Rodeo Houston Wine Experience 2017

Howdy, wine friends! If you live in Houston then you already know what time it is! It’s Rodeo season! It’s been over a year since the last time I attended, but I’m back and checking out the wines of course!

So, this year, the Champion Wine Garden features more than 70 award-winning wines from the 2017 Rodeo Uncorked! International Wine Competition. There is literally something for every palate—red, white, sweet, dry, bubbly to wines made in Texas and internationally. The menu can be quite overwhelming, but there are volunteers available to help you decide. Wine is served by the glass and bottle. Prices by the glass range from $6 to $14, while prices by the bottle range from $20 to $140. I also noticed that the wine garden also sells snacks. You can purchase a cheese plate for $18 and/or charcuterie tray for $28. The Wine Garden has everything to make your wine experience complete.

During my visit, I started with a white wine and end with a red—just to make sure that I could try both. You know I’m a sucker for buttery Chardonnay and a friend of mine told me I had to try the 2015 Rombauer Vineyards because it was all that and more. The Rombauer Chardonnay did not disappoint! It was all types of buttery deliciousness! It had aromas of ripe apples, citrus, and melon. On the palate, you could definitely taste the oaked buttery flavors with a hint of creme brulee sweetness. Now a glass of this Chard ran for $14 and a bottle goes for $58. Next, I tried the 2015 Don Rodolfo Art of the Andes Pinot Noir. If I’m going to drink a red, 9 times out of 10, I’m going to choose a Pinot hands down. Now, I’m typically fond of Pinot Noirs from the Wiliamette Valley, but those were not on the menu. Instead, I opted for one from Argentina…reds tend to be very good from this region. Yup! And, I instantly fell in love with this red. It was sooooo good from the very first sip. You know I had to do my happy dance. Don Rodolfo Pinot has raspberry and cherry notes—very beautiful. On the palate you get those same cherries with hints of blueberries. I  liked it soooo much that I want to find it in real life and add it to my wine collection.

I had a good time at the Wine Garden and wished I could’ve tried more wines. There is still a week left of the Rodeo, so if you haven’t gone (and even if you’ve been several times), it won’t hurt to go back again just to try the wine. It really is a great experience!

Zest in the West Recap

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This fall, I’m racking up my frequent wine event miles. #tistheseason   Last week, I had the opportunity to attend Zest in the West at Château Crystale. Imagine being stuck in a room filled with unlimited wines AND food from some of the best restaurants in West Houston. Sounds like paradise to me! Well that’s what Zest in West is…. a wino and foodie’s dream come true!

With so many wines, it can be overwhelming trying to remember which wines you actually liked. Luckily, I have these events down to a science and have discovered a method to help me keep track of my favorites. Check out my YGOM picks below.

Ty’s Takeaways…

First up at the event was the Bubbles & Brews outdoor reception. Although, I’m not a big fan of the bubbly, I discovered some new contenders that will definitely help make sparkling wine great for me again ;)

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  • IL Ugo! – This was actually my favorite wine of the evening! It reminded me of a Sauvignon Blanc, but with a sparkling evanescence to it. IL Ugo! is an Italian semi-sparkling wine crafted with elderflower blossoms and wildflowers. This wine was a little sweet, but the elderflower gives it a bit of a funky earthy taste that balances it out. I’m a huge fan of elderflower, so it’s no wonder why I kept going back for more. Served chilled, this wine is so refreshing, especially with the weather still being on the warm side in Houston.  
  • Cava Proa – Most Cava sparkling wine is normally dry, but what I like about Proa is that it’s semi-sweet. Sadly, that’s the only way that I’ll drink sparkling wines. I enjoyed the citrus aromas and mild fruit flavors. This Cava would be great served as a mimosa!
  • Bottega Rosé Gold Prosecco – Can we just talk about the bottle first?! I heart rose gold, so that’s what initially drew me to this table :) This sparkling wine is a 100% Pinot Noir Prosecco from Lombardy in Italy. On the nose, you get beautiful floral aromas and summer berries. Once you take a sip, you get crisp flavors of strawberries and peaches. I don’t believe in seasonal wines. Just because it’s fall doesnt mean you have to stop drinking rosé! So, if rosé is your jam, keep the party going with this Bottega.

