillo by Ed Auler at Fall Creek Vineyards.  100% Salt Lick fruit bottled under the Fall Creek label.  Aged in American, French and neutral French barrels, this wine is a full-bodied gem.  The fruit is prominent with creamy vanilla notes and the complex sweet/sour play that comes from good American oak.  The finish is long and lingering, even after a few sips of water.  Stellar meat pairing wine.

Tonight should offer an amazing experience to all TWGGA participants.

And all others over these next few months, as long as the wine lasts!  Cheers to the chance to witness so many artists in one place.  Image

TWGGA Conference 2013

The Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association meeting is coming up again next week, held in San Marcos at the Embassy Suites Conference Center and Spa.  From 8am February 14th until 11:30pm (although probably later…) on February 16th, wine makers, grape growers and interested parties are getting together to enjoy meals, discuss the industry and listen to panelists on marketing, legal issues, viticulture techniques and wine production.  It’s a meeting of the minds, but also a meeting of friends.

Last year I attended the Becker Vineyards wine dinner and was so inspired by the relationships between grape growers and wine makers.  A repost of the event and sentiment are below.

Tickets are still available.  Come join us as we enjoy what president Bobby Cox and all others involved have in store for the conference this year.

For more information, follow this link.

Annual Texas Wine and Grape Growers Associate Meeting 2013

Embassy Suites Conference Center and Spa, San Marcos

February 14-16th

Margaret Shugart

The Wine Roads of Texas

Yes, growing grapes is farming, and most people I have met farmed other crops before they took up a vineyard.  But there’s something very different about this sort of agriculture and its product, and certainly something special about it in Texas.  In one word: relationships.

I recently attended a grape growers meal held by Becker Vineyards.  They invited all the people who grow their grapes to dinner, then paired single vineyard wines with each course.  As the food came to the table, the grape growers from that specific vineyard were asked to stand and share something about that year’s harvest, or about that particular grape, or a story.  It was so intimate.

Touring the different vineyards in Lubbock, it began to dawn on me how different growing wine grapes is from growing, say, cucumbers, which many of the farmers in that region have done.  For one, as Jet Wilmeth of…

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