Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Where the Grapes Grow

When one is raised in California, there is only one "Wine Country" (the Napa Valley). California wine was always predominant on my family's dinner table. It's some of the best wine in the world, so who needs anything else?

When we moved out of the Bay Area and lived for a time in Sonora, California, my husband and I discovered the wineries around Murphys and Sonora, including Stevenot and Ironstone. So, in addition to the Cabernets and Chardonnays that come out of Napa, Zinfandels, Temperanillos and Ports found their way into our collection. In Oregon, we found Pinots and some interesting whites, Sokol-Blosser being our winery of choice there. (Tip: Sokol-Blosser wines are certified organic.) So you can say that everywhere we went, we managed to find another "Wine Country".

And then there is Texas.

When we learned there was a "Texas Wine Country", I think our first reaction was "yeah, right." How could good wine possibly come out of anywhere outside of the West Coast? And in this climate? Well, there are plenty of wineries popping up all over the Hill Country outside of Austin. While some got started by importing California grapes, once they figured out what grows well, many started planting their own vines and bottling their "domestic" grapes. And they are doing a darn good job of it, too.

Fredericksburg is the center of the Texas wine universe. My husband and I have been down to Fredericksburg on vacation twice now, and our second visit was largely devoted to visiting as many wineries as possible. If wine club membership is an indicator of "favorite wineries", then ours are Grape Creek and Pedernales.

Varietals from drier regions do well here, so you'll find some familiar names on the labels from Texas wineries. But if Texas has signature wines, then I would have to say they are the blends typically called "Sweet Red Wine" or "Texas Table Wine". These aren't nearly as sweet as dessert wines, but they are sweeter than you'll normally find in a red. They go really well with barbecue and the spicy foods that Texans love.

So if you are a California "wino" like me living in Texas and need to get your fix, drive down to Fredericksburg for a week. Or two. Setup a base camp in town, and then get on Highway 290 and work your way from winery-to-winery. There are lots of other things to do in Fredericksburg, but you can spend days just visiting the wineries. Just make sure you try the blends, because those are what you'll want to take home and serve with your steak.

Stay tuned for more tips on wines I enjoy, and suggested pairings. We're expecting our Spring wine club shipments soon, so there will be some drinkin' going on.

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