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After the Bubbles & Brew reception, we headed inside to the main event. Nearly 30 wineries were in attendance. Here are a couple that stood out to me:

  • 2014 Llano Cellar Reserve Chardonnay
    Located in Lubbuck, Texas, Llano Estacado is one of the largest premium wineries in the state. Still on my white wine kick, I opted to try their Chardonnay. Now I’m a born-again Chardonnay fan, sticking only to the extremely buttery and creamy Chards. Llano’s Chardonnay is quite opposite–light and airy and full of lush tropical aromas and flavors. Very unique, especially for a Texas Chardonnay. It’s fermented in stainless steel and then aged in neutral French Oak barrels for 105 days.
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This release is 100% Chardonnay

  • Fall Creek Vineyards
    I’m no stranger to Fall Creek Vineyards! Located in Texas Hill Country, it’s my favorite Texas winery. You can’t go wrong with any of their wines!
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Fall Creek is located right outside of Austin.

  • Chloe Wine Collection
    Based in Northern California, Chloe Wine Collection is the brain child of winemaker Georgetta Dane. Again, I tried the Chardonnay, which I absolutely loved! Chloe  Chardonnay is made from grapes grown primarily in Sonoma’s Russian River Valley. Aged in oak, this Chardonnay has clean flavors of fresh citrus, apple, pear with notes of creamy butter and a hint of vanilla.
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Super cute labels!

I had a great time at Zest in the West! I’m so excited about my new wine discoveries. And I’m so glad that you can find these brands at your local Kroger store. Be sure to check them out too and let me know what you think! Until next time…

Wine Riot New York

I’ve been traveling a lot this month. First, California, then Austin, and most recently New York this past weekend. And, all for the love of wine! Yes, I’m on a mission to travel and learn about wine from all over the world!

While in New York, I attended an event called Wine Riot at the 69th Regiment Armory in Manhattan. Wine Riot, as its name insinuates, is wine tasting on steroids. Imagine an all access pass to a room filled with hundreds of wines from across the globe.

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You don’t need a passport. Just a glass and an insane amount of tolerance to keep up with the big dogs (like me)!

Me + 250 wines = pure heaven

For $65, this is definitely an event worth attending. I had a great time! Although, the hardest part is keeping up with all the wines. Luckily, Wine Riot has an app that tracks your favorite wines and shows you where to buy them later. Below is a list of my three favorite wines from the evening.

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  • Notorious Pink Rosé
    Summer may be over, but this rosé should always be in season! The award-winning Notorious Pink is a special blush cuvée made from 100% Grenache in the south of France. With strong aromas such as citrus, floral, and red fruit, this French wine is surprisingly not dry at all. Instead you get a nice balance of fruit and acidity. Notorious Pink Rosé’s light and refreshing taste is the perfect drink for outdoor patio or rooftop drinking in the fall—especially, with the weather cooling down in most parts of the country. *sigh, any day now Houston* For my Houston wine friends, you can find Notorious Pink at HEB for $16.99. Such a great deal! Click here for an additional listing of locations.

