Friday, December 27, 2013

Fall Review

UPDATED: I left out two great stops in October -- Gruene Wine and Music Fest and Fawncrest Vineyards. They have been added.

Since September, I have not written much. My teaching jobs quickly took up all my time. At my full-time teaching position, I was working on two new pilots. I not only had to conduct the pilots, I was heavily involved in design and implementation. This left with my limited free time. That free time was spent visiting wineries, attending events, and drinking wine, which is all well and good except it didn't give me the time to write. So, this quick post will overview all the great times Sean and I had over the last few months. In the near future, I plan on providing some more thorough insight on some important points along our journey.

September 2013

Brut from Alexander Vineyards
  • LonestarCon (aka WorldCon -- the world Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention): This really wasn't a wine event, however, Sean and I couldn't resist the urge to share a little bit of Texas with some of the visitors. At the Kaffeeklatsch with author Mary Robinette Kowal, we shared some Lewis Wines. It was a huge hit, especially among Texans who were unfamiliar with the winery. The next day we presented Ms. Kowal with a bottle of Pedernales Cellars Reserve Viognier. We did this for two reasons, she has written a sci-fi short story that discusses the growing of Viognier; also, her husband is an assistant winemaker at City Winery in Chicago, IL.
  • Dripping with Taste: I officially covered this year's Dripping with Taste (Dripping Spring, TX) for Texas Wine and Trail. You can check out the article here.  
  • Alexander Vineyards: Though Sean and I visited previously with Jeff Cope, we decided to go back during the official opening weekend at the winery. There is more to come on this.


October 2013

This is a notoriously busy month for us. First, it is midterms, which means lots of grading and paperwork. In addition, it is also Sean's and my birthdays, which makes it even more hectic. We did choose to celebrate by devoting the month to Texas Wine (as it was Texas Wine Month).
Current Vintage of Bending Branch's Texas Tannat
  •  Texas Wine Month Trail (Texas Hill Country wineries): Sean and I did our best to make it to all the wineries -- we came up a bit short. We had a great time revisiting places we don't really visit, and we were reminded why certain wineries are just not for us. There will be more on this in the future -- maybe in time for Texas Wine Month 2014?
  • Gruene Wine and Music Fest: We spent a very hot and sunny October Saturday sipping on Texas wine in downtown Gruene. At the event we finally meet some people we had yet to meet in person, such as Todd Webster from Brennan Wines, and enjoyed wines from wineries we had yet to visit. It was a sweaty day, but the company and wine was worth it.I do have to admit  that the parking and shuttle system offered was great!
  • Fawncrest Vineyards: A year ago we got the chance to try their wines and sampled them again at the Gruene Festival. So we escaped the heat in Gruene and visited the little tasting room on Canyon Lake. Winemaker Patty McNeil took us through a tasting. Though the grapes aren't the Texas, the wine is imbued with the Texas spirit. I fell in love with their Cab Franc.
  • Viticulture Symposium at Bending Branch: The day after my birthday, Sean and I went to Bending Branch for an educational event for wine club members. It provided me a greater understanding of growing and making wine. From the vineyard to the barrels, we were treated to a lot of great info. This should aid my writing in the future. In addition, we got some secret knowledge. I hope to share it with you in a few years when Bending Branch brings their research to the public. 
  • Bending Branch's Branch on High Grand Opening: Though it wasn't Sean's and my first visit, we got to attend the official grand opening. I hope to write about this new location in the near future.
  • Northern Hill Country Trip: Sean and I spent the last weekend of October visiting the out of the way Hill Country wineries. As Sean has already wrote, we stayed with the very gracious and wonderful Mike and Lynn McHenry of Wedding Oak. We made our first visit to the winery, revisited some old favorites, and enjoyed San Saba. We had another great tasting with Jim Johnson of Alamosa, revisited Fiesta Winery's main location, stopped by Texas Legato and Pillar Bluff, and chatted with Laura Martin from Perissos. On Saturday night, we drove about an hour to Mason to join the Mason County wineries. All five area wineries -- Sandstone, Compass Rose, Fly Gap, Dotson-Cervantes, and Pontotoc, came out to provide tastings. Live music, entertainment, and great company were to be had on this wonderful evening.
Enjoying Mason County wine at Hallow Wine at Sandstone Cellars


