Saturday, July 5, 2014

A little wining...Texas vs. Virginia wineries.....

“I am not sure I trust you."
"You can trust me with your life, My King."
"But not with my wine, obviously. Give it back.” 
― Megan Whalen Turner, The King of Attolia

And so, we made it back from Nationals.  After my escapade on the escalator Friday morning, I have been living on Ibuprofen and Arnica gel.  My knee is still pretty shades of black, blue, and yellow, and what's really funny is the bruised stripes on the rest of that leg from those little spiky points on the escalator steps.  Made it through the square dancing competition alright, though.  It was a lot of fun, and not exactly what I was expecting.  Because we were a patched together square, we didn't get a lot of choice in who else was in it, and we ended up with a couple (or at least the lady) who didn't seem to have ever done DBD (dance by definition, or all positions dancing), which was definitely what the competition called for.  It was all mainstream (the easier ones) calls, but called from weird formations, or in a weird order, etc.  Here's a video of it, but my square was long since out by that point.  You can also see a video of my mom and I dancing together here to Paul Cote of Houston, TX.  We're in the square to the left of the caller, facing the camera, whenever the camera is on the caller.  It was a lot of fun.  Makes me look forward to National Singles Convention even more in August.  

The drive back to Texas was mostly uneventful.  We stopped at the rest area at the Texas/Arkansas border, and switched drivers, so that I could get some "work" done.  Work for me at the moment consists of sorting through photos (under 1000 left at the moment, over 1000 already posted at Picasa) and working on calling, either playing with singing calls, or working on "patter".  Don't be jealous.  It's a tough life.  :-)  However, after about half an hour, I realized I was tired, so put the computer down and went to sleep.  When I woke up, it was approximately 2 hours later.  We had not yet stopped for gas.  I looked over at the gas gauge.  It was blinking empty.  "How long has it been doing that?"  "I don't know, I didn't realize it was."  We had just passed a city, and my mom offered to turn around, but I figured we'd come up on something else soon, so on we went.  We could see the next gas station, at the top of a hill, when the whole dashboard lights up, which is my car's signal that it's out of gas.  My mom immediately starts slowing down and pulling over.  "Don't stop now!  We'll never get going again!"  So, we babied the little Prius (yes, Prius' have to eat, too!) up the hill to the gas station.  The last 100 feet or so, we were coasting, and just at the gas station entrance, she finally died.  Which wouldn't be that big of a deal, but we were on a hill.  So, I got out and pushed.  Which would normally have not been that big of a deal, but remember that escalator accident?  Sore.....all.....over.....We did manage to push it into the gas station, though, after my mom helped push while directing, and a gentleman came over at the end to help.  She was much happier after we filled her up, and we made it the rest of the way uneventfully.

Speaking of calling, even though I hate being in Texas, this has been the best place, both to work on my calling, and to get inspiration.  The callers at the Texas State Convention were great, and, of course, you can't beat the caliber at Nationals.  This helped re-inspire me to start really working on my calling again.  And, Texas callers?  Very helpful, very encouraging, very willing to give you calling time.  Even though I'm not a member of their clubs.  And, I won't be here long term.  So, I did some singing calls when here previously, and am trying to work in some more before I leave.  I got to do 2 singing calls, and got some help with some patter at a dance on Tuesday night.  I'm very grateful for the opportunities I have been given here.

When we stopped at the rest area on the way back to my mom's house, I picked up some fliers on things to do before I leave Texas.  One that surprised me, stated that Fredericksburg area/290 corridor was the #2 winery area in the US.  Now, I had a hard time believing this, so I had to see it for myself.  After further research, just fyi, it is just the #2 LARGEST wine country in the US.  Which makes sense, because everything is bigger in Texas.  The only place I saw it even listed in a top 10, it was #8.  I somewhat randomly chose 3 wineries.  One, I picked for sweetness, one for good reviews on TripAdvisor, and another was just random.  I only chose 3 since I was driving, and have a low alcohol tolerance.  :-)  First off, in relation to VA wineries, Texas wineries are MUCH more expensive.  I didn't go to one (or even see one listed) that was under $10 for a wine tasting, and one didn't even include the glass for that price.  In VA, many tastings are under $10, and some are even free.  Most don't charge for the tasting if you buy a bottle, and these ones all did.  Though, one did not charge if you bought 3 bottles.  Also, as I found in CA, there are many more reds than whites, and a lot of the wineries had the same types of wines, where in VA, there is a greater variety in tastes and types.  Some fruitier than others, some meads, etc.  The good thing about the TX hill country wineries, are that many of them are on 290, and you can just drive down the road and go to a variety of wineries, without having to go too far. There were also a lot of little, locally owned shops and farmers markets on the road as well, which was nice.

The first winery I stopped at was Becker Vineyards.  It was not the best experience.  There were not enough servers, or at least ones that worked fast enough, for the number of people there.  I was ignored on several occasions during the tasting.  Mostly reds, not many whites.  The most frustrating thing was the lack of description of the wines on the tasting list.  And, the servers were not much help with this.  It was $10/6, but they weren't that strict on that, and I probably tried 7-8.  I wouldn't have minded trying only 6 if there had been descriptions, and I had known which ones I WANTED to try.  And their sweets?  Not really sweet.  Oh, well, but it was not a good start to my Texas wining experience, and I was a little concerned. 

The second winery, though....made up for everything.  This was Fiesta Winery, and there was a sweet young lady doing the tastings by herself, but she easily ran it.  The list had the descriptions, but she also helped make sure you got the tastings you wanted.  This was $10/5, though I ended up trying 6, but they had many whites, and probably half of their wines were sweet wines.  They do sell theirs in local grocery stores as well, so check for the Fiesta Winery label.  Really good wines, really sweet wines, well run.  I loved it.

The last one was Dry Comal Winery, which was a little ways down the road, and off the 290 corridor.  Again, they had more reds than whites, but their sparkling wines were amazing.  And they had the world's best sangria.  Literally.  It was the best thing I'd had all day.  The other surprise there was that they had a red and a white port.  And I actually preferred the red, but was just surprised, as I'd never even seen a white port.

And that was my experience with Texas wineries.  The way back, I hit Austin traffic during rush hour, and then construction traffic in Temple, so took the back roads, but made it back safely, even during a massive thunderstorm, so no complaints.  :-)  Tomorrow, we're off garage saleing, then Wed, I leave for Alaska, then headed out again.  

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