Friday, March 18, 2005

Saturday 3-12-05 Texas Sideways

On a beautiful 70 degree Saturday morning , we decided to have our own "Sideways" adventure and loaded the dogs in the car, opened the sun-roof and windows, and had Bob Seager's greatest hits jamming from the CD. Initially, it was a 4-5 minute battle of wits (or wills) between Allegra and Dara as to who was going to ride shotgun, but Dara eventually convinced Allegra, that it was in her best interest to get in the back seat.

We headed NW into the lakes region, instead of our usual tour through the Hill Country. Our first stop was about 1 1/2 hours later at Lost Creek winery, which we had visited a couple of years ago. It was interesting to see the improvements in only 2 years. We even purchased 2 whites (a Pinot Grigio and a Chardonnay) after sampling 9 of their wines. I was amazed by the Chardonnay. Neither of us typically drink Chard's, much less purchase them. My opinion is that I can typically whiz a tastier drink than a Chard and that the only purpose a Chard serves is to allow college sorority girls and metrosexuals to pretend to be sophisticated, without actually having to taste the grapes. Basically, the wine world's version of bud or coors light beer.

One funny event occurred at our first stop. The lady who owns the winery with her husband invited us to let Dante and Allegra out to play with her Doberman. That alone made me nervous, but she persuaded us that Trooper was socialized and sure enough the dogs had a blast running with Trooper on the 80 acres. Dante and Trooper got into a marking contest. Dante would mark a spot, then Trooper would cover it, then Dante cover it and back and forth. Dante was good for about 4-5 attempts, but Trooper could always manage 1 more. Dara and I sat on the stone patio sampling wines and heckling while this show went on for about 30 minutes and covered 6-7 locations. How Dante at only 40 lbs can hold that much urine is a medical mystery, but at least I wasn't concerned about him having an accident in the car later that day, or for the next couple of weeks for that matter. After that much playing and exertion, Dante and Allegra decided to go for a swim in the creek/ponds that runs through the winery, so we had the pleasure of enjoying the bouqet of "wet dog" the remainder of the morning in the car.

Next we went for the first time to a relatively new winery called Lost Creek, which has gorgeous facilities. We picked up a red blended wine that we liked after sampling about 8 wines. They had an amazing full-length carved bar originally from an 1880's Kansas cow town saloon.

Next we drove another hour into Llano (smaller than Chillicothe) to eat at Coopers BBQ. It is consistently rated as one of the top 10 best BBQ's in the US, as well as one of the best in Texas (which may be synonymous anyway) and we wanted to experience why. We arrived at about 1:30 and the line to get in was down to only about 40 yards long. Luckily, we waited and were more than rewarded. When you get to the end of the line, you enter the smoke pits. The Pit Master opens one of the smokers and you literally look in and pick which meat(s) you want and he slices off roughly however much you ask for and loads it onto a tray. Dara and I split a huge smoked pork chop (The best I have ever had), a big slice of brisket, and a big slice of prime rib, all of which were first dipped into an Au jous sauce. Inside, the meat is weighed (almost 3 lbs, if you are curious) and you pay by the pound. We added some fantastic potato salad, adult beverages and settled in to the rows of community style picnic tables with 60-70 other gluttons for our feast. Bikers, fully decked out in their colors, were seated literally next to blue haired grandmas and bankers just getting off their Saturday morning duties. Maybe all the Middle East needs is a Coopers and everyone would get along. Once back on the road, we pulled off at the first scenic stop and fed Dante and Allegra what was left of the Prime Rib. I am just glad that our dogs are not spoiled.

Next we headed South to McReynolds winery and sampled another 6 wines there. We purchased a very nice Cabernet there. It was pure "Keep Austin Weird" tasting environment, with the girl behind the counter, complete with dreadlocks, handing out wine samples, while drinking a Tecate beer.

Our final stop was at Driftwood Winery. We sampled another 6 wines there and all were undrinkable. The tasting room has one of the most impressive views I have seen in Texas. It is high up and overlooks a valley, with 20 acres of vines down below. The owners appear to have gotten into the business for all the wrong reasons. They inherited the property from their parents and decided to plant grapes after several other agricultural endeavors didn't pan out. The owner has been quoted in articles and in one of the Texas wine books that if he had known how much work a winery was, he never would have planted grapes. It takes passion to make wine and the quality of their wine speaks to that lack of passion. The wife decided to turn their parents house into a bed and breakfast, but quit after she discovered that she would have to clean, do laundry and make beds after guests left each day.

We didn't drink from any spit buckets or sample any classic Pinot Noir's and did sample several Merlots. However, we still managed to have an outstanding day anyway and were able to recharge, which we both desparately needed. Texas has about 60 wineries and we are now almost half way through the list.

We got back into Austin about 6:30 and had a movie night at the house later that evening.



dquack said...

Bob Seager my foot! We headed down the highway with the original cast album of Wicked blaring on the stereo. For those who don't know what Wicked is, it's a Broadway musical about the wicked witch of the west, and Glenda, when they were growing up in Oz.


dquack said...

I do not know how I could have forgotten something so painful. It is probably comparable to people who experience a tramatic event and repress the memory.

You are right, that lasted about 5 minutes, until we hit 35 and I had had my quota of show tunes for the week/month/year.

Anyway, I made an effort and listened to show tunes as long as possible in my quest to become a sensitive, communicative, chard drinking metrosexual and...........Damn, it is time for the Man Show and I can't miss "Girls on Trampolines". Got to go.