 November 2013

This was a month of wine club events and casual visits, when we could manage them.With the holidays approaching and the end of the semester looming, it didn't provide a lot of time.
Sean (right) and I (left) with James Hong (center) at Wizard World Austin
  •  Wine, Women, and Shoes: Vinously Speaking volunteered their time and expertise at this event to raise money for the San Antonio Food Bank. Hosted by Tanji Patton, this event brought out those searching for a great pair of shoes and interested in good wine, and all for a good cause. Sean and I volunteered to pour wine; Sean poured for Fall Creek and I poured for Becker -- the two Texas wineries present.
  • Wizard World Austin: Yet again, not another wine event. However, we got to meet James Hong and we presented him with a bottle of Pedernales Cellars' 2010 Block One. He seemed to appreciate the gift.
  • Hawk's Shadow: Sean and I missed the special grand opening for Hawk's Shadow (I was sick). Instead, we visited during Thanksgiving weekend. The visit was tremendous. It is an upcoming post.


December 2013

FINALS! The first few weeks of December quickly were taken over by grading and dealing with fussy students (I finished the semester, officially on December 20. I found very little time for anything. What time we had ended up being for Christmas shopping, decorating, and seeing the second Hobbit film. During all that, we had a terrible run of luck; in one day, one car over-heated and was damaged and another got hit. It has been a pain dealing with limited transportation and repairs. We did find a little time to make a few visits.
Sean enjoying himself at Vinously Speaking's Canvas Pop-Up Wine Bar

  • Canvas Pop-Up: Local wine shop owners at Vinously Speaking joined up with the city of San Antonio and Fresh Urban Flowers to help revitalize the shops along Houston Street. Their location -- across from Luke -- provided great art, good music, great nibbles (from Luke) and some unique wines. They also generated a lot of publicity, which is something they deserve.
  • December 22: Sean and I went on a quick visit to a number of wineries. We exchanged freshly baked cookies for wine. Well, not really, but we did share the cookies.

So now that I have a few weeks to catch my breath, I hope to do some redesign on the blog and write some new posts. I also hope to provide more great stories for Texas Wine and Trail. Stay tuned!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Sean Fills Some Space: Saturday, 10/26/2013

Between work and an amazing round of awesome wine things to do, Robin has actually been too busy to get any wine writing done.  Since my schedule is a bit less busy, I thought I’d take some time out of my role-playing game blog to leave some comments over here.

First of all, I’d like to thank Mike and Lynn McHenry of Wedding Oak Winery for letting us stay at their beautiful home on October 26th.  Not having to make the 2+ hour trip back down to San Antonio after a busy day along the Top of the Hill Country Wine Trail was a tremendous relief and allowed us to enjoy the area more.

The drive out to San Saba had to be one of the most pleasant and beautiful long-distance drives I’ve ever made -- even if we did pass at least a score of dead raccoons on the highways.  (Jebus Cripes, there were so many dead raccoons!)  San Saba itself is charming and we’ll have to make a weekend of just enjoying the town and its sights someday soon; we were stunned by the LCRA San Saba River Nature Park look forward to taking in more of the town and its environs. 

Saturday began by checking in at Wedding Oak Winery where Mike McHenry himself gave us our tasting.  Wedding Oak’s location, nestled right in the heart of San Saba, is gorgeous; I can’t think of a tasting room that exceeds its charm and ambience (even if a handful match it).  Winemaker Penny Adams’ work, of course, exceeds the beauty of its surroundings, slipping more toward the Italian side of reds than the French.  Wedding Oaks’ wines are athletic – playful but not immature, exuberant without being childish – in a way that makes me think they could win the FIFA World Cup.

We stopped for lunch at the Bar D Brewhouse, which was recommended to us on the strength of its home-brewed root beer (I’m celiac and so can’t drink real beer).  Honestly, they seemed a bit understaffed and our food took a good while to come.  Mine was a bit burnt, but still tasty, and Robin enjoyed her meal without quibble.  It was a good thing we weren’t in a hurry.     

From San Saba, we then drove out to Alamosa Wine Cellars where winemaker Jim Johnson stared at Robin for a couple of moments before recognizing her (“Wait… I know that hat.”).  I like wines that punch you in the face -- bold, earthy, ornery wines that swagger about like the Man with No Name – and Alamosa delivers those.  I hope that doesn’t make them sound undrinkable to people who prefer softer, fruitier wines, because they’re very, very drinkable.

