casa del vino

Where wine is on the table everyday

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Day 274 – Who Would Have Thunk It!

HIlmy-Cellars-What do you do on a Saturday afternoon when your youngest daughter is on her way back to school and the oldest is out of town?  Hmm…we still have the ‘dogs’ to worry about, but give them some outdoor time and put them in their crates and they’re happy as clams!  For us, it meant connecting with P&L and meeting in Stonewall to ‘sample’ some Texas wines.  Now, please don’t misunderstand us, we still haven’t succumbed to Texas wines as a way of life, but the more we sample them, the closer we get to enjoying them.  With a beautiful – almost summer – day on tap, we pulled the top off of the Jeep and hit the road for a little afternoon wine tasting. . .and, in spite of the increasing temperatures, we managed to get to our destination – Messina Hof Winery – without much trouble!  Thanks to a terrific tasting experience with Lisa, we decided to sit outside and snack on some really good hummus and other goodies from the food trailer parked on the grounds. . .the wine tasting there led us to a relatively new entry in the Highway 290 Wine Road–Hilmy Cellars in Stonewall.

In fairness, we’d read about Hilmy in the current edition of Edible Austin magazine that Jean brought home yesterday.  From what we read, Hilmy was the stuff dreams are made about. . .boy makes wine; boy meets girl; girl likes boy and vice versa; boy and girl get married; boy gets a hankering to make wine. . .the rest—as they say is history.  As we read the article about Erik and Neldie. . .we couldn’t help but do a little fist pumping. . .who doesn’t want someone to be successful starting from scratch?  They’re doing it right there in Stonewall!!  Thanks to tasting room help from Josh and Stevie, we graduated to the patio with a bottle of 2011 Doo-Zwa-Zo–a very nice Viognier & Chenin Blanc Blend from the Texas High Plains, and the perfect afternoon patio wine!  After a visit from the rooster in charge–                                                                                            Ruby–Ruby. . .we decided that a second bottle was in order…  What a delicious white wine.

For those who have laughed because we’ve been overly careful about red wines while leaving out some really good white wines, today, we redeem ourselves!  Our 2011 Doo-Zwa-Zo is fruity, crisp, refreshing, clean and best of all ready to drink right now.  Unlike a lot of red wines, this one comes ready to enjoy and enjoy we did!  Apricots, Peaches, Lavender, Honey and a little limestone all come together with this wine.  It’s no small task to marry two white varietals and make the end result stand out but Erik Hilmy makes the impossible seem probable with this bottle of wine.  We aren’t exactly sure where the name comes from but when you sit out on the back patio and feel the wind blowing, who cares!  It’s a white wine that you’ll want to add to your list.  We decided that it would be just as good by itself on the deck or with a steak or rack of ribs. . .it’s that good!  As for Hilmy Cellars, you can read more about them–as we mentioned–in the newest copy of Edible Austin.  Erik & Neldie are carving names for themselves in the Hill Country and you’ll want to jump on the band wagon.  By the way, when you go and visit them, Ruby probably WON’T let you pet him, BUT if you see a really BIG white dog–his name is Simon and he does a GREAT job of keeping the deer away from the vineyards, but he’s also a great dog for petting. . .(Hint: if you scratch behind his ear. . .he’ll be your best friend 😉 )

As we drove home from Johnson City, the stars in the sky were amazingly bright; the breeze was warm and refreshing and the day was one to remember.  It’s never fun putting your child on a plane back to school, back to ‘home’ or whatever, so the opportunity to visit with P&L took a slice out of our thinking about it.  It’s not always easy watching your child drive to another city to visit her friends and wondering if she’s going to be alright, so the opportunity to try some new Texas wines helped take a slice out of thinking about it.  As Saturday gives way to Sunday, please enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible!


