This Memorial Day weekend we had a Texas Wine Lover (TWL) dinner Saturday evening in Johnson City. When we found out about the dinner, we knew it would be a weekend road trip for sure. After watching the weather Friday evening and checking for road closures, my wife Carole and I left Houston bright and early Saturday morning. We were a little worried that US 290 would be closed at the Brazos River as it was closed the night before so that some cattle could be rescued from the flooding water. However, as we got to the area it was open, but the river was well out of it’s banks and flooded all the low lands on both sides of 290 for a couple miles.
Our first stop was Perissos Vineyard and Winery to pick up our wine club shipment for May and do a little tasting. When we walked into the tasting room and prepared to sit for a tasting, I mentioned to the server that we were heading to Johnson City later for a TWL dinner. A gentleman that looked familiar said, “Tell Jeff Cope I said hello.” I looked closer and though I’ve not met him face to face, I recognized Dave Potter and his wife Kelli. Dave is active in the Texas wine industry and Assistant winemaker at Eden Hill Vineyard in Celina, Texas. We joined them at their table and fell into easy conversation. It was great to finally meet them.
After a few tastes, Seth Martin, owner and winemaker at Perissos saw us and came over to say hello, and introduced himself to Kelli and Dave. He invited the four of us for a walk through the vineyard where he explained some of his vineyard management techniques and what was currently happening in the vineyard. After taking a quick tour of the new production/storage building we ended up in the current tank room for a taste of a special Roussanne he’s working on. We’re looking forward to that release. Dave and Kelli had some appointments and we had an appointment at 4.0 Cellars to get to, so we each went on our separate ways.
Laurie Ware, a contributing writer with TWL, had made an appointment at 4.0 Cellars for a wine and cheese tasting and invited us to join them. Carl Hudson, also a contributing writer, was to be our tasting leader and we were looking forward to the experience. When we arrived, we were so glad we had an appointment. 4.0 is obviously popular and it was evident when we saw all the folks visiting when we arrived. It’s ALWAYS good to get an appointment at the popular tasting rooms along 290. Fortunately, we were ushered to the board room for our private tasting.
Carl joined us there and within a few minutes, Laurie and her husband Shelly arrived. The wines that were paired with cheeses were from Brennan Vineyards (Reserve Viognier, Buffalo Roam, and Portejas), McPherson Cellars (Vermentino), and Lost Oak Winery (Dawson Red). The cheeses were all provided by Veldhuizen Cheese. The cheeses paired were Gouda, Dublin Karst, Caraway Cheddar, Cabeli, and Bosque Blue. I am NOT a cheese eater and wasn’t even sure I would taste any of them, but something about wine and pairing food helps me get out of my comfort zone and I tried all but the Bosque Blue. I just couldn’t get past the smell. However, I did enjoy a couple of the cheeses and my favorite was a toss up between the Caraway Cheddar and the Cabeli.
We went from there to check into our hotel and grab a quick rest before the Texas Wine Lover dinner at Bryan’s on 290. I am sure there will be a post about that soon.
Sunday we didn’t have any reservations and knew it would be “walk in” day for us and tasting room visits. After a continental breakfast at the hotel we headed to Compass Rose Cellars for a tasting. Due to a website misprint, we showed up a whole hour before they opened and after a call to Mark Watson confirmed they didn’t open until 11 a.m., he let us in and we sat and enjoyed the spectacular view while waiting for him to get there. The folks already there took care of us and Charles Green even let me have a cup of coffee while waiting.
Mark showed up and invited us for a tasting and got us set up at the standup bar with a beautiful view of the valley below. He took us through a spectacular Chenin Blanc, three wonderful reds, and a great Jaquez (port style). During this time, we had a great conversation about winemakers, wine philosophy, and why even though I followed the winery on Facebook, I didn’t know anything going on with them. Just so everyone knows, they have a great chef, great food, a brunch, music, and many other things happening. If you’re interested, follow them and pay better attention than I did. Since it was close to lunch, we chose to stay there and enjoy the brunch they have on weekends—on par with many of the top end brunches we’ve had.
After we finished brunch, we headed out towards Fredericksburg. We weren’t really sure where we’d stop, but about that time we received a text message from Laurie Ware telling us they were at the Pontotoc Vineyard Weingarten in downtown Fredericksburg. We arrived there just in time to join them tasting through some of Pontotoc’s wines. I didn’t take good notes, but we tasted through three reds and a red sangria. All worth the stop.
Since we wanted to visit some of the same places, the Wares invited us to hop in their vehicle for a couple stops. The first stop was Narrow Path Winery’s tasting room in Fredericksburg. It’s right on 290 near Adams Street. It’s a small tasting room, but we were able to sit and taste some wine. The Rosé was recommended and the recommendation was warranted. The reds we tasted there were fantastic and we left with a bottle of Texas Select Red.
From Narrow Path, we went to Lost Draw Cellars also near downtown Fredericksburg. We went with the idea to visit with CJ, but she was busy when we got there. However, Chris invited us up for a taste and took great care of us. We were treated to an often unheard of Picpoul Blanc that was a nice white, a Viognier, a Rosé, and a couple great reds.
We finished up at Lost Draw and the Wares took us back to our car. We were going to meet up again at Wildseed Farms to taste some wine from Wedding Oak, but I remembered I wanted to stop in at Kuhlman Cellars to pick up a bottle of a limited release 2012 Merlot. Since they were closing at 5 p.m. we just headed there. While we were there, we sat on their relatively new upper patio and enjoyed a couple glasses of wine. I enjoyed a glass of newly released Roussanne and Carole had a glass of Aluve (red).
That finished up our wine tasting room visits for the day, however we decided to have dinner at Pecan Street Brewery in Johnson City for dinner. Pecan Street Brewery is located right across the street on the square of the Blanco County Courthouse. They are a brewpub with several of their own brews on tap. I wanted a red ale but they were out. The bartender fixed me up though by blending their Balderdash Brown Ale and County Jail Pale Ale that he said would have a profile close to the red ale. It was about a 45 minute wait for us on the Sunday evening, but the beer made the wait bearable, and when we were seated we enjoyed a nice meal of delicious “brewpub food.”
It was a fun Memorial Day weekend with more visits than we thought we could fit in. By Monday morning, we were pretty wiped out and because it looked like the weather could be nasty, we headed back to Houston pretty early. It goes to show you that if you pace yourself (Carole and I shared several of the tastings), you can get in a lot of tasting room visits. Just make sure you have someone committed to driving sober. Texas Wine Lover has posts on all of the wineries mentioned in this post. Be sure to search for them on the blog if you want more information. All in all, it was a great Memorial Day weekend road trip to the Hill Country.