Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Grape Stomp Day Two: Chisholm Trail and Becker

Sean and I ventured out on the first of September to hunt down the last remaining grape stomps in the area. The road was clear: trekking out to Chisholm Trail and back to where everything started for us, Becker.

Chisholm Trail Winery

We started at Chisholm Trail, west of Fredericksburg. To be fair, we haven't been there in ages. On top of that, it usually hasn't been busy, or even sunny for that matter. Today was a change, as the sun was brilliant and the tasting room was hopping. And the sunshine followed us in; our greeting was friendly and welcoming. We quickly got an idea of how things were working -- $5 for a bandana to stomp and $7 to $9 for a tasting (9 is with logo glass). We got one bandana and proceeded out to the stomp.

When we found our way to the stomping, a few others were already ankle deep. We drew in to get a look at the set-up. As we did, we were rudely whistled at to alert us to what was obvious -- someone was already stomping. I am not sure who whistled, the younger man that works for Chisholm or the guest he was lounging with, but I was rather disappointed by the lack of help. For the time, we blew it off and waited. Once the pair stomping were done, we expected a bit of guidance or help. There was nothing. We were left to navigate it ourselves. This was awkward and uncomfortable, so we quickly finished and went back inside. We altered the folks inside to the dilemma -- we actually thought that no one outside worked for the winery as we were generally ignored. We were informed that one of the people did, and I made it cleared that we were never greeted or helped. Unfortunately, there was no follow-up. I can say, though, that it was better for other. When we left, we walked by the stomp, and things were more active. I also didn't see the guy from earlier, but it did seem like the group of stompers was getting help.

Stomping mainly store bought grapes @ Chisholm Trail

Inside, our friendly stewardess guided us through our tasting. She told us what she liked and her thoughts of the wine, and she engaged us, asking for ours. The tasting setting at the bar was pleasant enough, but I did remember why I don't come often. I'm a dry wine drinker, and the dry wines at Chisholm accentuate flavors and sensations I am nor particularly fond off -- there were tangy and tart or overly herbaceous. The better flavors appeared in the more Texas driven wines (some of the grapes were not Texas grown, but I couldn't find out which). The Lone Wolf -- a Black Spanish based wine -- and the Belle Star -- made from Blanc du Bois -- are both solid, clean wines. These were my favorites. I'll admit, I avoided the sweets, but they may be worth a second look. Sean had the port, which was a nicely balanced sweetness and depth. This may be a sign that the sweet wines, which are not my favorite -- may be a strength here. To each his own.

Becker  Vineyards

After our less than great experience, we headed off to Becker. The stomp was buzzing, and they just couldn't keep enough people around to deal with the crowd. We did get some direction, but were left to much of it on our own; I guess we seemed experienced (and we are as this was our third Becker stomp). We got help getting our shirt up to dry, which was very helpful with all the shirts blowing in the wind. Sean did have a bad experience after (it ended up an unusually troubled day). As we tried to clean up, people kept dashing in and stealing the hose before we could get a chance. This happened twice. Once we spoke up though, those that did it apologized and were kind enough to let us our turn.

Stomping in a half barrel at Becker Vineyards

Inside, we decide to do yet another Becker tasting. Due to the state of things -- it was really busy -- they had set-up two additional bars in the tank room. We found a friendly and familiar face in Chris who tends to do our tastings at wine club events. We caught up with her and shared some great stories -- she missed out on the roses at Rambling Rose, so we filled her in. I also got to meet Katie Jane. She oversees much of the social media and similar media and promotion. It was nice to finally meet her, but it was also gratifying when she asked me if I was the same person that did the write-ups on Bending Branch (I couldn't help but  beam when she asked). The tasting was leisurely and comfortable, just what we wanted. After a rough start, our end was just what we were hoping for.

The end result at Becker: Sean's (foot & sandal pictured) and my feet

We would have delayed and visited more, but we had plans. Vinously Speaking was doing a wonderful cheese and wine pairing tasting, and we just had to go. So, after our short visit, we rushed backed to San Antonio for a bite to eat and more wine with new and old friends. We enjoyed some great cheeses from Costco and some great wine from all over the world. It capped our day. Now, we'll just wait till next year, when I hope to see some familiar faces joining us in the cool gunk.

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