Let's Talk over Drinks
The Texas Hill Country, prized for its picturesque panoramas, neighborly residents, and pesky armadillos, is also home to a surprising number of acres of lush grapevines and dozens of award winning wineries. Once tentatively budding, the Texas wine industry is now booming with voracity as several new tasting rooms going up from Dripping Springs to Fredericksburg. The accolades are promising with headlines in national publications such as:
“The Texas Hill Country is the New Napa.”
“The Hill Country is the hottest new wine vacation spot.”
While definitely as beautiful as Napa, we think that the Hill Country’s Texas charm and wild rusticity sets it apart from other wine regions. One thing’s for sure: it is a perfect vacation spot for wine and food lovers. Here is a handy summer travel guide that will take you to some of the best establishments that the region has to offer.
If you are coming from Austin, the scenic drive on Highway 290 is a must. First, you’ll reach Dripping Springs, known as the “Gateway to the Hill Country.” There, grab a breakfast pastry or light lunch at Rolling in Time and Dough, a charming little local restaurant that doubles as a bakery. Buttery, flaky croissants, moist muffins, and made-from-scratch sandwiches are just some of the many items that await you there, ready to prep you for a day of wine tasting.
Once you hit Dripping Springs, consider taking one of your first detours south, to Driftwood, TX. We highly recommend visiting a fellow member of the Texas Fine Wine Group, Duchman Family Winery. They specialize in wines crafted from Italian grape varieties sourced from the Texas High Plains (try their Aglianico and Vermentino!). The exquisite, Italian-inspired tasting room, incredible views, and premier wines are just a few of the countless reasons to stop by for a tasting. Hungry again? Stop by Trattoria Lisina, a spacious Italian restaurant that’s a mere walk from Duchman and keep soaking in the Italian vibes. If you have a craving for world-class barbeque, check out Salt Lick and pick up a bottle of their BBQ Red (yes, they make wine, too!) to pair perfectly with your tender brisket.
Well-fed and ready to resume your travels west, it’s time to head back up to Hwy 290. Johnson City is your next must-see stop. Say hello to Jasmine at Stidham Leather Outfitters and pick up a handmade leather belt made by her fiancé, Seth (don’t forget to pet their shop dog, Pearl). While in town, you may as well grab a flight of Texas wines at the 290 Vinery, a family-owned artists’ gallery that also doubles as a tasting room. Allison and her family have done a great job sourcing Texan wines that are not too local as to avoid redundancies in tasting. If traveling has you hungry once more, Bryan’s on 290 is known far and wide for its unforgettable fare. Check out its surprisingly international wine list, one that still manages to pay a respectful homage to the best local wines.
Continue west past Johnson City and you’ll come to Stonewall, TX, home to Pedernales Cellars! A family-owned winery, we pride ourselves on our hospitality, award-winning wines, and stunning views. If you’re visiting on a weekend, you’ll be treated to local live music by one of our rotating artists (check our Calendar page here for more information).
You might want to spend the rest of the day with us. However, if your travels take you further west to Fredericksburg, TX, make sure to stop at 4.0 Cellars tasting room where you can sample wines from another Texas Fine Wines member, Brennan Vineyards. In addition, wines from Lost Oak Winery and McPherson Cellars are poured here. Ask for Carl Hudson to lead you through a tasting.
We are pleased to be one of the pioneers in this region and strive daily to raise the reputation of not just our winery, but the region as a whole. We know that if we exude quality and promote our neighbors, we will all experience the benefits of growth. Go, Texas!
The Art of the Stay-at-Home Date Night
We all suffer from time traps that can suck the romance out of a relationship. Deadlines, hectic work schedules, and house chores, sometimes make connecting with your partner may seem like a luxury. We feel ya. Fortunately, we are in the business of creating one of the best ingredients for date night — wine!
There is no need to add the extra complications of getting ready to go out on a date to have a romantic evening. Arrange a Stay-at-Home Date Night instead. Relish each other’s company (and your comfortable home), by creating a dreamy oasis in your kitchen. Pop a great bottle of wine and be adventurous. Do something you haven’t done before: make sushi.
This Japanese art may seem daunting at first, but you only need a few simple ingredients, including a sushi roller and dried seaweed sheets (both of which you can purchase at most grocery stores). Here is your recipe to hold hands, sip a glass of wine, and be present with your significant other.
First, you’ll make the rice:
Ingredients (will make 9 rolls)
3 cups of sushi rice
3.5 cups of water
0.5 cup of rice vinegar
2 Tablespoon white sugar
2 Teaspoon fine salt
For the seasoning, heat rice vinegar with sugar and salt in a stove pot or microwave. Mix until fully dissolved.
Cook 3 cups of sushi rice with 3.5 cups of water in a thick bottom pot (or rice cooker).
Once ready, transfer rice to wooden or plastic container. Do not cover.
Pour seasoning evenly over rice and mix with wooden spoon in a cutting motion.
Let rice cool down to room temperature by the window or using a fan, but never in the refrigerator.
This site will give you infographic instruction on how to roll and what to put inside your rolls: http://dish.allrecipes.com/how-to-make-sushi-rolls/
Tips for Buying Quality Fish for Sushi
- Shop at a reputable market.
