Archive for August, 2009

The Dallas Wine Trail (2)……

Saturday, August 29th, 2009

The Dallas Wine Trail is hosting its Grand Tasting Part Duex on Saturday, September 5 2009 from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Visit Inwood Estates Vineyards, Calais Winery, Fuqua Winery and Times Ten Cellars.  Jump to the info here.

Deep Ellum Wine?

Saturday, August 29th, 2009

One of the things that make Texas wineries so interesting is the people behind the wine.  We first met Benjamin Calais at his Dallas Deep Ellum winery.  Calais Winery has a cool Deep Ellum wine lounge vibe but Benjamin is serious about his wine and wines from old world and new world artisanal wine producers. Benjamin, a cool young French winemaker, makes his own wine that he names after streets in Deep Ellum and he sources wines that he personally selects from around the world, offering tasting and purchase by the bottle.  Take a seat at the tasting bar and Benjamin will tell you about what he is doing and why.  He will also recommend his own picks and tell you about the source and why he likes it.  For his own wines Benjamin is straight forward about his grape sources.  Right now most of his grapes come from California because Texas grapes have a limited supply and are more expensive.  Benjamin tells us he never could have started his own winery in France so we all benefit from the Texas wine laws that allow young winemakers to start small.  For more info on Calais Winery check out calaiswinery.com.  The Calais Winery tasting bar is a comfortable place to increase your wine knowledge and get to know the new generation of Texas winemakers.  

Benjamin Calais on Food Roots Eat Green DFW Tour July 11, 2009

Benjamin Calais on Food Roots Eat Green DFW Tour July 11, 2009

Texas Wine and the Twitter Taste Off

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

 

Drinklocalwine.com was started by Jeff Siegel and Dave McIntyre to discuss regional wine, defined as wine that is not from California, Washington or Oregon.  Among many other writing activities Jeff and Dave write The Wine Curmudgeon and the WineLine blogs.  Regional wine is regional because it is distributed regionally, locally or not at all (some is available only at the winery).  Texas wine clearly falls into the category of regional wine, and on August 15th drinklocalwine.com held its first-ever conference and tasting in Dallas. Called the GO TEXAN DrinkLocalWine.com Conference, the all day event, co-sponsored by the Texas Department of Agriculture’s Go Texan program, focused on Texas wine and featured some of the state’s best wines, top winemakers, and leading growers.  We were fortunate to be asked to participate.  Mary sat on the first panel of the day discussing Texas wine trends from an agri-tourism and locavore perspective.  I thought a big point of the day was hit home when high plains grower Neal Newsom stated the volume of his high yield and a guy from California laughed out loud and said “That’s not high”.  Growing grapes in Texas is way different from growing grapes in California.  Each grape growing and wine making region in the U.S. has its own unique challenges, successes and failures and the guys from drinklocalwine.com want to talk about it.  And talk they did.  The day ended with a Texas Twitter Taste Off with a room full of some of the best wineries in the state each pouring two of their wines and wine and food writers from all over the U.S. Twittering and blogging about it.  Check out some of the Tweets here and view a couple of YouTube videos here and here.  You can also read more on the conference on Jeff’s and Dave’s blog.

Cheese In The Heart Of Texas - The Event

Saturday, August 15th, 2009

 

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When we walked into the ground floor lobby of the Hilton Austin we could smell the cheese, and the festival was on the fourth floor!  If you love cheese or even if you just like cheese (which includes just about everyone) the American Cheese Society annual Festival of Cheese would be a good thing to put on your Bucket List or 100 things to do before you die list or whatever you call your list.  The 2009 festival in Austin featured a chance to taste over 1000 farmstead, artisan and specialty cheeses and a couple thousand cheese lovers showed up to take it all in.  Where do we start?  External Blue Molded? Cheddar Wrapped in Cloth aged over 12 months?  Fresh Savory Goat’s Milk?  We got selective with our tasting very quickly because there is no way we could possibly taste everything and cheese overload can set in quickly if you don’t pace yourself.  We found a lot of our favorite Texas cheeses and we were able to catch up with Texas cheese makers Paula Lambert, Edgar Diaz, and Stuart and Connie Veldhuizen.  In the end we did pace ourselves pretty well and we headed out in search of a low fat cheese-free dinner.  Sushi was perfect.  The festival is an amazing cheese experience showcasing the vast number of excellent specialty cheeses being made in North America and we are proud of our Texas cheese makers for giving us excellent specialty cheese that we can enjoy every day.  Thanks Y’all.