We mainly stopped in at Fiesta Winery because it’s conveniently close to Alamosa, but were pleasantly surprised to discover they’ve added some actual dry red wines to their fruit-infused line-up.  Hooray!  I apologize to Pilot Knob Vineyard for not swinging by there because the next event took us out in the opposite direction…

Sandstone Cellars Winery – another one of those awesome, face-punchin’ wineries – had a “Hallowine” get-together on Saturday night where they brought in the rest of the Mason County wineries for FREE TASTINGS!  Compass Rose Cellars, Dotson-Cervantes Wines, Fly Gap Winery, and Pontotoc Vineyard were all there GIVING AWAY WINE!!  FOR FREE!!!

(Also, Santos Taqueria is awesome.)

I’m torn.  On the one hand, I am happy that Hallowine was not packed to the gills.  I don’t like crowds and I was happy to have space to breathe.  On the other hand, I am bitterly disappointed that some of the absolute best wineries in Texas were giving away free wine and the streets of Mason were not a jam-packed bacchanal.  What is wrong with you people?!

Seriously, despite all the love I have for the 290 Trail and the Texas wine industry as a whole, I really think that Mason County has the capacity to be our Bordeaux, our Napa, our breakout wine region.  There’s something distinctive about the Mason wines, something that unifies them into one distinct taste sensation (with the exception of Gotas de Oro, which is still awesome).  Maybe it’s the terroir, maybe it’s the Touriga Nacional; I just know I like it.

We also met Bill Worrell.  He's fun.  And we finally met winemaker Don Pullum in person.  He is also awesome.

Unfortunately, all of this awesome was then followed by a terrifying drive back to the McHenry’s house as we kept our paranoid eyes peeled for small, furry mammals.  We really didn’t want to add to the heap of dead raccoons.  We got back to the McHenry’s amazing, bread-and-breakfast-worthy guest suite and promptly fell asleep.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

New Friends in Hye: Hye Meadow Winery’s Grand Opening

Many people knew about Hye Meadow Winery long before it opened. Owners Mike and Denise Batek shared their journey on Facebook, posting updates on the development of the property. Visits by bloggers Jeff Cope and Dave Potter also chronicled the winery’s progress. And before the winery was open, Texas wine fans could try out the wines; I had my first taste at Hye Market, the winery’s next door neighbor, back in June (check out my blog post here). And just before the official opening, the winery welcomed guests to the production room floor to taste wines, providing a growing sample of the Hye Meadow portfolio.

 Figure 1: Hye Meadow Production Floor as Tasting Room

Opening Day
After a long wait, August 3rd rolled around, and Hye Meadow opened the tasting room doors and invited us all in. To mark the occasion, visitors left a bit of themselves on the chalkboard posts that are found throughout the tasting room. The wine tasting included seven wines (a sparkling, three whites, a blush, two reds), but the highlight was the newly released sparkling cuvee. This non-vintage white blend became the base for two different adult slushies: the sparkling with Chambord or the sparkling, Chambord, and Orange Muscat.

Figure 2: Chalkboard "Graffiti"

Good company, great music, tasty food, and a comfortable atmosphere could be found at the grand opening. The staff at the winery, including the owners and winemaker, made sure to make each person feel welcome and comfortable. To aid in this endeavor, the Peached Tortilla came from Austin to provide unique tacos and other light bites. The highlight was the performance by Joe Dalton. Joe, a friend of owners Mike and Denise, sang a mix of well-known songs and original material. His most recent song, “Hye Meadow,” expressed his joy in visiting the winery; inspired by a visit to the scenic grounds and the dreams and hopes of his friends, Joe crafted a heartfelt song that embodies the Texas wine spirit. And as a special gift, visitors received a copy of the single.

Crafting a Texas Wine Experience
Now that the fanfare is quieting down, the winery can focus on its mission. Hye Meadow is still coming together; the back rooms and offices are still being worked out, the new equipment has arrived from Italy and is being prepped for the upcoming harvest, and little pieces are still being tweaked on the grounds. During the quiet times, work is furious and excited behind the scenes. All of this is in hopes of creating a memorable Texas wine experience.

