We love wine festivals. It’s like taking a wonderful cruise to wineries all located in one place. For a fee you receive a festival logoed glass, tasting tickets, and in the case of the Rootstock Wine Festival held recently in Waco, we also received a t-shirt! This was the first year for the Rootstock Wine Festival located in the gorgeous park along the banks of the Brazos River and the base of the footbridge in Indian Spring Park. There were a lot of shade trees, lush green grass, and cool spring breezes. After a week of typical spring torrential rains in north and central Texas, I’m sure there were some very worried festival planners and quite probably some fervent prayers being said! Justified, to be sure, but not to fear. Saturday dawned clear with warm temperatures promised.
We arrived a little early and saw the wineries had set up their awnings on either side of a large open sided tent. We picked up our glasses and t-shirts and stepped inside the festival to say our hellos to our winery friends. While we were seeing where everyone was situated, I was approached by a beautiful woman and her handsome husband, and I immediately recognized our friends from east Texas, Roger and Darlene Bruckbauer. What a pleasantly wonderful surprise! We spent a few moments catching up, but didn’t need to do much thanks to Facebook. It was going to be so much fun visiting the winery’s tables with fellow wine friends.
While we waited for the magic start time of noon, I decided to start taking photos before it got crowded. The first table was Kissing Tree Vineyards from Eddy led by Chris and Crystal Grider, along with Crystal’s mother Dorothy Johnson. We met and tasted their wines at the Salado Wine Fest at the beginning of April. We have begun many of our relationships with wineries over the years by going to festivals and keep running into the same people over and over. I look forward to visiting more and more with this lovely couple. Kissing Tree brought their Merlot, White Merlot, and Muscat Canelli.
Beside Kissing Tree was Salado Wine Seller. I’ll bet they were more relieved to be pouring wine at this festival rather than working at theirs a few weekends ago. Salado Winery is located in the adorable, picturesque town of Salado located off Interstate 35 just north of Austin. They brought their Night Flight, Rootin’ Tootin’, and Big Bully. Blue Ostrich Winery from Saint Jo is located up along the Red River Valley between Gainesville and Wichita Falls. It is definitely worth the trip from anywhere, if not for the views alone, but the wines make the trip. They brought Rosato Moscate, Blanc du Bois, and Table One.
Marker Cellars from Alvord, was also there who is also located north toward the Red River, but more in the grasslands south of the hills and valleys. Mark Rodgers and his son Travis were pouring Viognier, Marker Mustcanelli, and Texas Blend.
Hye Meadow Winery made the trip with owners/winemaker Mike and Denise Batek bringing their Trebbiano, Sundown, and Tempranillo. Hye Meadow Winery is located on Hwy 290 between the cities of Johnson City and Stonewall next door to the historic Hye Market.
Eden Hill Vineyard is located in the lush green gently rolling hills north of Celina, again up towards the Red River. They brought their Roussanne, Aglianico, and Garden Red. Waco Winery, located on Hwy 6 east of Waco, was at a disadvantage since they did not receive their festival permit from the TABC in time to be able to pour wine at the festival. But that did not stop them from showing up and telling people about their winery and inviting everyone to come and check them out and enjoy a tasting and entertainment.
On the other side of the tent were the other half of the wineries. Red Wing Dove is located just outside of Hamilton in central Texas. Most of the surrounding area is flat ranch land that is very good for grazing cattle, however, Red Wing Dove is located along a gentle slope. The owner and winemaker, Susan Vandiver brought White Dove, Shiraz, and Sweet Shiraz.
Bending Branch Winery is located south of Fredericksburg near the small town of Comfort. They are making a name for themselves as being sustainable with organic practices, as well as making stellar wines. Bending Branch brought Roussanne, High Plains Rosé, and Tannat. Probably one of the newest kids on the block attending the festival was Big Rock Winery from the small town of Morgan near Lake Whitney. The owners/winemakers are Rick and Gail Wilkins and they brought Viognier, Chardonnay, and Ruby Franc.
Valley Mills Vineyards is located on the other side of Interstate 35 on Hwy 6 on the west side of Waco near Valley Mills. This first annual wine festival was the Bagnasco family dream. Valley Mills brought Viognier, Red Velvet, and GSL. The Vineyard at Florence is located between Florence and Jarrell in south central Texas. This Tuscan inspired winery is a gorgeous destination, without a doubt. The Vineyard at Florence brought Dolce, Aurelia, and Galileo.
Pedernales Cellars is located on the south side of Hwy 290 just east of Fredericksburg in Stonewall. Their large tree shaded deck and sprawling lawns makes them a perfect location to sit back and enjoy a picnic and a glass or two of wine. Pedernales Cellars brought Albarino, Viognier, Tempranillo, and GSM. Red Caboose Winery, located northeast of the small central Texas town of Meridian, is credited with being energy efficient and sustainable. Their large patio invites you to stay and relax while you enjoy a picnic and enjoy your wine. Red Caboose brought Quickdraw Syrah, Touriga Nacional, and Lenoir.
Westcave Cellars is located about 30 minutes west of Austin and very near the picturesque parks of Hamilton Pool Preserve and Westcave Preserve. Their expansive tree shaded grounds are perfect for picnics, cheese trays, or just kicking back and relaxing with a glass of wine. Westcave Cellars brought their Estate Sweet White, Estate Vermentino, and Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. Allan and Margaret Fetty were there pouring the Westcave Cellars wines.
There was a wonderful bread and cheese booth operated by The Texas Cheese House in Lorena. He was offering white and basil bagettes and an assortment of cheeses. The music stage at the end of the area was perfect! The two gentlemen played light jazz pieces that were easy to listen to and not too loud to talk around. I could have sat and listened to them all afternoon.
All in all, I think this first festival was a success. Joey Bagnasco and I were going to find a few minutes to talk, but every time I saw him he was in full speed mode taking care of this and that, usually delivering bags of ice. The goal of the festival was to bring high quality wines to the people and showcase them in a relaxed setting. I think they surpassed this goal! This was a perfect opportunity to experience 45 different wines from 15 different wineries from very different locations in the state. I eavesdropped on conversations while standing in line and sitting in the shade enjoying our bread and cheese, and the comments from the people were generally very positive and praising of the event.
I look forward to attending next year and will save the date on my calendar as soon as I see it has been set!
Note: There were many more photos during the festival and they can be viewed in an album on the Texas Wine Lover Facebook page.