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.

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