Figure 3: Tasting Room View of Back Porch

One of the goals is to create a relaxing and enjoyable experience. Both Mike and winemaker Jeff Ivy shared what they consider this best sort of experience: one where the guest gets the chance to talk with owners and winemakers. At the grand opening, Mike and Jeff worked to make that a reality, one that will continue. In addition to a warm welcome, comfort is also important. Hye Meadow is set up so guests can wind down: the back porch situated off the tasting room is well shaded, and the open property before it allows for a great breeze. Another aspect Mike is particularly proud of is all the work to make the winery open to everyone; the back porch bar provides access to guests in wheelchairs.

Figure 4: Back View from Front to Back: Outside Bar, Porch, Dance Floor, Events Center

The winery also hopes to host numerous events. The outdoor events center provides a covered getaway for parties and weddings. The ample space offers plenty of room for a large group to dine and relax. It also has an extended porch; guests will feel among the trees as they look out from this elevated space. It also has the best view of the dance floor, nestled among nearby shade trees. And to help with any sort of event, there is a full kitchen for caterers, as well as an extra room right off the women’s restroom. And when the area isn’t reserved, the rest of us can enjoy the shade and view.

Figure 5: Hye Meadow Events Center

As for a wine club, that is still being ironed out. Chris Black informed me that they are still working out the numbers. However, Friends in Hye Places will be available shortly. Mike even has ideas for wine club events; he hopes to bring something unique to his members and is already looking into different ideas.

Producing Great Wine
For winemaker Jeff Ivy, his primary goal is to make high quality wines. To do this, Jeff and Mike look for the best grapes. Jeff admitted that if that means occasionally going outside of Texas (poor quality, limited supply, etc.), he will. As many know, quality and quantity is an issue here in Texas. There are lots of winemakers scrambling for limited grapes, which can make getting good ones difficult. Add in the unpredictable weather, and the market can become rather problematic. This is what the winery faced in its earliest days.
When Hye Meadow was getting started, they struggled to find grapes. Most grapes were promised to others, so Mike and Jeff looked outside the state and turned to Washington state’s Columbia Valley (which is clearly labeled on the wine). These grapes are found in the new sparkling cuvee, the Edelzwicker (Riesling-Gew├╝rztrminer), Shade Tree Blush (Riesling-Cab), and Sangiovese. If the future plans hold, Sangiovese will be sourced from Texas and will remain a part of the portfolio, as well as the sparkling. They would also like to make a Texas version of their Edelzwicker; the grapes in the current blend aren’t particularly Texas friendly, so more Texas friendly grapes are being sought out for future vintages. 

 The future of the winery is Texas. Hye Meadow plans on making wines that are Texas food, clientele, and climate friendly. Right now, three wines are all Texas sourced: the Viognier, the Junkyard Red (Mourvdre-Merlot-Tempranillo), and the Orange Muscat. Early next year, a single varietal Tempranillo will be released (currently, the wine’s nose is lush with oak and pepper that is matched by a subtle progression of flavors). And further down the line will be other warm weather varietals, especially Italian ones. For whites, Jeff wants to work with Trebbiano, Roussane, and Malvasia Bianca. Reds will include Dolcetto, Aglianico, and Montepulciano. The Trebbiano and Dolcetto are the grapes Jeff hopes to make into flagship wines. To help with all of this, Jeff and Mike have been working with a number of Texas growers, including Andy and Dusty Timmons, and will be growing on the Hye Meadow property next to the events center.


Figure 6: From Left to Right: Mike Batek, Chris Blakc, Jeff Ivy

Though each member of the Hye Meadow team looks toward tomorrow, they are clearly aware of how they got to this moment. Mike will happily share the process of building the winery, including how many screws were needed to build the back porch. Jeff tells stories of the lucky breaks in getting grapes, as well as the diverted grape disasters. Chris Black has moved beyond the place holder website to one with a more personal touch. Now all that the winery needs is smiling faces ready to enjoy what they have created.

