Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Summer Fun: May 2015

As the temperatures rise, I naturally seek indoors, especially here in Texas. Before long, I find myself without much to do. But, this summer has not followed tradition. For one, it has stayed cooler -- thus far -- and there has been plenty to do. Events quickly filled up my calendar. So in between teaching classes and household chores that I put off until I had time, I have found myself at one place or another. As it all begins to slow down, I finally can sit back and share some of these special occasions.

So first up... May. Things started off quick. I waded through finals and portfolios for the six classes I was teaching, but I often got away.

Annual Kentucky Derby Party @ Bending Branch Winery

We started the month with one of our new annual traditions. For this year's party, Bending Branch made it a ticketed event. This new system limited the number of people so the winery could provide a better overall experience. The party was held at the new production facility out on the crush pad. This location provided plenty of room, shade, and space for a very large screen. Some guests brought snacks and picnics, but everyone also enjoyed a BBQ plate, a glass of wine and bourbon ball. Before the race, guests lined up to complete in this years hat contest. Contestants took the fun to a whole new level, which made me glad I opted out and wore my first wine hat. The afternoon culminated with the race. Who knew we would watch he first Triple Crown win in decades.

Pedernales Cellars Reserve Viognier Release

So, a wine release may not seem like much, unless it is the long awaited Reserve Viognier. Two years ago, this incredible wine took Double Gold at an international wine competition in Lyon, France, opening the door for a growing list of Texas winners. Last year, weather took the crop, and most Texas white grapes, so when a 2014 vintage became available, Pedernales threw a small party. Media came out to sample the wine and pairings. All guests did a vertical tasting of the award winning Viognier (which is NO longer available) and the newest vintage. The current release is clearly a young wine. The 12 leads with rich, golden stone fruit flavors with just enough citrus and acid to create nice balance. The 14 is tart and powerful; citrus notes -- and the sense of citric acid -- dominate to create a crisp wine; the typical stone fruit characteristics are bright and light and show promise to settle this wild child. Drink 12 now and hold 14 till at least 2016.

Memorial Day Weekend

We all know the big story: rain. Sean and I ventured up on Saturday to see some friends from out of town. While lounging at our last stop for the day -- Hye Meadow -- the rain came in. We thought we could wait it out since the rain began relatively earlier (around 3). We were wrong. We finally gave in at 6 and made the long drive home in the downpour. We had to avoid two of our normal routes -- 1376 through Sisterdale and 281 -- because of flooding (after only a few hours). We made it home safe and sound to hear that many areas were devastated. As a Texas State grad, I was saddened by the losses in San Marcos, as well as the neighboring communities (Wimberely and Blanco) where many of the residents I got to know during my three years at school lived. Of course, in the following days, many wineries reached out to help those in need.

Anniversary Weekend

Many Hill Country wineries celebrated their anniversaries in May. We were lucky enough to go to two "first" year ones at the very end of the month.

Fat Ass Winery threw a large party for friends and wine club members. A beautiful sunset set the stage (the weekend after the Memorial day rains). The band jammed all night, and their rhythms just demanded dancing. Of course, a highlight was the wine slushes; these tasty creations went down well. The bit surprise were the two new dry reds now available.

Compass Rose Cellars celebrated 1 year in Hye as well. Of course, the winery is always growing. The new restaurant headed by Bryan Gillenwater headlined the evening, as well as the view. This night was more low key, just like the relaxing mood set by the locale. The winery had lots to celebrate. In addition to the restaurant, they broke ground on new production facilities in Hye and have begun work on their take on a B&B. Year two will have some serious celebrating.

As May came to a close, June beckoned with even more fun.

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