Friday, December 27, 2013

Fall Review

UPDATED: I left out two great stops in October -- Gruene Wine and Music Fest and Fawncrest Vineyards. They have been added.

Since September, I have not written much. My teaching jobs quickly took up all my time. At my full-time teaching position, I was working on two new pilots. I not only had to conduct the pilots, I was heavily involved in design and implementation. This left with my limited free time. That free time was spent visiting wineries, attending events, and drinking wine, which is all well and good except it didn't give me the time to write. So, this quick post will overview all the great times Sean and I had over the last few months. In the near future, I plan on providing some more thorough insight on some important points along our journey.

September 2013

Brut from Alexander Vineyards
  • LonestarCon (aka WorldCon -- the world Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention): This really wasn't a wine event, however, Sean and I couldn't resist the urge to share a little bit of Texas with some of the visitors. At the Kaffeeklatsch with author Mary Robinette Kowal, we shared some Lewis Wines. It was a huge hit, especially among Texans who were unfamiliar with the winery. The next day we presented Ms. Kowal with a bottle of Pedernales Cellars Reserve Viognier. We did this for two reasons, she has written a sci-fi short story that discusses the growing of Viognier; also, her husband is an assistant winemaker at City Winery in Chicago, IL.
  • Dripping with Taste: I officially covered this year's Dripping with Taste (Dripping Spring, TX) for Texas Wine and Trail. You can check out the article here.  
  • Alexander Vineyards: Though Sean and I visited previously with Jeff Cope, we decided to go back during the official opening weekend at the winery. There is more to come on this.


October 2013

This is a notoriously busy month for us. First, it is midterms, which means lots of grading and paperwork. In addition, it is also Sean's and my birthdays, which makes it even more hectic. We did choose to celebrate by devoting the month to Texas Wine (as it was Texas Wine Month).
Current Vintage of Bending Branch's Texas Tannat
  •  Texas Wine Month Trail (Texas Hill Country wineries): Sean and I did our best to make it to all the wineries -- we came up a bit short. We had a great time revisiting places we don't really visit, and we were reminded why certain wineries are just not for us. There will be more on this in the future -- maybe in time for Texas Wine Month 2014?
  • Gruene Wine and Music Fest: We spent a very hot and sunny October Saturday sipping on Texas wine in downtown Gruene. At the event we finally meet some people we had yet to meet in person, such as Todd Webster from Brennan Wines, and enjoyed wines from wineries we had yet to visit. It was a sweaty day, but the company and wine was worth it.I do have to admit  that the parking and shuttle system offered was great!
  • Fawncrest Vineyards: A year ago we got the chance to try their wines and sampled them again at the Gruene Festival. So we escaped the heat in Gruene and visited the little tasting room on Canyon Lake. Winemaker Patty McNeil took us through a tasting. Though the grapes aren't the Texas, the wine is imbued with the Texas spirit. I fell in love with their Cab Franc.
  • Viticulture Symposium at Bending Branch: The day after my birthday, Sean and I went to Bending Branch for an educational event for wine club members. It provided me a greater understanding of growing and making wine. From the vineyard to the barrels, we were treated to a lot of great info. This should aid my writing in the future. In addition, we got some secret knowledge. I hope to share it with you in a few years when Bending Branch brings their research to the public. 
  • Bending Branch's Branch on High Grand Opening: Though it wasn't Sean's and my first visit, we got to attend the official grand opening. I hope to write about this new location in the near future.
  • Northern Hill Country Trip: Sean and I spent the last weekend of October visiting the out of the way Hill Country wineries. As Sean has already wrote, we stayed with the very gracious and wonderful Mike and Lynn McHenry of Wedding Oak. We made our first visit to the winery, revisited some old favorites, and enjoyed San Saba. We had another great tasting with Jim Johnson of Alamosa, revisited Fiesta Winery's main location, stopped by Texas Legato and Pillar Bluff, and chatted with Laura Martin from Perissos. On Saturday night, we drove about an hour to Mason to join the Mason County wineries. All five area wineries -- Sandstone, Compass Rose, Fly Gap, Dotson-Cervantes, and Pontotoc, came out to provide tastings. Live music, entertainment, and great company were to be had on this wonderful evening.
Enjoying Mason County wine at Hallow Wine at Sandstone Cellars


 November 2013

This was a month of wine club events and casual visits, when we could manage them.With the holidays approaching and the end of the semester looming, it didn't provide a lot of time.
Sean (right) and I (left) with James Hong (center) at Wizard World Austin
  •  Wine, Women, and Shoes: Vinously Speaking volunteered their time and expertise at this event to raise money for the San Antonio Food Bank. Hosted by Tanji Patton, this event brought out those searching for a great pair of shoes and interested in good wine, and all for a good cause. Sean and I volunteered to pour wine; Sean poured for Fall Creek and I poured for Becker -- the two Texas wineries present.
  • Wizard World Austin: Yet again, not another wine event. However, we got to meet James Hong and we presented him with a bottle of Pedernales Cellars' 2010 Block One. He seemed to appreciate the gift.
  • Hawk's Shadow: Sean and I missed the special grand opening for Hawk's Shadow (I was sick). Instead, we visited during Thanksgiving weekend. The visit was tremendous. It is an upcoming post.


December 2013

FINALS! The first few weeks of December quickly were taken over by grading and dealing with fussy students (I finished the semester, officially on December 20. I found very little time for anything. What time we had ended up being for Christmas shopping, decorating, and seeing the second Hobbit film. During all that, we had a terrible run of luck; in one day, one car over-heated and was damaged and another got hit. It has been a pain dealing with limited transportation and repairs. We did find a little time to make a few visits.
Sean enjoying himself at Vinously Speaking's Canvas Pop-Up Wine Bar

  • Canvas Pop-Up: Local wine shop owners at Vinously Speaking joined up with the city of San Antonio and Fresh Urban Flowers to help revitalize the shops along Houston Street. Their location -- across from Luke -- provided great art, good music, great nibbles (from Luke) and some unique wines. They also generated a lot of publicity, which is something they deserve.
  • December 22: Sean and I went on a quick visit to a number of wineries. We exchanged freshly baked cookies for wine. Well, not really, but we did share the cookies.

So now that I have a few weeks to catch my breath, I hope to do some redesign on the blog and write some new posts. I also hope to provide more great stories for Texas Wine and Trail. Stay tuned!

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