 

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The Omnivore’s Confusion

Thursday, August 13th, 2009

 

If our personal dilemma is what do we eat, we have a larger collective dilemma of how do we grow what we eat.  We have trouble personally deciding what to eat and we certainly seem to be unable to agree on the best way to grow or raise our food. The Omnivore’s Delusion: Against the Agri-intellectuals presents a defense of industrial agriculture and a repudiation of Michael Pollan’s Polyface Farm utopia.  We love the Polyface Farm idea and in fact have found a Texas version at JuHa Ranch but we are always faced with the reality of industrial agriculture and its huge impact on our lives.  This article has created a lot of buzz on the blogs and a lot of impassioned responses.  If you are a Michael Pollan believer we are sure you can easily poke holes in the message.  Do turkeys really drown themselves in the rain?  My sources say No.  A friend of ours tells us flat out “don’t mess with Michael Pollan”.  We understand this is both an intellectual and emotional issue for many people but shouldn’t we sometimes at least hear from the other side?  Whether you agree with the message or not, it is food for thought.  Do we sometimes suffer from an omnivore’s brain food dilemma?

Texas Cheese Takes the Bleu

Sunday, August 9th, 2009

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Texas Cheese was well represented at the American Cheese Society 2009 Judging and Competition in Austin last week.  Four Texas cheese makers took blue ribbons including the Dallas Mozzarella Company for their Queso Oaxaca, Latte Da Dairy in Flower Mound for their Feta with Kalamata Olives and Garland based Lucky Layla Farms (Moo Cheeses) for their Natural Plain Drinkable Yogurt.  Pure Luck in Dripping Springs took two blue ribbons for their Basket Molded Chevre and Hopelessly Bleu goat cheese.  Veldhuizen Family Farm in Dublin, Brazos Valley Cheese in Waco and Deborah Rogers Farmstead Cheese in Fort Worth were also entered in the competition.  Texas cheese makers are doing great things and though our cheese industry is small, our cheese is some of the best in the country.

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La Buena Vida Springtown

Saturday, August 1st, 2009

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As far as we know, no one sells true Texas sparkling wine, but Dr. Bobby Smith is still making his own méthode champenoise sparkling wine at his La Buena Vida Vineyards and winery at Springtown.  Dr. Smith is a Texas wine pioneer who planted his vineyards in the 1970s and helped change the Texas law that eventually allowed wineries to sell wine in dry areas and to ship to customers inside the state creating our current boom in Texas wine.  Dr. Smith grows a number of varietals in his vineyard and makes wine under his private label as well as for the La Buena Vida label.  He occasionally also makes honey mead which he bottles and sells at the winery.  He makes the sparkling wine for his own enjoyment.  As a young man he worked in some of the top Champagne houses in France.  He tells us he still does riddling by hand just to keep in practice but being a man of many interests he also has a modern roto-pallette.  A visit to his winery is a trip back in time where winemaking is an adventure to be shared and a taste of unfiltered wine from the vat is a treat he enjoys sharing.  Dr. Bobby Smith is a true gentleman and an icon of Texas winemaking. He welcomes visitors to his vineyard and winery in Springtown but if you want to visit it is best to call ahead. 

2009 grapes ready for harvest at La Buena Vida Springtown

2009 grapes ready for harvest at La Buena Vida Springtown