- High quality grocery chains like Central Market and Whole Foods have strong quality control.
- Local seafood shops like Quality Seafood in Austin, Groomer’s Seafood in San Antonio, and Wahoo's Seafood Co. in Kerrville are good bets.
- Choose previously frozen fish. Freezing fish kills any potential parasites.
- Keep your fish cold. After buying the fish, make sure it stays well refrigerated until you serve it to ensure its safety.
- Check out that body. When buying whole fish, inspect the eyes to make sure they are nice and clear. Open the gills and look for bright red gills and avoid pale pink gills. Assess the texture buy holding it up to make sure it isn’t too rigid.
The Wine Pairing
Of course, you’ll need a wine pairing to complete the evening, and we say: choose Texas! Our 2016 Albariño is a perfect accompaniment to sushi. Albariño (alba-reen-yo) is known as the seafood lovers’ wine. It’s a light-bodied white wine with origins in coastal Spain and Portugal. It’s great with fish – and particularly sushi – because it has perky citrus flavors with high acidity.
This wine is crisp, yet brief barrel aging imparts a roundness and complexity. With notes of citrus zest, fresh green apple, and juicy mango, the Albariño will shine with this fresh dish, especially if you decide to add more crisp elements like sliced fruit or cucumber.
With the right recipe for a stay at home date, we hope that you relish your relationship over a glass of wine and a fun new activity. Like wine, your love should be a cause for celebration no matter the location.
Rosé wine has become incredibly popular go-to drink in warm weather. Prized for its vibrancy and fresh red fruit profile, rosé is refreshing, easy to drink, and easy to pair. Just as it has become acceptable to wear white before Memorial Day, it is totally appropriate to drink rosé before the long weekend. All the same, we can consider Memorial Day Weekend as the unofficial start to Rosé Season.
Time to change that popular hashtag #RoséAllDay into # RoséAllMemorialDay!
Unlike many wines of this style, ours is made from grapes grown specifically for rosé in both the High Plains and Hill Country. We are delighted to mention that that some of the grapes in this blend came from the first harvest of our newest block of Mourvèdre at the Kuhlken Estate Vineyard. This Kuhlken lot was meticulously hand-sorted in the vineyard and on the crush pad, where we did a gentle, whole-cluster press of the fruit. Using this direct press, or maceration, method, the red grapes are crushed, extracting a touch of color from the grape skins which gives the wine its beautiful pink color. We fermented the juice at low temperatures in stainless steel to retain its natural vivacious acidity and fruity flavors.Our 2017 Texas Dry Rosé, a Rhône-style blend of Carignan and Mourvèdre grapes, is available currently and is a delightful wine to open and celebrate the long weekend. Like similar Rhône Valley Mourvèdre rosés, our rosé is the perfect balance of floral characters, fresh fruit flavors, and subtle dried herbal notes. It is rounder and fuller-bodied than a rosé made with a lighter-skinned grape (like Sangiovese). The 2017 bursts with bright, fruity aromas of candied watermelon, guava, red delicious apples, and strawberries. It is a luscious wine; juicy cherry and strawberry flavors carry through with a crisp finish.
The 2017 growing season was idyllic, with plenty of hot days and cool nights that allowed for a long growing season, allowing us to harvest ripe fruit. Hence, we were able to craft a rosé wine with such vibrant flavors and a rich, dark pink color. While we usually drink rosé wines young, the 2017 Texas Dry Rosé has the heft to last in your cellar for another year at least.
Memorial Day Weekend Pairings
Rosé is a fantastic light, refreshing style of wine tailor-made for a lazy Memorial Day brunch or picnic on the lake. Our 2017 vintage artfully marries the brightness of a white wine with the fuller body and lusher fruit flavors of red wine. We love it for its versatility: while it pairs famously with delicate fish, its acidity and juicy fruit also make it a surprisingly great wine to drink with Texas BBQ. It has just enough minerality to pair well with the saltiness of a dry rub.
On hot days, it is tempting to serve rosé wine as cold as possible. However, to bring out the complex fruit flavor, we recommend pouring it at a slightly warmer temperature than white wine — at about 50°F. Go ahead; pop your Pedernales Texas Dry Rosé in fridge for about an hour and a half before you open it.
No matter what you pair with our 2017 Texas Dry Rosé this Memorial Day Weekend, make sure you grab enough bottles to keep your party as vibrant as the wine that's served.
The Perfect Wine for a Spring Picnic
Could there be anything more wonderful than spring weather in Texas? A cardinal’s chirping begs us to go outside, spread a blanket, and bask in the warm sun and gentle breezes. What better way to enjoy the glorious season than with a picnic among the wildflowers with a delicious bottle of wine?
Just in time for spring picnics, we are releasing our 2016 Viognier Reserve. This is the fifth vintage for this highly acclaimed wine that won Gold in Lyon in 2012, and it is every bit as good as its medal-winning predecessors. In fact, this vintage won a Gold Medal at the San Francisco International Wine Competition.
