Imagine finding a little respite right off the highway that offers some world class chocolates and candies, chips from one of Oprah’s favorite companies, and wine from some of Texas’ leading winemakers, along with specialty olive oils and balsamic vinegars. Well, these are just a few of the numerous specialty food items you will find in this little gem in Blanco. Don’t let the exterior fool you, this little shop just off the highway heading south out of town is well worth the stop.
You can find a carefully cultivated collection of specialty food items at Gillen’s Candies and Wine in Blanco, which is so much more than just candy and wine. However, let’s start with the wine. There is a selection of wines from Texas, in addition to other states and some international options. The focus is on great wines that you can enjoy on their own, but also use to pair with their assortment of food items. When you stop by, you can enjoy a tasting at the bar, or get a glass to sit and relax at one of the lovely café style tables inside. In addition to wine, beer is also available. You can purchase something to wet your whistle or purchase from a variety of special beers to take home. While you enjoy a few sips, take time to browse the establishment and check out the wide assortment of other items.
You will find Torre’s Spanish chips from Oprah’s 2015 list of favorite things as well as a variety of Jerky treats. If you are into cooking, you may enjoy the assortment of peppers and salts, and a special tasting corner for flavored olive oils and balsamic vinegars. There are spice mixes available that can be paired with the oils or used on their own as seasonings for other dishes. The oils can be sampled in the shop, so you can find just the right one to suit your needs. There’s a delightful collection of jams from Confituras, and other hot sauces and condiments. You can even find pickled okra and specialty popcorn. If you need a little something for your pup, they have those specialty treats too.
Chocolate is something owner Steve Gillen has in his DNA, and he has curated a special selection of some of the world’s top chocolates. There are specialty bars, bags of chocolate covered nuts, and gift boxes of hand-crafted chocolate collections. There are assorted caramels, hand crafted caramel turtle candies, and a collection of Lakrids specialty licorice from Denmark. Even If you don’t think you like licorice, give them a try, you may be pleasantly surprised.
Steve Gillen will be happy to show you around and answer any questions about the products that he has personally handpicked. He can share some of the special history of Gillen’s candies and his family’s ties to Russell Stover. I will not spoil the story for you—you can read a little of his family’s candy making history online—but I strongly suggest you stop in and hear the story first hand. He’s a great host and is very knowledgeable about all the products. You will find some Russell Stover candies and chocolate there. He admits it’s the only mainstream candy company you will find in his shop as it’s his nod to the family’s history.
If you’re a foodie and a wine lover who enjoys finding interesting and unique items for yourself and others, this is a great stop. You can readily find items for stocking stuffers and easily pull together a nice assortment of items for gift baskets. Samples are available for some items allowing you to do a little taste testing ahead of time to find just the perfect items. Stop in and grab a sip of something and do a little holiday shopping while you are there. Prepare to be amazed and delighted at Gillen’s Candies and Wine.