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  • Sileni Estates Sauvignon Blanc
    Disclaimer: I’m a self-proclaimed Sauv Blanc snob! Oh, and if it’s not from Marlborough, New Zealand, nine times out of 10, it probably ain’t right…unless it’s a Mauritson Sauv, which is the exception to my little made-up rule. Anyways, I tried my share of New Zealand Sauvs at Wine Riot and Sileni Estates hands down had thee BEST Sauvignon Blancs of the evening. Yes, plural…not one, but TWO. *insert happy dance* So, let me tell you why Sileni Estates is #winning in the Sauvignon Blanc game!Sileni Estates is a family owned and operated winery in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand. Their Sauv Blanc grapes are carefully selected from vineyards in the Wairu, Waihopai and Awatere valleys of the Marlborough region. #yesplease I tried Sileni’s Reserve Sauvignon Blanc first. It’s 100% Sauvignon Blanc, with classic New Zealand tropical fruit and grassy aromas. I enjoyed every sip…so refreshing! Next, I tried the Cellars Selection. I get excited just thinking about it. The Cellars Selection is 95% Sauv Blanc and 5% Semillon (a new white varietal I discovered this spring). Again, you get the tropical fruit flavors with a nice acidic yet balanced finish. There was something about this one that made me feel all warm and tingly inside. Click here to find out where to buy because I highly recommend that you purchase a bottle ASAP!

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  • Archer Roose
    Whoever said (don’t look at me) boxed wine was trashy hasn’t tried Archer Roose. This wine housed in a box is too legit to sip!! *insert MC Hammer dance* I honestly haven’t tried many boxed wines before and if I’m really honest…I’ve tried to stay away from them because of the stigma mentioned above, but I was quite impressed with the quality of wine! I tried the Cabernet Sauvignon, Camenere, and Sauvignon Blanc. The Cab Sauv was the winner out of the three in my book. I’d gladly get a box to bring to an outdoor event or some kind of house party. The next time you’re looking for a wine-on-the-go, think inside the box and try Archer Roose. Click here to find a location near you.

I had so much fun at Wine Riot. I definitely want to go back next year, but to a different city like Chicago. If you haven’t been to a Wine Riot, definitely check it out and if you have I would love to hear your thoughts and favorite wines. Until, we sip again…

Wicked Wine Run (The Do Over)

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Earlier this month, I participated in the Wicked Wine Run at Hye Meadow Winery in Fredricksburg. For those that are not familiar with Fredricksburg, it’s the Napa (well kind off, no shade) of Texas.

As you may recall, I participated in the 1k at the Wicked Wine Run in Galveston back in April and had a horrible time. I was really displeased with the distribution of wine. It was served in little bitty communion sized cups. At $40, this so called “1k through the scenic vineyard with four tastings” was a rip-off and a waste of my time. To say I was unhappy was an understatement.

Luckily my blogger voice was heard and the event organizer reached out to apologize. Apparently, that was not the typical setup for a wine run. With that apology, I was invited to participate in another wine run in Fredricksberg to experience how a real Wicked Wine Run should go. The organizer graciously provided me with two complimentary VIP tickets for the 5K and 1K. A little hesitant I decided to make a weekender out of it since I’d never been to Fredricksburg before. Hey, everyone does deserve a second chance, right?!

Ty’s Takeaways…

The 5k

Sooooo, I was a bit ambitious in thinking I could do the 5K…lol. Mind you, I haven’t run a 5K since the 2013 Houston Turkey Trot. *insert face palm* A couple of factors hindered me from actually running. One, it was hot as hell outside! Yes, Houston is hot, but humid and strangely it doesn’t bother me as much. Austin on the other hand is dry hot and it was 90 degrees. Two, the 5K course was not made for running. It was grassy and unleveled AND had slight inclines at certain points. Between the heat and trying to hike my way through the course, I definitely wasn’t going to be running. The only thing that kept me going was the wine at the finish line. #praiseHim

They offered a red wine (2013 Dolcetto) that was described as a lightweight soft dry red and a white wine (2014 Roussane) that was described as a fruity, but fuller-bodied dry white. I opted for the white, which wasn’t that great. It was too dry and not chilled enough for my liking. After surviving the 5K, we still had the 1K to complete next.

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The 1K

The 1K was a breeze compared to the 5K…lol. Plus, there were four wine stations set up along the course.

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Walk it out!

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Views of the vineyard.

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First up: Junkyard White. Described as a delicious off-dry, fruity white.

