Anybody who's gone on a tour of Texas wineries knows that they range from the very upscale (Hill Country sandstone, high-end chandeliers, nice enough for a wedding) to small, spooky and cobbled together with a mishmash of construction materials. There was one visit to a small grower (who shall remain unnamed), far from the beaten path, where we were led inside a dark warren of back rooms, crowded with dust and taxidermy, and we just knew we weren't going to make it out alive.
What these wineries all have in common, however, is that they're run by small business owners trying to make a living in our great state. Restaurateur Seth Sanders, who owns Puffabellys in Old Town Spring, noticed the increase of small Texas wineries about 15 years ago, and recognized kindred spirits. “Great group of folks. [I thought], what better thing to promote than Texas and Texas wine?” Sanders, who is big on Texas beer and wine at his own restaurant and who has been involved with wine events for quite a while, says that this will be the sixth year for the Texas Wine and Art Festival.
He's also strict about who gets in. “If the winery representative or the owner cannot be there, then I don't let you come in,” says Sanders. “In a lot of cases, the winery owners will show up and they'll be there, discussing their wines and why they're so good. I want the consumer to pick the brain of the winery owner or rep. That's what makes the event unique.”
Participating wineries include Bernhardt Winery (Plantersville), Braman Winery (Richmond), Calais Winery (Dallas), Clear Creek Vineyard (Kemah), Dionisio Winery (Houston), Fiesta Winery (Lometa), Griffin Meadery (Willis), Los Pinos Ranch Vineyards (Pittsburg), Maydelle Country Wines (Rusk), Perrine Winery (College Station), Pleasant Hill Winery (Brenham), Red 55 Winery (Lindale), Red Road Vineyard (Naples) and South Texas Wind Vineyard & Winery (Refugio).
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The festival is free to get in, and minors are allowed, though the wine tastings are 21 and up (and yes, they do card). In addition to the wine, they sell a couple of craft beers, all kinds of festival foods, plus goat cheeses, olive oil and other types of snacks. The other big draw for this event is the art.
“You know, art and wine just kind of go together,” says Sanders. He says they've been pretty firm over the years, limiting art entries to original paintings, pottery, jewelry and photography, but this year they've expanded the event to include iron works and other handcrafted pieces. “Out of our 40-50 vendors, about 20 of them will be true artists. Local artists. It's very local, we support that, and the artists are phenomenal. It's amazing how much talent is out there.” He says prices range from very affordable to as much as $500 or $1,000.
Sanders says the event is kid- and dog-friendly, and the overall goal is to support Old Town Spring. “Come down, drink some wine, eat in one of the restaurants, browse in our shops,” says Sanders. Wine tastings are $20 in advance, $30 at the gate, and include a commemorative wine glass and seven one-ounce tastings.
Texas Wine and Art Festival is Saturday, April 9, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday, April 10, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., 427 Gentry, Old Town Spring, mainstreetfestivals.com/texas-wine-and-art-festival. Free.