The distance from the Houston area to wineries in the Texas Hill Country makes tasting and visiting with winemakers costly and schedule challenging. But the Old Town Spring Tasting Room, 20 miles north of Houston, has a series of events that make it more convenient and less expensive for southeast Texans to enjoy Texas wines and visit with the winemakers.
Lost Draw Cellars, located in downtown Fredericksburg, was the most recent Texas Hill Country winery to take advantage of the “Wine & Dine” program conducted by “Wine Sisters” Jana Valentine and Karen Strole. As he has done several times recently at Houston-area venues, winemaker and co-owner Andrew Sides spoke about Lost Draw Cellars wines at a July 26 dinner that my wife Phyllis and I (Lost Draw Cellars wine club members) enjoyed along with more than 40 other Texas wine lovers.
“We want our wine club members and fans to know that we are willing to travel to see them and they do not have to always come to us to enjoy what we have to offer,” said Andrew, who is co-owner of Lost Draw Cellars with his uncle Andy Timmons and his father-in-law Troy Ottmers. “It gives our members something to do with us and introduces us to new people as well,”
Andrew noted that Lost Draw Cellars annually bottles 14-18 wines from the 31 grape varieties grown over three vineyards in the Texas High Plains. Selecting the wines to be served at the Old Town Spring event were Jana, Karen, and Gabrielle Katz of Hops & Vines Distributing which represents Lost Draw Cellars and other Texas wineries. Based on the five wines selected, Chef Clay Alling of The Provisioner’s Tale in Old Town Spring prepared and served a complementary five-course meal.
“Texas wines have improved so much that it is a pleasure for a chef to prepare the perfect dish to pair with the flavor profile of each chosen wine,” Chef Clay told the guests.
The wines served included the aromatic Arroyo Blanco blend of Trebbiano and Muscat grapes, and the orchard fruit-flavored 2016 Marsanne that both won medals at the Houston Rodeo Uncorked 2018 competition. Those stainless steel-aged white wines were, respectively, paired with spinach salad with bacon, heirloom tomatoes, spiced walnuts, and honeysuckle vinaigrette, and with stuffed shrimp with a garlic and herb dressing to provide at least three tasting elements for each wine.
Poured for the first time at a public event, the 2016 Tempranillo from the Timmons Family Estate was a complex and earthy pairing with Carne a la Parrilla and herb-roasted lamb with chorizo sausage, smoked jamón, and manchego grits.
Prior to that pairing, Lost Draw’s 2016 Arroyo Rojo blend of Mourvèdre, Carignan, and Syrah contrasted the lemony and briny bite of the Chicken Piccata with angel hair pasta course. The final pairing of the evening was the 2017 Texas High Plains Rosé, a blend of Cinsault and Grenache, with a chocolate-enhanced lavender goat cheese fruit Napoleon.
The Lost Draw Cellars “Wine & Dine” was the most recent event that Jana and Karen have hosted at the Old Town Spring Tasting Room to highlight the improving quality of Texas wines. Other Texas wineries spotlighted at 2018 events include Fly Gap Winery, Texas Hills Vineyard, and Spicewood Vineyards. The sisters, who were formerly associated with Wimberley Valley Wines, also hosted a “Go Texan Day” wine tasting earlier this year.
“The difference in Texas wines is night and day compared to when I first started tasting Texas wines,” said Karen. “Texas wines have taken off in quality, and that is nothing but good for the Texas economy!”
So, if a trip to the Texas Hill Country to taste and visit with winemakers will not fit your schedule or pocketbook, check the websites of the numerous wine-focused stores in your area to learn when those wineries and winemakers may be coming to a location near you.