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Thank you for having REAL cups this time! I actually got to experience the wine. Plus, the server at this station gave us a double pour. #winning

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Junkyard Red….it’s their #1 seller and I see why! It was the best out of the four. Lots of dark fruit flavors with a smooth finish.

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Sundown, a gently sweet, easy to drink blush. I didn’t care for this wine too much. It tasted like medicine.

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Edelzwicker, the winery’s best-selling sweet wine. Too sweet for my liking.

Good times all around! I’m very appreciative that the organizers behind the Wicked Wine Run gave me the opportunity to experience the event the right way. I hope that Galveston gets it together next year. The Wicked Wine Run is a fun event, especially with a group of friends. I personally recommend the 1K, unless you’re Sporty Spice and really enjoy running. Plus, you get more wine with the 1K. #justsayin

Check out a listing of locations here. Until my next wine adventure…

Houston Restaurant Weeks: The Wine Edition

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It’s the most wonderful time of year for foodies across Houston. Yup, tomorrow marks the beginning of Restaurant Weeks for the city.

I know…get your elastic pants ready ;)

There are so many restaurants on the bill this year that I wanted to highlight those that are offering wine pairings with their lunch and dinner courses. As you’ll see, there are pairings by the glass and bottle. Check out the list below:

Americas River Oaks/The Woodlands
Cuisine – Latin/Spanish/Mediterranean
Two Course Lunch – $20
Three Course Dinner – $35
Wine by the Glass – $5.95

Amerigo’s Grill
Cuisine – Italian
Three Course Dinner – $45
Premium Wine by the Glass – $10

Backstreet Cafe
Cuisine – American Vegetarian
Three Course White Wine Dinner – $35
Three Course Red Wine Dinner – $35
* Additional $28 charge for wine pairings

Caracol
Cuisine – Mexican/Southwestern Vegetarian
Four Course Dinner (Menu Entre Las Olas – Between the Waves) – $45
Four Course Dinner – (Menu De La Tierra – On Dry Land) – $45
* Additional $28 charge for wine pairings

Churasscos – River Oaks
Cuisine – Latin/Spanish/Mediterranean
Two Course Lunch – $20
Three Course Dinner – $35
Wine by the Glass – $5.95

Ciao Bello
Cuisine – Italian Vegan Vegetarian Gluten Free
Four Course Dinner – $35
Wine by the Bottle – $40-42

Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House
Cuisine – Seafood Steak
Two Course Lunch – $20
Three Course Dinner – $45
Wine Features – $55-125

Ginger & Fork Restaurant
Cuisine – Asian Vegan Vegetarian Gluten Free
Three Course Dinner – $35
* Includes one glass of Sauvignon Blanc or Cabernet wine

Hugo’s
Cuisine – Mexican/Southwestern
Three Course Dinner (Menu de Vino Blanco) – $45
* Additional $27 charge for wine pairings
Three Course Dinner (Menu de Vino Rojo) – $45
* Additional $28 charge for wine pairings
Three Course Dinner (Menu de Vegetariano) – $45
* Additional $28 charge for wine pairings

NOE Grill at the Omni Houston Galleria Hotel
Cuisine – American Gluten Free
Three Course Dinner – $35
* additional $25 charge for wine and cocktail pairing

Seasons 52 – Westheimer/City Centre
Cuisine – American Vegan VegetarianGluten Free
Three Course Lunch – $20
Four Course Dinner – $35
Wine by the Glass – $7

Sullivan’s Steakhouse
Cuisine – Steak
Two Course Lunch – $20
Three Course Dinner – $35
Sullivan’s Cabernet Sauvignon | $13 gls / $55 btl

Tony’s
Cuisine – Italian
Three Course Dinner – $45
Wine Specials – $38-95

I hope this list comes in handy. Please let me know if you try any of the suggested wine paired meals during Houston Restaurant Weeks. Happy eating and of course sipping!