La Buena Vida Springtown

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

Cheese In The Heart Of Texas

July 27th, 2009

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The ACS opens their Festival of Cheese to the public.

The American Cheese Society comes to Texas for the first time in 26 years.  The annual conference is for members only, but if you are lucky enough to be in Austin on Saturday, August 8 you can attend the Festival of Cheese.  This is the premiere cheese event in the United States.  It showcases all of the cheeses entered in the Annual Judging & Competition including some great Texas cheese.  The festival will feature more than 1,000 artisan and specialty cheeses from producers throughout North America and it promises to be the most outrageous display of cheeses you have ever experienced.  The festival is at the Hilton Austin at 500 E. 4th street on Saturday August 8 from 5:30 to 9:30.  Tickets are $75 each and are available on the ACS website.  Availability is limited.

The Locavore Dairyman

July 16th, 2009

Todd Moore's Guernsey at the 2009 Fort Worth Stock Show

Todd Moore's Guernsey at the 2009 Fort Worth Stock Show

The Locavore movement is being promoted in some interesting places.  Last week Plano dairyman Todd Moore (Lavon Farms) hosted the national convention of the American Guernsey Association in Richardson Texas.  The meeting had some unusual events.  Texas was a first as a venue (Todd is one of only four Guernsey farmers in Texas).  The national sale was held on the stage of the Eisemann Center for the Performing Arts.  And then there is the locavore connection.  For the gala dinner on Saturday night Todd worked with two Dallas area chefs to create a dinner with  locally sourced ingredients.  The convention also opened the dinner to the public so that folks interested in dairy farming or just interested in learning more about where their food comes from could have dinner with the dairy farmers.

Read a more complete review of the dinner here

Milk price is a huge issue with the farmers.  Todd Moore is trying to find is own solution to that problem.  He turns his milk into his own value-added products.  Todd and his business partner Edgar Diaz own Lucky Layla.  The creamery in Garland turns Todd’s high quality Guernsey and Jersey milk into premium artisan dairy products including a variety of cheese and an awesome drinkable yogurt.  You can find the yogurt at Whole Foods and Central Market.

How Small is a Small Chicken Farm?

July 13th, 2009

If you saw the film Food Inc. you saw the dark houses required by large chicken processors.  The Illinois River watershed in eastern Oklahoma is one of the largest areas in the U.S. for producing broilers (birds raised for meat) raising more than 8 billion pounds of turkeys and chickens annually.   The Oklahoma Attorney General recently filed a lawsuit against a dozen Arkansas poultry processors accusing them of polluting the watershed with bird waste.  Farmers claim if the suit succeeds it could drive small farmers out of business.  Some of these farms are hundreds of acres with over 100,000 birds.  When does a small farm become big?  Read more here and here.

Destroying Crops for Food Safety

July 13th, 2009

Organic farmers plant bio-diverse buffers around their crops to harbor beneficial insects as an alternative to harmful pesticides.  In California the trend now is to destroy parts of fields in an attempt to create a sterile buffer all in the name of food safety.  Large customers fearful of E. coli are now demanding crop isolation as a way to prevent contact between crops and potential carriers of E. coli.  Can agriculture be sanitized?  Read more here.

Greer Farm - Daingerfield Texas

May 5th, 2009

Texas Blueberries at Greer Farm

Texas Blueberries at Greer Farm

Located near Daingerfield, Texas, Greer Farm is a land of lush pastures and mixed pine and hardwood forests nestled in the slow moving world of Northeast Texas. The Greers raise hay, figs, plums and berries, pine timber and full-blood red and white Maine-Anjou cattle. Their cattle eat only fresh grass and forages and hay. The large pick-your-own berry patch features rows of beautiful blueberry and blackberry plantings.

The Greers are pioneers of Texas agritourismo. Agritourismo started in Italy in the 1980s. Farms become tourist destinations where guests can immerse themselves in local farm culture and way of life. Agritourismo is an emerging idea for Texas but an important one that allows casual visitors to experience the unique, varied and vastly rich Texas farm and ranch culture. The Greers share the fruits of their labor by opening their farm to guests. Day guests can pick berries, tour the farm and buy farmstead produce. Overnight guests can rent one of the log cabins fronting their private lake.

The farm was established in the mid 1800s and still has many original buildings. Since owning the farm, the Greers have preserved many historic features while creating a modern working farm. Through hard work, good stewardship and a clear vision the Greers have created a working farm that is an inviting and relaxing place to visit.

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