Abilene’s first wine festival, West Texas Wine Festival, was held on October 21st as a means to raise funds for various projects at Frontier Texas. Frontier Texas is a non-profit museum dedicated to educating visitors about the history of the Texas frontier. The museum includes various exhibits depicting life in and the settlement of the frontier. It has exhibits with holographic storytellers, and an immersive video in the domed Frontier Experience Theatre where visitors encounter a stampede, a thunderstorm on the open plains, and a saloon shoot out. If you love to learn about Texas history and have never been to Frontier Texas it is definitely worth a visit.
This being the first wine festival in Abilene, not to mention it being held for a good cause, I immediately made plans to attend as there was no way I was going to miss it! There were a few ticket options for the festival:
- General Admission – Access to the festival and 10 1-oz pours.
- VIP – One-hour early access to the festival, all day access to a covered VIP area where lunch and snacks were provided by local brewery Grain Theory, and 10 1-oz pours.
- Wine Seminar – A special presentation from Brennan Vineyards discussing the wine production process and a wine tasting.
- Discounted combination tickets and additional tasting ticket wristbands were also available.
Not wanting to go it alone, I was joined by my dad, Richard Powell, and fellow Texas wine lovers Vicky Keller and Melynda Robinson Oliveras.
The festival was held at the Frontier Texas Outdoor Parade Grounds, which is also where the ever-popular Abilene Beer Summit is held. At the check-in station, we were given our tasting glasses, tasting ticket wristbands, and a map showing where each winery was set up. The Parade Grounds is an expansive area with a large L-shaped covered walkway flaking the Frontier Texas building, which is where the winery booths were set up. There was a large, covered tent in the center area with several picnic tables and seating along with a couple of watering stations. Scattered throughout the grounds were cracker stations for a quick palate cleanse between tastings. In the back area there were a couple of local food trucks and the covered VIP area. There was also live music throughout the five-hour event.
There were nine wineries and one meadery in attendance, along with Grain Theory brewery:
- Adelphos Cellars
- Amber Dragon Meadery
- Blue Duck Winery
- Brennan Vineyards
- Cockrell Vineyards
- Llano Estacado Winery
- Rusty Hook Winery
- Skies Over Texas
- Veesart Vineyards
- Yellow House Cellars
There was a nice variety of wines offered from meads, fruit wines, sweet wines, and dry wines not to mention a few beer options from Grain Theory. Definitely something for everyone and we ended up buying an extra tasting ticket wristband to ensure we got to try everything.
What I really liked about the wineries in attendance was that aside from two of them, they were fairly close to Abilene being within no more than about a 2 ½ hour drive. It gave attendees the opportunity to learn about wineries in the area that they might not have had prior knowledge of, which hopefully leads to people hitting the wine road to visit their tasting rooms for the first time. For me, Brennan Vineyards, Cockrell Vineyards, and Skies Over Texas are wineries I regularly visit, so I was excited to see people give them a try for the first time and learn about the wines they offer. On the flip side, I was excited to check out wineries that have been on my radar, but I have yet to visit, and I was not disappointed. I think between the four of us, we ended up leaving with 10 or 11 bottles, of which six were mine.
I was really impressed with the festival and understand plans are in the works for next year’s West Texas Wine Festival. I have already heard from a few of this year’s participants indicating they will be back and even heard from another winery about their plans to attend next year. I have hopes for the festival’s continued growth and success, and you can be guaranteed that as long as they have it, I will be there!