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Day 142: ‘Win One for the Gipper’. . .

saddlehorn barn redIn our part of the world, today was a beautiful Sunday with sunny skies and warm temperatures.  It was the kind of Sunday where after Church  you pack the Jeep and head out on a road trip.  With a rough idea of where we wanted to go, we set out around 10 this morning, and after driving through Martindale, we turned on Hwy. 142 with Smithville as our intended destination . . . Smithville, Texas was where the Sandra Bullock movie, Hope Floats was filmed.  As we made our way towards our destination, we turned on to Farm Road 535 and found ourselves going past the Rockne Museum in Rockne!  Whoa, is that a bust of Knute Rockne?  We turned the Jeep around and pulled into the museum parking lot and lo and behold, it was!  So, we then asked ourselves, was Knute Rockne from Texas?  We sure didn’t think he was, and a little research confirmed that he was actually born in Norway and moved to Chicago when he was five years old.  Okay, so what’s the deal?

As we left the museum, we drove next door to the historical marker in front of Sacred Heart Catholic Church.   And, here’s what we found out, “Rockne has been known by several names. First called Walnut Creek because of its proximity to the stream, it was known as Lehmanville when the Lehman Post Office was established in 1900, and as Hilbigville after William Hilbig opened a store here. In 1931 the children of Sacred Heart School were given the opportunity to permanently name their town. A vote was taken, with the children electing to name the community Rockne in honor of Knute Rockne, the famous Notre Dame University football player and head coach who had died in a plane crash in 1931.”  How about that?  A Sunday drive – AND – we learned something!

After stopping and scouring Smithville for antiques (good thing we had the Jeep – all the stuff we liked wouldn’t fit in the back), we hit the road for LaGrange, and found our way to a winery just northeast of town, called Rosemary’s Vineyard & Winery where we met Emmett.  No worries, we’ll talk more about them at a later date.  Continuing on our trip we drove through Round Top – which may be the ‘Antique Capitol’ of Texas.  When we stopped at a roadside antique shop, we learned that in the Spring, there are 25 miles of antique shops, vendors, booths, tents and such but only for two weeks.  We’ll keep you posted on that!  After driving, what seemed to be forever, we stopped at the Windy Winery and sampled a little of their wine . . . and, more about them later as well.  Back on the road, and heading towards Brenham, home of Bluebell Ice Cream . . . not open, GRRRR!!  Heading back on 290 West and just outside of town is a beautiful red barn, that when you turn on the road, you can’t miss it!  Inside this former horse barn is the Saddlehorn Winery.  The tasting room is beautiful – complete with clear windows to see through to the wine making operation.

Tonight’s wine is from Saddlehorn, it’s their Barn Red.   Those who know us, know that we aren’t huge fans of Texas wines.  As a rule, they’re either too sweet, too expensive or in many cases, both.  So, we’re naturally skeptical when it comes to a blend, and Barn Red is a blend of Cabernet, Syrah and Zinfandel. The wine showcases rich berry fruit with a touch of oak.  It’s a light to medium body wine with a fresh nose of dark berries and a  hint of spice.  As wines go, it was better than some of the wines we’ve talked about in our first 140 days of the blog, but we’re not quite ready to go full boar into Texas wines.  Steve Morgan and his family are building a nice business, and as tough as the wine making business is, we like to see folks like them succeed, so here’s a shout out to Barn Red from Saddlehorn Winery!  If you’re looking for that special Texas wine with a great name and a nice blend, then this is your chance.  And, if you’re looking to make a trip to the “Bluebonnet Country” this Spring, then stop in and visit Steve.

And, if you’re lucky, you’ll drive through Rockne, Texas on the way!  More research on the plane crash that killed Rockne turned up the following, “After visiting his two sons in Kansas City , Mo. , Rockne boarded Transcontinental-Western’s Flight 599 to Los Angeles on March 31, 1931. Shortly after takeoff, one of the plane’s wings separated in flight and the aircraft plummeted into a wheat field near Bazaar, Kan. There were no survivors. Rockne was 43 years old.”  Sad passing of a notable person who left their thumbprint on the world – and can you imagine having a town that you have no connection with named after you by a group of school children – what an honor.  A great reminder that we touch lives each and every day, some we know and many we don’t.

Enjoy your favorite wine responsibly and remember to recycle whenever possible.