Our 2016 Viognier Reserve is a blend of finished wines made from grapes grown in the Reddy and Bingham vineyards in the High Plains Appellation. Our winemakers expertly coaxed the best characteristics from the fruit grown in both vineyards. The Bingham Vineyards wine is lighter, more crisp and fresh, while Reddy Vineyard Viognier brings grilled pineapple and caramel flavors.
The results are absolutely delightful. The 2016 Viognier Reserve has complex aromas with layers of fresh citrus and honeysuckle with hints of guava, pineapple, ripe peach and toasted hazelnuts. True to its varietal, this is no wimpy wine. It’s a lush, smooth, and full-bodied Viognier with sweet honeyed pineapple notes.
This is a perfect picnic wine with complexity but drinkability. The rich flavors and bright acidity let it pair well with a wide variety of traditional picnic foods. We especially love it with fried chicken or a Cuban sandwich! Its opulent fruit flavors and full body also allow it to stand up well to spicy foods, and its zippy tartness makes it a fantastic match for the fattier foods. Here are a couple recipes for you to enjoy al fresco with our 2016 Viognier Reserve.
Spicy Fried Chicken
8 to 10 bone-in, skinless chicken thighs and drumsticks
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
Canola oil, as needed
Buttermilk, as needed
All-purpose flour, as needed
Combine the spices in small bowl. Coat each chicken piece liberally with spice rub. Transfer to large Ziploc bag. Place in the refrigerator and let marinate for at least 24 hours.
Fill a cast iron pan halfway with canola oil, and warm over medium-high heat. Add buttermilk to a large bowl. Add flour to a second large bowl. Dip each piece of spice-rubbed chicken into flour, then buttermilk and back into the flour. Place in the warmed oil. Cook the chicken until golden brown on each side, turning occasionally for about 10 to 12 minutes until they register 180° on a meat thermometer. Sprinkle with salt and drain on a paper towel-lined plate.
1 loaf Cuban bread, sliced lengthwise
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons yellow mustard, or to taste
1 1/2 pounds boiled ham, sliced
1 1/2 pounds roasted pork, sliced
1 pound Swiss cheese, sliced
1 cup dill pickle slices
Spread 2 tablespoons of butter on one half of the bread loaf and a thin layer of mustard on the other. Place 1 to 2 layers of ham, pork, cheese, and pickles on the buttered bread and top with the mustard-spread bread.
Smear the remaining butter all over the outside of the sandwich and wrap it completely in aluminum foil.
Heat your grill to high (550°F) and close the lid. Wait at least 15 minutes before lowering the heat to medium-high (450°F) and continuing.
Before grilling the sandwich, press down on it with your hands to flatten it. Place the wrapped, flattened sandwich on the grill and top with a brick, grill press, or any other heavy, heat-resistant object. Close the lid and grill for 5 to 6 minutes per side.
Remove the wrapped sandwich from the grill and take off the foil. Return the sandwich to the grill and grill for about 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until both pieces of bread are crispy and golden brown. Wrap them in foil again to transport them to your picnic paradise.
Slice, serve, sip and savor.
Texas wine lovers should be looking forward to the release of 2017 vintage wines, because of the excellent harvest. Read more about the harvest here, and look for 2017 white wines startingat the beginning of the new year.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, I think anything you can do to support the state, its workers and its economy would be much appreciated, and one of the smallest and easiest gestures would be to forego whatever other bottle of wine you were about to buy and pick up one from Texas. You might feel good about doing it, and more likely than not, you will be surprised by how good it tastes.
Much of the state’s best fruit was picked just before the storm arrived, and winemakers have already been wowed by its quality. Julie Kuhlken, owner of Pedernales Cellars, one of the state’s most decorated wineries, said, “This is probably the best (and certainly is the biggest) grape harvest that the Texas wine industry has ever seen, and not even Hurricane Harvey could ruin it.” Pedernales paid to send an employee to Houston with her boat to aid in rescue operations, and gave her money to assist Hurricane victims. Winemaker Dave Reilly of Duchman Family Winery, another top tier producer, agreed: “Our Hill Country fruit - particularly from Salt Lick Vineyards - has been the best ever. We are just starting to get High Plains fruit and it is looking to be on par with the Hill Country. Below average temperatures this time of year have contributed to the excellent quality.” During Labor Day weekend, Duchman Family Winery accepted donations of goods at its Wine Club party and donated $5 from each bottle or growler of rose sold to the JJ Watt Fund. Read more....
Not since the Pedernales Cellars 2012 Tempranillo Reserve has the family winemaking team won a Double Gold, so there was much celebrating when the Armadillo's Leap BFF Blend won Double Gold at this summer's competition. The BFF Blend is a blend of Montepulciano, Tempranillo, and Aglianico, and is available for sale in the Armadillo's Leap tasting room in Frederickburg.
In its Summer edition of the Top Texas Wines, Texas Monthly includes Pedernales Cellars Texas GSM. Read what TM has to say about the GSM and other great wines from around the state.
This year's vintage of the Texas Dry Rose is a wonderful blend of Mourvedre, Grenache and Syrah. Please look for it in the tasting room or here. Texas Wine and Trail has named it the Texas Wine of the Month for June.