On Way to the Port

Dear Reader,

Today I took a trip out to Stone House Vineyards and Winery to pick up some Scheming Beagle, my favorite Texas port-style wine.  Made from estate Norton grapes using the traditional solera method of blending, it is a serious competitor with other tawnies… from all over the world.  I mean, it’s phenomenal.  And for around $20 a bottle, it’s a helluva deal for the quality.

Being in the neighborhood, I headed over to a part-time residence of mine from last year’s research trips, Krause Springs.  They have an enchanting little butterfly garden, sonically decorated by huge wind chimes, dripping off of the trees.  And under one of these is stretched a rope hammock.  You can lay on it in the late afternoon and be bathed in gentle sun while six 7-foot chimes reverberated over your head like Tibetan bells.  Fountain water and birds from the nearby trees sing back up harmonies.  Say what you want about my hippy nature, but I swear there are few places more peaceful on this planet.

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On the way between these two stops, I passed 26612 Haynie Flat Road and spotted signs for fresh organic tomatoes, homemade salsa, bread and local jams, all just demanding a u-turn.

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Soon after I entered the gate, an SUV followed and Kathleen Henderson popped out, saying she had been delivering a pie.  Her farm stand was organized like a small outdoor grocery store with pastas, oils and vinegars from The Spicewood Food Company, little garden supplies and canned goods.  Kathleen was extremely welcoming, answering all my questions and explaining the origins of her products.  She was passionate about the heirloom tomatoes, passionate about the organic garden she was preparing, passionate about her pies.  I got swept up in her excitement and checked onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, salsa, and jam off of my grocery list while she bagged my purchases in little paper lunch sacks ($20 even).  We chatted a little longer about last weeks’ wind and I felt all my tight city-muscles relax, breathing that country air and enjoying a simple conversation.

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And I write you now from this hammock, encouraging you to head out on your own Texas wine country adventure, even if just for the afternoon.  There are unique opportunities all over the state.  In East Dallas?  Head over to Tara Winery in Athens.  If it’s a Wednesday or a Saturday, check out the Athens Farmers Market.  I hear it’s stellar.  In West Dallas, take a short trip out to Arché and Blue Ostrich Winery and catch a meal in the little down of St. Jo.  Or maybe take a whole week to learn how to make your own cowboy boots at Chappell Boot Shop in town.  Houston?  Head south to Haak Winery for Blanc du Bois Madeira made in the resident estufa, or to the coast to watch the sunset from Lavaca Bluffs Vineyard’s porch.  If you’re into incredible architecture or spiritual traditions, be sure to visit  the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Temple on the way down, an incredible structure made out of hand-whittled Italian marble and Turkish limestone.

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Wherever you’re coming from, find your own form of farm stand and discover your personal peaceful hammock.  Because, as today reminded me– yes,Texas wine is about what’s in the bottle, but it’s also about the journey and the roads in between.

Margaret Shugart

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