This article was first published at 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A Different Take on Old Favorites: Visiting Spicewood Vineyards

I don't often venture much past the 290 wine trail here in Texas. I have to do almost all my winery visits as day trips, so staying near home is easier. But that regular circuit of wineries doesn't always inspire me. When there are new wines, events, etc., it is easy to get inspired, but as the days turn long and the winery folks are intent on the grapes ripening on the vine, I look for different pastures. I start close, usually the Driftwood/Dripping Springs area. Recently I went a tad bit further afield and stopped in the Marble Falls area. Sean and I hadn't been to the area wineries in several years; our last visit was right after my grandparents moved from Lago Vista in 2011. On a nice, bright June Saturday, we visited Spicewood Vineyards.

We visited Spicewood back in 2011. At the time, we found the wines decent but lacking some character. We decided to file the winery away and wait to see what happened. Recently, the folks at Vinously Speaking made a visit to Spicewood. There were tales of good times and great wine; and with that said, Spicewood wines ended up on the shop's shelves (The Tempranillo, Merlot, Merlot Rose, and Sauvignon Blanc). This peaked my interest, and so we made the slightly longer drive up 281.

The winery was a bit quiet for a Saturday afternoon -- there were three other small groups besides us. We didn't mind, as they left before we finished, giving us ample time to chat with vineyard manager Brad Dixon and owner Ron Yates. Brad took us through a leisurely tasting as we enjoyed the company of the three winery dogs.We mainly tasted the available menu, but at the end, we were able to taste a few more wines. This tasting was what we had hoped for two years ago. All the wines are small production and use primarily Texas grapes (grape appellation is notated on the tasting menu). The wines also had their own voice, each with its own take on the mainly single variety wines.

Estate Vineyards

The whites were a nice treat. The two we tasted were two of my favorites, Viognier and Albarino. For both, the grapes came from the Texas High Plains; the wines also provided light, subtle takes on the grapes. The Albarino had strong notes of pear with a crisp finish. This was a surprise, as I often expect a hint of sweet in Albraino; instead, I found it in the Viognier, as the aroma of honeysuckle and tastes of melon came through.
Wines for sale at Vinously Speaking, San Antonio, Texas 

Spicewood has a number of roses. The one we tried was the Tempranillo. I first worried that is would resemble the Rose of Tempranillo from Hilmy, but it was a dry rose compared to Hilmy's slightly sweet. Both roses bring out hints of strawberry, but as the Spicewood wine is dry, the strawberry was light, almost floral. 

One of the main reasons we came to Spicewood was their Claret. Sean still stands by Becker's Claret -- even if oftentimes the grapes are not from Texas. Knowing that Spicewood is known for their Claret -- they even have an annual Claret chili cook-off in March -- we were eager to give the newest one a try. This Claret, despite being dominated by Tempranillo (at 55%), is oddly sweet. In fact, I noticed attributes of the other grapes -- 27% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot, and 5% Syrah. The fruit notes are very pronounced and give a sense of sweetness not found in Claret. 

We drank one non-Texas wine, the Grenache from Paso Robles, CA. The nose on this wine reminded me of a Spanish version of this wine, oak and earth. I expected the wine to be more fruity and light, as the variety is often a light-bodied red (check out Becker's Reserve for a good example). However, this Grenache provide depths of flavors with an oak feel mid-palate and ending with a balance of tea and fruit. This unique red asked me to take my time and taste it carefully.

Wines for sale at Vinously Speaking, San Antonio, Texas
We rounded out the main tasting with a High Plains Tempranillo (80% with 20% cCb) and an estate grown  Hill Country Merlot. The Tempranillo hearkened back to the Claret; it was light and fruity with only a hint of the typical spice and earth so often found in Texas Tempranillos. It had hints of the typical Temp found laced through a lighter, fruitier take; I could easily just sip at this wine. The Merlot was the only wine I didn't feel surprised by; it fell in line with many of the Texas Merlot's we had recently been tasting, which is a good thing. The tannins were pronounced in the aroma, leading into flavors of spice and limestone; the fruit was light and interlaced itself through the stronger earthier flavors.

After our main tasting, Brad offered to let us re-taste or taste other wines. Of course, Sean and I were both drawn to the 100% Touriga. Brad informed us that they had been tending the Touriga -- located in Round Mountain -- for someone else. For taking care of the grapes, they got access to the crop. This wine was the result of that hard work. It ended up our favorite of the day. It was a lighter, softer Touriga, especially compared to the ones coming out of  Mason, TX (one of the areas producing the most of it). The fruit flavors, dark berries, dominated but were well supported by spice and earth (the opposite of what we were use to). The balance found in this wine was incredible. We were blown away, and then disappointed. This past year, the owner of the vineyard decided to start charging Spicewood, and they were not interested in the new price. This means no Touriga in the new future. However, the success of the vineyard encouraged them to plant some of their own; that means there will be Touriga again several years from now. 

