I look forward to the Rootstock Wine Festival every year for several reasons, not the least of which is that it’s held in Waco, one of my favorite central Texas cities. My wife and I have been known to make the 1.5-hour trek from DFW just to shop at the downtown Waco Farmer’s Market or eat at a favorite restaurant. Rootstock is also held at a beautiful time of the year, with mild temperatures (at least for Texas) and wildflowers adorning the roadsides and fields making the drive that much more pleasant.
The Rootstock Wine Festival is held at Indian Spring Park along the Brazos River with its beautiful parks and greenway. Guests at this year’s festival enjoyed near-perfect weather and were treated to a special surprise – booths for the participating wineries were set up along the Washington Avenue Bridge providing picturesque views of the river and downtown Waco. It really was a beautiful setting to enjoy great Texas wines.
Rootstock 2023 was sponsored by the Texas Wine Club and This is Texas Wine, each of whom had a booth set up to greet guests as they entered the bridge. Texas Wine Club offers a great way for its club members to discover Texas wines through a monthly or quarterly selection of curated wines from some of Texas’ best winemakers. This is Texas Wine is an award-winning podcast by Shelly Wilfong featuring Texas wine industry news, events, and in-depth interviews. You don’t want to miss a single episode!
This year’s Rootstock Wine Festival featured an all-star cast of fifteen Texas wineries from across the Lone Star State:
- 3 Texans Winery
- Blue Ostrich Winery
- Brennan Vineyards
- Château Wright
- Farmhouse Vineyards
- Kalasi Cellars
- Kuhlman Cellars
- Lost Draw Cellars
- Pedernales Cellars
- Red Caboose Winery
- Rustic Spur vineyards
- Solaro Estate Winery
- Valley Mills Vineyards
- Westcave Cellars
- William Chris Vineyards
At the far end of the bridge a “bubbles tent” was set up serving guests with Pét-Nat and sparkling wines while a bubble machine provided endless entertainment for the kiddos.
Guests were also treated to a diverse selection of cuisines. Each Rootstock ticket included a choice of four small bites, or one could choose from a wide variety of menu options from the following food vendors:
- Bahler Street Pizza
- Le’s Kitchen
- Nico’s Cheesecake
- Tru Jamaica
And what’s a festival without great music? One of my favorite parts of the day was kicking back under the shade of the trees while enjoying tunes from the Lindsley Brothers who opened the festival with a variety of covers, including requests from the audience which they handled with aplomb. Next up was the Matt Cline Band whose “jam band” style kept the place rocking straight through to the evening.
Texas Wine Lover (TWL) fans who attended the festival received an added bonus – a prearranged group meet-up including our very own Texas Wine Lover founder and co-owner Jeff Cope. Over a dozen TWL fans took advantage of the opportunity to meet and get to know one another. It was great to put a face to the names we often associate with through social media and correspondence.
And finally, to end the day on a perfect note, a sold-out group of more than seventy VIP ticket holders were treated to a very special close to the day’s festivities: a five-course dinner served on the bridge and under the stars, catered by chef Henry from Pignetti’s Italian Cuisine of Temple, Texas. Each course was accompanied by a perfectly paired Texas wine from select Texas wineries. It was a magical ending to the day. The following courses were enjoyed by all:
- Smoked salmon rillette with a boursin and apple whip. Paired with Pedernales Cellars Trebbiano.
- Golden beet, orange, and arugula salad with apricot vinaigrette, pistachios, and goat cheese. Paired with Kuhlman Cellars Roussanne.
- Italian sausage ragu with parmesan polenta and agrodolce caponata. Paired with Valley Mills Vineyards Garnacha.
- Chianti braised beef with farro and celery leaf risotto. Paired with Lost Draw Cellars Tempranillo.
- Chocolate tart + blackberry compote. Paired with Valley Mills Vineyards Ruby Port.
If you missed this year’s Rootstock there’s always 2024. Be sure to sign up for their mailing list or follow them on social media for news and updates. And special kudos to the festival volunteers, the Valley Mills Vineyards team, and festival coordinator Sara Holder for their outstanding work in making this year’s Rootstock a smashing success. I’m already looking forward to next year.