Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Oh October, You Get Me Everytime

October is the busiest month of the year, at least for me. The best part is my birthday, and Sean's of course. Of course, there is always Halloween. On top of that, it is Texas Wine Month. And even at work, October is midterms. I barely made it through this year, and celebrated my 40th as well. The highlight for the month was going to the Texas Renaissance Festival (which we returned to the Saturday after Thanksgiving as well).

We found our selves happily surprised by the amount of Texas wine (and other libations) available at the festival. Messina Hof is a sponsor, and they provide three wines special for the festival. They also have Enchanted Manor Meadery on-site, with their current portfolio available. There were plenty of Texas beers to choose from, as well as Austin East Ciders. We knew we would be in good shape.

The October visit centered around wine. We made reservations for the King's Wine Tasting.

The King’s Som-meller Alotta Burns leads her group of adventurous drinkers through eight wines. She guides experienced and not so experienced wine drinkers through the basics of wine. But the main goal of the tasting is fun. 

Along with Alotta, Haley Welshwine encourages inappropriate behavior. Her bawdy jokes and mischief add to Alotta’s more relaxed approach to enjoying wine, and even makes the 5 S’s (See, Swirl, Smell, Sip and Savor) more fun than it probably should be. Sprinkle in some rather embarrassing games, like a dance contest, and the laughter and joy never stops (yes, I made a fool of myself, and no, I am not providing those pictures). In fact, it can become difficult to get those gathered to leave.

We chose the 1pm tasting to make sure we had plenty of time for other diversions (there is a 3pm also). At the tasting there were no Texas wines; we instead drank frizaante, reisling, albarino, chardonnay, a surprising cab-shiraz blend, a surprising California red blend, and delightful Cotes de Rhone. But the ending ends with a bit of Texas: Enchanted Manor Mead. 

We returned to the scene of the crime for the 5pm mead tasting. Enchanted Manor was a highlight, but so was Griffin Meadery. To present a more balanced view,  a few other meaderies were included; the one from Colorado was my favorite.

The next time out, we stuck to just tasting as we went. We spent some time with the owner of Enchanted Manor Meadery. The wines are available at Specs and similar sites; however, there is no tasting room. Right now, money is an issue, so the only time there is a tasting room is during the festival. Guests can taste the mead, buy some mead, and see a show. 

I have to say, the drinking was fine at the Texas Renaissance Festival.


We braved some bad weather and cold. It was worth it. New fun and new wineries were on the list, so I could go back to work in January well "rested."

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

A Busy Fall: The Beginning

I found myself overwhelmed right after Labor Day. I had little time to attend to any writing. I stepped away from a project I am working on with my intrepid partner, Sean Bircher. And I provide only a small bit of content for my other writing gig, Texas Wine Lover. Mainly, I graded papers; I focused on providing detailed feedback to my many students, which left me with very little spare time.

In that spare time, we did squeeze in a bit of wine. We got away one day a week, and we wisely used that to try new wines and relax. We did take some notes here and there, as well as a whole lot of pictures. So during the next few weeks, I will post some of those pictures from Sean's and my adventures.

First up for our fall had both a beginning and an end.

The Beginning

One of my first fall assignments for Texas Wine Lover was to cover the grand opening of Torr Na Lochs in Burnet.

We arrived at a busy time, but toured about and learned a lot about this new gem. When we finished, we enjoyed a snack and some wine while appreciating the incredible view.

For more on this new winery, check out my post at Texas Wine Lover.

The End (and a new beginning)

Despite the joy of this new adventure, one of Sean's and my favorite wineries "rode off into the
sunset." On Labor Day, Alamosa Wine Cellars in Bend welcomed guests one last time.

The news may have seemed bad, but it was actually good news. Owners Jim and Karen Johnson retired. They celebrated for a few months leading up to the big day. Now they get to travel more and enjoy the days ahead.

And we found ourselves very lucky during our visit. Longtime Texas Wine Friends Jim and Julie Baker happened to swing by the same day. It lead to a great day remembering old times.

Though we will miss the bold wines of Alamosa Wine Cellars, we wish Jim and Karen the best of luck on their next adventure. To learn more, check out Jeremy Wilson's article on Texas Wine Lover.


October is always a whirlwind of a month: midterms, Halloween, etc. But this year, we celebrated my fortieth birthday. Check out how we celebrated our birthday!