Painting found at the winery
This recent trip to Spicewood won us over. This was something different, despite the same old varieties. I like to taste the depth and breadth of a grape, to know its various forms. Here, I was provided yet another look at some of my favorites. This year, especially after a trip like this, I have come to appreciate the uniqueness of Texas wines. Different vineyards, different winemakers, etc, craft such a wide range of wines, even when using the same grapes. Because of this, a Texas wine drinker never knows what to expect with each new wine; it is such a wonderful adventure.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Texas Lip Stinger: Bending Branch Winery’s First Texas Picpoul Blanc

The original and complete article can be found at Texas Wine & Trail Magazine.

Texas is definitely home to unique grape and wine varieties, and as of July, Texas can now put the little known Picpoul Blanc on the list. On a relatively mild July night, invited guests and wine club members came out to Bending Branch Winery in Comfort, Texas to try the first ever Texas grown Picpoul Blanc. The small first production – 24 cases – went quickly. This award winning wine – it earned a silver medal in the Lone Star International Wine Competition in June – truly represents the strength and ingenuity of Texas grape growing and winemaking.

All 3 Bending Branch Picpouls & Signature Poster

Bending Branch and Picpoul Blanc

Bending Branch Picpoul Blancs
 From the beginning, Bending Branch made the Picpoul Blanc one of their signature wines. The first Picpoul, and the one visitors to the winery sample, is sourced from Hall Ranch Vineyards in California. This wine is an important part of the winery’s portfolio, along with the Tannat. Like the Tannat, there has been some experimentation (last year saw a Tannat port). A few years back, Bending Branch began to age some of the Picpoul in some slightly used bourbon barrels to create the Single Barrel Picpoul Blanc; this particular version of the wine is used in making Mint Juleps for the winery’s annual Kentucky Derby party. And like the Tannat, winemakers Bob Young and John Rivenburgh wanted to bring this grape to Texas, and they accomplished this with the new Estate Picpoul.

Single Barrel Picpoul Mint Julep, 2013 Kentucky Derby Party

Bending Branch’s Estate Picpoul

As for this new wine, one guest remarked that the Estate Picpoul holds true to the variety, and of course, it was a pleasant wine for summer in Texas. One of the most remarkable elements is the acid. This particular vintage has noticeable acid from beginning to end, adding a bite and crispness that is refreshing. In fact, the wine almost seems as if it was carbonated; the acid creates an effervescent mouth feel.

Figure 4: Bending Branch Estate Picpoul
As for the aroma, it is a soft, subtly herb scent with a hint of lemon, maybe lemongrass. This moved well into the taste, which is predominately lemon. For me, the wine is more of a sour, rather than sweet, lemonade. This lemonade flavor is the understated sort, almost as if it has a mild hint of lime; at one point it makes me think of a bit of lemonade with Sprite. While talking to other guests and Jennifer Beckmann, the winery’s Director of Marketing and Certified Sommelier, we turned to the other flavors, particularly the herbaceous element of the wine. Jennifer described the sort of lemons used in hot toddies –ones steeped with a cinnamon stick. I think this description fits well, as it suggests the pleasant but refined sour lemon taste with the balance and lightness created by the herbs.

Estate Picpoul
The Estate Picpoul, the first estate wine for Bending Branch, was a hit at the release party. The strength of this estate grown wine has made fans of the winery eager for more. Later this year, Bending Branch will also release an Estate Tannat, joining the RF, EM, and Texas Tannat, as well as a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Aglianico, and Tempranillo. This is good news for Texas wine.

Unfortunately, this first round of Texas grown Picpoul will have a rather limited audience (there were 4 cases as of this morning, July 14). Hopefully, it is only a taste of things to come because this bright wine with delicate tones matches well with Texas. There is something bold in the acid as it stings the lips and incites the taste buds. The subtle, harmonious flavors are not so different from a scenic drive through the hill country. Bending Branch has added another wine to Texas’ extensive portfolio, one that has great potential.