Steps away from Big Tex and the bustling State Fair of Texas midway awaits the relaxing oasis of the Texas Wine Garden. The Texas Department of Agriculture-sponsored Wine Garden showcases three Texas wineries daily. Over the course of the Fair, over 40 Texas wineries will be on hand to pour three or four wines each for a span of a few days. On weekends, musicians play on a small stage under sparkling twinkle lights. It’s a lovely place to sip Texas-crafted wine.
The Wine Garden features a large seating area and a row of spacious tasting booths. In addition to the individual wineries that are featured daily, another booth offers Gold Medal-winning Texas wines from the San Francisco International Wine Competition. I counted 21 additional wines to taste! The adjacent Wine Country Bistro has fruit, cheese, and cracker trays, and other snack foods and sweets suitable for sharing. Beer is available as well.
At the winery booths, you may select a sample pour, a glass of wine, or even a bottle (availability varies by winery). The tasting pours are served in tiny plastic cups that look like shot glasses and hold an estimated 2 ounces. The by-the-glass wines are served in larger plastic cups. Sorry, no glassware at the State Fair.
During my visit on a Friday morning, I was able to taste wine and meet with winery representatives from all three wineries present: Los Pinos Ranch Vineyards, Red Road Vineyard & Winery, and Seifert Cellars. State Fair concessions staff members were also on hand to assist with pouring and more. The winery representatives were asked to keep the booth staffed all day long from 10 a.m. until closing.
Los Pinos Ranch Vineyards – Pittsburg
Debbie was pouring two sweet wines and two dry wines. Since I had tasted one of the sweet wines at GrapeFest just last month, I decided to try the dry wines: “Blanco Grande,” an estate grown Blanc du Bois, and the 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon. These were my favorite wines of the day. Los Pinos Ranch Vineyards uses 100% Texas grapes from an estate vineyard in Pittsburg and also from vineyards in the Texas High Plains. I’d like to follow Debbie’s recommendation to go visit Los Pinos for a full wine tasting, live jazz, and a full restaurant.
Red Road Vineyard & Winery – Naples
Luna Grove, daughter of winery owner Merrill Grove, talked with me about Red Road and her own plans to start a Texas hard cider brand. Luna was pouring two dry reds, SigRed and Dearg and two white whites, Sedoga and Araceli. SigRed is a blend of Merlot and Cynthiana, a native North American grape that is almost identical to the Norton grape. Cynthiana is sometimes called “the Cabernet of the Ozarks” and is the state grape of Arkansas. Most Red Road wines have Gaelic names that honor the owner’s Scottish heritage. Red Road has limited winery hours on Saturday afternoons.
Seifert Cellars – Millersview
Brenda Kowen, a Plano resident, bought Seifert Cellars in January and has big plans for its future. Located about an hour east of San Angelo, Seifert Cellars’ vineyard land is on a protected peninsula on the O.H. Ivie Reservoir. Brenda was pouring her bestselling sweet blush wine, a sweet white wine, and a Cabernet Sauvignon. Bottles on display at the booth proudly showcased medals from 2010 and 2011 Texas wine competitions. I tasted through Brenda’s lineup, but didn’t finish my generous tasting pours. I was surprised when the concessions helper finished them for me. I think Brenda was too! We both preferred Rain, the sweet white.
Don’t forget to stroll through the Go Texan Pavilion, located just next to the Wine Garden. Although you can’t buy wine in the large General Store inside, I found some cute Texas wine magnets and coasters from Lubbock-based Paddle Tramps. The store also carries a poster-size Texas Hill Country winery map.
The Wine Garden gives us one more reason to love the State Fair. It’s a tranquil space to sample some great Texas wines. Check it out soon; the Fair closes on October 22. Go Texan!
- Take identification. My driver’s license was scanned at each wine tasting booth.
- Check the State Fair of Texas schedule to see which wineries are scheduled on the day you visit the fair
- All food and beverage vendors take coupons, not cash. There are a number of coupon booths spread throughout the Fairgrounds. Sample tastings are generally 3 coupons and glasses of wine are 20 coupons. This translates to $1.50 for a tasting pour and $10 for a glass of wine. The Gold medal winning wines range from 2 to 5 coupons for a sample pour.
- A new State Fair concept this year is Trio on the Green. This spot outside the Coliseum features food and beverages in flights of three. Think wine, beer, snacks, and treats. Also look for one of the Big Tex Choice Awards this year, Pinot Noir Popcorn. Sounds tasty!