As summer begins to slow down and it sinks in that perhaps your dream getaway to Napa Valley or Tuscany might have to be put on hold a while longer, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a weekend wine getaway in your own backyard, fellow Texans.
Whether you consider yourself a wine connoisseur or social sipper, nestled in the hills of Central Texas there is a plethora of untapped hidden gems of wineries and more that are well worth the drive.
While wine is often associated with leisure and ease it still can be an intimidating affair to surround yourself with. When it comes to wines, for a bourbon drinker like myself, I still have an abundance to learn. So, I admit, I was a little nervous on what exactly to expect at the recent inaugural Vinovium’s Red, Wine and Blue festival. However, in true Texas fashion, this was the perfect setting for anyone looking to enjoy a little getaway (family- and pet-friendly, by the way) at a one-of-a-kind summer event attended by several hundred wine lovers in the heart of Texas’ best food and wine region.
The aroma of BBQ, the sounds of live music, the friendly conversations and the beautiful vineyards atop the hills in Johnson City were the perfect backdrop—even in the bewildering Texas summer heat—to experience 20 of Texas’ best wineries pouring over 60 wines for enthusiasts to enjoy in a casual but still intimate setting.
For those looking to beat this Texas heat and feel like you are floating down the Guadalupe, you have to try Lewis Wines’ Swimspot. It hits the spot in all the right ways. Not only is it refreshing but this light and crisp white is like summer nectur you just won’t want to put down. It is crafted from 100 % Texan blanc du bois and chenin blanc grapes. They live up to their mantra “Real. Texas. Wine.” in every sense of the word.
For those who love a bolder and grander libation, then let me recommend a fiery red from 290 Vinery. When I made the rounds and stopped to chat with the gentlemen of 290, I envisioned a red that I could pair with a post-dinner cigar. For those looking to pour the perfect pairing to a steak dinner or BBQ then you should look no further than their Seriously Red or Res Tempranillo selections.
As I said, I am by no means an expert in the world of wine but do enjoy the passion and the art behind it, and yearn to learn more. What better way to do so right in my backyard at a place like Vinovium?
One of the biggest takeaways from this event was the story behind it. I had a quick moment to catch up with Vinovium Partners’ founding partner and Executive Sommelier Daniel Kelada on just what sets the Red, Wine and Blue festival apart from other emerging wine festivals.
Kelada explained that the whole point is to give back in a way that supports the future of the Texas wine industry. “Raising $3,500 for a scholarship that will go towards young Texas grape growers and winemakers in our first year is a huge first step,” he said. “Yes, we want to provide exposure to the wineries that participate, and we want those wineries to make sales while participating, but those things are all byproducts of producing an engaging and exciting event that people want to attend that stands out from the crowd.”
The “aftertaste,” as they say in the wine world of Red, Wine and Blue, and what’s to come is slowly proving to be a lingering experience with an exuberant palette that is fresh, lively and not-to-be-missed.
Even if you did miss out on the festival, there are still plenty of exciting events hosted by Vinovium Partners year-round from stand-up comedy to steak dinners and wine education offerings. I have to say I am eager to try out their selections of wines on tap next go around. If you are looking for a day trip or a weekend escape then put the top down and head on up to the Hill Country for a unique wine experience Texas-style.
Cover photo by Miguel Lecuona
San Antonio-based Lee Ann Herring-Olvedo is a veteran SEC sports journalist and lifestyle columnist. A Brown University graduate, she loves good cigars, good games and a smooth glass of bourbon — not necessarily in that order. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @Misskyus2011