Paying bills on time to avoid bad credit, scheduling time off work to go to the doctor, having to watch what comes out of your mouth instead of saying what you want, there are a lot of reasons why being a grown up (excuse me, an adult) sucks balls.
Why, when we were younger, did we do all we could to look older and act older and feel older when the only truly good things about being older is not only the freedom to do what the hell you want but, also, the bold… the light… the bubbly… the-dry-the purple-the-red-the-white-the-beautiful liquid that is fermented grape juice.
Yes, my lovely humans, wine. Vino. Vin. Wein. Your very own liquid courage, your cheap therapist, your Netflix buddy, your My-God-I-Have-To-Spend-All-Day-With-My-In-Laws partner. Benjamin Franklin got it wrong when he said “nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes”. Clearly, he forgot “and wine” because wine will be there for you like The Jackson 5.
This particular post is here for one reason and one reason only… as it has recently come to my attention that the majority of people in this world, the United States and even Texas, itself, don’t know that my lovely state, the lone star state where “y’all” is a word and chivalry isn’t lost, is a land of some surprisingly satisfying vineyards and wineries.
If you’re not super into drinking wine, hopefully this helps you come around to wanting to at least give it the old college try. Whether you like it cold, hot or room temperature; no matter if it’s sweet or dry or carbonated; no matter if it’s a fruity mimosa at breakfast or a crisp sauvignon blanc at lunch, because it’s 5 o’clock somewhere, and there’s something for everyone.
Once you are in my life or if you just heed my word, my children, you will most likely come around to drinking wine. Take my boyfriend for example. When we first had googly eyes for one another on our first date at an Italian restaurant, I asked if he wanted to share a half liter of wine; his response, “sure, but I don’t really like wine”. Taking that as a yes, we began his journey into wine culture and now it’s part of our dinner routine for us to try new wines and critique them on our amateur level; a successful convert!
Are you still vacillating over if you want to join the club or not? Here’s a twist some of you may not know, wine (when consumed in moderation) is good for you! Red wine has a few more benefits than white as the skins that make red wine are packed with more antioxidants than white. Not only that, but drinking wine is said to improve heart health! But don’t take my word for it; you all have the internet at your fingertips, so ask Siri what she has to say about it.
The primary reason why I am so partial to wine is because I grew up with it. When I was but a wee lass at 14, my dad started making it in our suburban pantry out of concentrate. It would take him only 3 months to make it, and I would then help him bottle it into about 30 used wine bottles with the labels peeled off. These wines would be drunk on special occasions, given out to family and friends or just enjoyed with dinner on a Monday night.
He started making the sweet stuff first. Sweet reds. It’s all my mom, sister and I would drink. Nowadays we can’t stand sweet wine; this is quite common among winos; when starting your taste buds, it may be easier for you to start sweet! When this transformation of taste buds began, my father quickly, and happily, switched to making dry cabernet, and eventually stopped bottling all together – it would take too long to bottle for how fast it was drunk, so my daddio kept a big-ass syringe near the big-ass (AKA 6 gallon) jug, to fill any glass that got close enough.
Before I knew it, my parents were spending their weekends in the Texas countryside, exploring different wineries. Then I hit 21 years old, baby (by the way, why is the US of A so damn stingy about the drinking age?). The time where I could tag along to the vineyards and actually have some fermented fun in the fresh air surrounded by bountiful grapevines and other amiable winos had finally come. Regardless of living in San Antonio at the time, I spent many summer days and weekends home with my madre and padre at Texas wineries, walking through the vines, finding puppies to pet and further developing my palate, A.K.A. my thirst, for wine.
Even though I started young, it’s not too late for you to get out there and see what Texas has to offer. After California, Washington and Oregon, Texas has the most wineries and vineyards in the US with over 500 of them scattered about our hot, dry lands. Our high temperatures and lack of rainfall are ideal for growing the grapes that make this nectar for the Gods.
Some of you may ask… what’s the difference between a winery and a vineyard? Well, my friends, a vineyard grows grapes and a winery makes wine, but a winery can also be where they sell wine and are additionally known as tasting rooms. Some wineries are named after their pairing vineyards which is where they get their grapes, whilst other wineries buy grapes from other vineyards to make their wine. Many vineyards and wineries are at the same location, as well, making it easier to see the process and experience the outcome.
