Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Texas Hill Country is the Place to Be! -- UPDATED Prize Package!

It seems the rest of the wine loving world is catching on to something I already knew: the Texas Hill Country is AWESOME! As most may already know, Wine Enthusiast Magazine named the Texas Hill Country one of the top ten wine regions to visit.


So how well did my go-to retreat stack up? Well, the top ten list offers some of the best known wine regions, like Mendoza in Argentina (one of my dream vacations), Sonoma in the US's #1 wine state, the US's #2 wine state -- Washington -- funniest named city (Walla Walla), the red clay vistas of Australia's Barossa Valley, a well known wine region -- Languedoc -- in France, and Umbria in Italy. It also has wine regions that are also beautiful escapes, like the Aegean Islands in Greece, Mexico's Valle de Guadalupe (in my circles, Mexican wine has been a current topic of conversation), and Baden in Germany. So all and all, Texas has found itself well placed and deservedly so.

And I have to admit, I was totally happy with the accompanying piece detailing the wonders of Texas' blooming wine country. First, they spotlighted one of of favorite restaurants, Pecan Street Brewing. Sean and I started going here when we found out that they have extensive gluten-free offerings (since Sean suffers from Celiac disease). We fell in love with the variety in the menu, and the great tasting food draws us back again and again. We have also enjoyed Salt Lick BBQ, though we were surprised that it was cash only. The article does forget to mention that Salt Lick has its own Texas wine.

It was the wine section that made me smile. Many of the smiling faces I regularly see out and about in the hill country shared their enthusiasm with the magazine. Bending Branch, one of my favorites if you haven't guessed by the number of articles I have done about them -- is prominently featured. Some of my other wine clubs -- Pedernales Cellars and Lewis Wines -- make an appearance. Perissos in Burnet is also mentioned. Too bad they didn't say anything about nearby Inks Lake State Park; a visit to the park and a glass wine at Perissos is a great way to spend a day. They also mentioned Flat Creek. Every time I visit, I get nostalgic; I spent many summers, holidays, and random weekends in nearby Lago Vista. My grandparents had owned a house with a view of Lake Travis. Before they moved, it was easy to swing by the winery, as their house was about 15 minutes away.

On the hiking trails at Inks Lake State Park near Perissos

The best part of the article, however, is the giveaway. For the next month, visitors to the Wine Enthusiast website can try their hand at winning one great hill country vacation. The vacation package includes: 
  • Round-trip flights and transportation for two to Texas
  • Up to 8-night accommodations at local B&Bs and winery accommodations in the Texas Hill Country
  • Guaranteed visits at up to 12 wineries
  • Select exquisite multi-course wine-and-food dinners 
But that is just the overview. Thanks to the generosity of the many hill country wineries and organizations, there are many rare special treats:
  • A night at Flat Creek Estate, plus a tour of the property, a wine-tasting experience, and brunch at Bistro Restaurant.
  • One night’s stay at Bending Branch Winery, including a tour hosted by the winemaker and an intimate lunch.
  • Two night’s stay at Becker Vineyards’s Lavender Haus—an 1,800-square-foot private property, complete with a patio and fireplace.
  • Four nights at Cotton Gin, featuring a dinner for two at Cabernet Grill, where Executive Chef Ross Burtwell specializes in fresh seafood dishes, wild game and ranch fare.
  • A multi-course wine pairing dinner for two at The Bistro at Flat Creek Estate prepared by top-notch Executive Chef Sean Fulford.
  • Dinner at Otto’s German Bistro—an upscale eatery serving Germanic cuisine, classic cocktails, craft beers and New World and Old World wines.
  • An afternoon with the winemaker at Lewis Wines
  • Lunch and cellar tour with the vintner at Pedernales Cellars
  • Tour of and tasting at Perissos Vineyard and Winery lead by the owner/winemaker
  • Cellar tour with a barrel tasting at Grape Creek Vineyards
  • A tour through three Texas Hill Country wineries hosted by Hill Country Bike & Wine.
  • Gift Baskets packed with a variety of Go Texan products to take home, concierge service and car rental service.
  • Car service will be provided for one day and a rental will be provided for the remainder of the trip. A driver can also be requested for the duration of the trip. The Texas Hill Country strongly advises against drinking and driving. Drink responsibly. 
UPDATE!!!
Four more Texas Hill Country Wineries  have added to this great prize.
  • Wedding Oak has added a tasting and tour at the winery (which is lots of fun). They have added a unique gift, a food and wine pairing at the Wedding Oak tree. That would be a very romantic visit. 
  • Stone House Winery has now provided one of their famous Stone House dinners.
  • William Chris Vineyards is offering a wine appreciation and cheese pairing class. This should be a great treat, as the winery supports Texas made cheese.
  • Finally, Fall Creek is providing a tour and tasting at their beautiful winery, but they also are providing lunch at their perfect spot on Lake Buchanan. 

For me, I started to ponder some of these wonderful prizes. I wondered, where will the guests stay at Flat Creek and Bending Branch? Can you really stay at the Lavender Haus at Becker? Is the Bike and Wine tour going to be on a bike (because I have thought about doing that)? The list could go on.

Lake Travis seen from Balcones Canyonland National Refuge near Flat Creek
Also as the prize grows, I ponder how someone will get to do all this wonderful fun in just 8 days. So, to Wine Enthusiast, I ask that you choose me. I will be able to enjoy all of this, as I live within 2 and an half hours from any of these wineries.

Now I have had the chance to enjoy a small but of this, but nowhere near all of it, so of course, I have done my share to win the trip (this blog post will be worth 10 entries!). I won't need the airfare -- Bending Branch is just over 30 minutes from my house -- but I still would love to win this package. I would like a chance to sit down with some of the winemakers that I don't get to talk with regularly. I want a chance to spend some quality times wandering the winding hilly roads, without the worry of having to race home at the end of the day. Honestly, this contest is an escape. I may escape here often, but a long escape here would be perfect.

So here is to Wine Enthusiast recognizing what I have always known: the Hill Country has great wine, great places to stay, wonderful food (and reasonable prices too), fun things to do, and best of all great people. They have had a chance to sample our wines and enjoy what we enjoy all the time. Our secret is out.

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