Wednesday, April 30, 2014

An Ode to Comfort: Late Winter at Bending Branch

And for the last day of National Poetry Month...

Over the hills, two bird’s call
and answer one another;
a song in balance, a high
and a low, heard but not seen.

Back and forth they continue, high,
higher, their voices reach;
carried aloft, subtle breezes
cannot hide an unexpected discord.

It must be the wind, winter kissed
that ruffle the leaves that hide them.
It must be the cold, slipping past their feathers,
driving through them like a knife.

But, ah, there is the sun, yellow-
white, peeking through slow moving clouds.
The warmth brushes past the chill,
A warmth beneath the pair’s feathers.

The debate calms and settles,
softened by the mounting warmth.
They sing in harmony, together
with a third voice: the wind’s whisper.

Note: This poem is not inspired by any wine; however, it was inspired by a visit to Bending Branch earlier this year. It was quite day that bordered on winter and spring. Sometimes, the setting at the winery is inspiration all on its own.

ALSO, the 4th Annual Bending Branch Derby Party is on Saturday, May 3 from 11-6. s usual, I will be there with a new hat. For more info, see my article on Texas Wine and Trail.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Spring Celebration at Messina Hof -- Bryan

*Note: This article also ran on Texas Wine and Trail.
Spring is in full bloom, especially at Messina Hof in Bryan. On Friday, April 25th they will celebrate with their Spring Release Dinner and 30th Wine & Roses Festival on Saturday, April 26. These events are a highlight to the beginning of a new year in Texas wine. This year will be my first time attending as well as visiting the Bryan location.

A Taste of the Season: Spring Release Dinner
The Spring Release Dinner starts the weekend. An evening of fine dining will be paired with new vintages of Messina Hof wines. The four course meal includes a wine infused salad course, a ragu cooked with Merlot, veal, and a chocolate dessert. Part of the entertainment for the evening will include an auction, whose proceeds will benefit the Brazos Valley Museum of Natural History.

Interested parties can join the fun by purchasing individual seats or reserving a table. For more information on the dinner, visit the events page at Messina Hof.

Everything in Bloom: The 30th Annual Wine & Roses Festival
The major event for the weekend is the 30th Annual Wine and Roses Festival on the winery grounds, Saturday, April 26. This tradition marks the recent budding of the vines, as well as the blooming of the roses. During the festivities, the mayor of Bryan will also proclaim Messina Hof Day. Like the dinner the night before, proceeds from the festival will be donated to the Brazos Valley Museum of Natural History.

The festival starts at 2pm and runs until 8 that evening. During the day, festival goers can enjoy live music – including artists Joe Teichman, Haley Cole, and The Rock-A-Fellas – throughout the day. During the day, visitors can watch the competitive grape stomps (include a celebratory stomp with area businesses and organizations), visit with local artisans and vendors, and vote on the new Messina Hof wine labels during the 24th annual competition. All of this fun is free and family friendly.

For a little extra, guests can enjoy even more of the festival. There are ticket packages available at the Messina Hof website (and by phone at 1-800-736-WINE ext. 234) that include tickets for food (from the available food trucks) and drinks, as well as other goodies like a tasting glass, lanyard, and t-shirt. Tickets for the food and wine will also be available at the festival.

For extra fun, guests can take part in the various entertainments. Small groups can take part in the grape stomps. Groups are between 2-4 people and cost an additional $50; to reserve, guests need to class the reservation line. There will also be other entertainments like a Pinot Noir Painting Class hosted by the Artists Screen Cooperative from Austin, TX. And for those with a sweet tooth or in need of some decadence, there will also a Wine & Chocolate Pairing Class.

And while at the festival, visitors will be encouraged to share their fun via social networks. The winery will be hosting a special Tweet Spot. Those who are lucky enough to acquire a pass to the Tweet Spot will get a chance to taste and tweet about the new releases from Friday’s dinner (a great opportunity for those not above to attend the dinner the night before). Guests will need to complete their passport and for a one-time entrance to the area. I will live tweet and post on facebook throughout the day (since I have all-day access to the tweet spot as a member of the media). Check site for more info.

This weekend in Bryan promises lots of great food, great wine, and great fun. I can't wait till Friday. No matter what you prefer, there is something waiting for you at the 30th Annual Wine & Roses Festival at Messina Hof. I'll see you there.

Messina Hof Bryan is located 4545 Old Reliance Road, Bryan, Texas 77808.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Distilling Summer: Pedernales Cellars' Reds

A washed out blue sky
A pale winter sun
Pedernales Cellars in early March
Streaming wisps of paper-thin clouds
Stretch out above the rolling hills
Swelling with soft brown grasses
Dancing beneath a soft southern breeze.

A kiss of warmth breaks the cold:
Winter’s embrace softens, loosens just enough
To allow a bit of gold to sneak in
Among the last clutches of green leaves
Turning olive on the branches
Before they are swept to the hard earth below.

I sip on memories of August heat
radiating in the last flames of ruby at sunset
and fighting back the cool creeping depths
of midnight purple night:

Distilled summer caught in each grape
Crushed into a liquid gem.

Two of the wines that inspired the poem.
 *This poem was inspired by a day drinking a number of red wines while sitting on the porch at Pedernales Cellars. The view is always inspiring, but on this day, I saw something very different. This was just after the big freeze and icing in the Hill Country and San Antonio. That Saturday had grown considerably warmer (compared to just that Thursday), but winter was still the prominent season. Somehow, though, the sunny day and the red wines -- I believe we were drinking a Texas Family Reserve and Tempranillo Reserve -- fought hard against the cold and the future freeze that would be just days away.