When I winery hop around various locations such a Grapevine Main Street in Grapevine, Texas, there are many wineries, but not all even buy grapes or grow their own grapes from Texas vineyards. This is a question I ask the wine-slingers when I enter an unknown winery – where do you get your grapes? I want TEXAS wine made from TEXAS grapes (not to say that’s all I drink; Italian (especially Barbera) and Chilean (specifically Carménère) wines are other favorites of mine). The reasoning behind my snobbery, you ask? Because Texas wine is DAMN GOOD, y’all.
Along with Grapevine Main Street Fredericksburg is an awesome place to winery hop! A city with much German heritage and much more wine, it’s a fantastic place to spend your day, and it’s only about an hour outside of San Antonio.
Now, I know all of you are dying for the good stuff, so here it is. The following are just a few of my preferred Texan vineyards in order of how much I like them with Marker being first!
Marker Cellars – Located in Alvord, this is a beautiful country winery owned by the always pleasant Mark and Becky. Complete with horses (3), puppies (zin and vino) and a cat that you can sometimes spot lounging in various places, this is where you will undoubtedly consume great wine with friendly people and maybe even buy a cigar to puff. You’ve got to try the Lightning cab! Your tastebuds will thank you. Check their site for events! (only location)
Bingham – Another fab winery on Main Street in Grapevine and one you should include in your Fredericksburg trip, those are two of their three locations. Their actual vineyard is located out in Meadow, TX, but the tasting room there is by appointment only, and as much as I do love their wine (particularly Dirt Farmer and Carignan) I don’t recommend driving out just for this as it’s not yet an aesthetically pleasing location to relax and drink wine. They say they’re going to eventually work on turning it into more of an experience. Anyway, the wine is what matters, and theirs is still in my top Texas favorites!
Red Caboose – Settled on the outskirts of the quaint town of Meridian, this is another beautiful country winery that often has a food truck, always has friendlies and a pup named Buddy. When you go here, ask for a J. Howard (part port, part wine – YUM). Top notch place, this one. (Secondary tasting room located in Clifton)
Messina Hof – My most frequented of their locations is on Main Street in Grapevine. Man, they have some damn good ones. No matter what you like, you will find something here with their wide selection. You can, also, check out their locations in Bryan (main location) and Fredericksburg.
Umbra – Additionally, Umbra winery is a source of always scrummy (British slang for yummy) wine. Their main location is on Main Street in Grapevine just a few blocks from Messina Hof. They also offer a good variety of tasty apps along with their wine.
If you want a less city, more country afternoon, then go to their location in Springtown called La Buena Vida.
Becker – Located in Fredericksburg and reliably delicious; definitely include this one when you winery hop around this small city. (only location)
Blue Ostrich – Yes. There are actually Ostriches here! Along the way to this winery, stop by Muenster to grab some snacks at the local grocery store since this place doesn’t have food, but the wine makes up for it. (only location)
I hope you get a chance to explore these wineries! Some other wineries I like are Llano Estacado (Lubbock), Bluff Dale Vineyards (Bluff Dale) and Pillar Bluff (Lampasas).
If you’re just starting out on wine, begin with a sweet Moscato or a Gewürztraminer, then go into a Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc before making your way to the better color (red, obviously). Pinot Noir is a perfect red with which to start as it’s a lighter varietal. Next try a Malbec before jumping into Cabernet Sauvignon or if you do find white is your thing, a Chardonnay or Viognier (my favorite white varietal).
It’s summer, my nerds! Grab your sunglasses, floppy hats and your livers and head out to a winery and spend a day being gregarious while sipping on juice.
Now are you feeling adventurous to get out and explore Texas wineries? Check out this website to find all of the deliciousness that Texas has to offer.
Do you know some wineries I didn’t mention that you like? Let me know! I’d love to try them out 🙂
*Please remember to drink responsibly. Schedule an Uber or procure a designated driver ’cause accidents can be prevented. Know your limits. Drink water.
*If you like wine, you should go to the country where it’s consumed more than water! Plan your trip to Italy with the help of my article “La Vita È Bella“*