toast of texas
Published Sep/Oct 2006

Story and photos By Jason Gordon

The first sip of Texas-grown cabernet peppers your mouth with spicy, warm flavor then slowly trickles down your throat. You can almost taste the Great Plains and see that big-sky sunset over the western horizon.

Texas–the rough-and-ready state known for cattle, oil and politics–has a wine-making history that goes back 400 years when Spanish priests established vineyards at missions. Texas winemakers have survived booms and busts and today produce what some believe to be among the finest wines in the country.

Hundreds of wineries dot the map like stars in the Texas sky, and several wine trails lead Texans and tourists to the grape. But one of the best wine trails is in Grapevine, in the heart of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.

Start the day at noon and visit six wineries, most of which are in the historic downtown area. A trip to Grapevine makes a wonderful early fall getaway, especially during the week of GrapeFest, Sept. 7–10 (see related story).

City of wine

Grapevine got its name from the Wild Mustang grapes that grew in the area. Originally used by town natives to make jelly, these grapes were bottled by early Grapevine housewives making homegrown wine.

To begin the wine trail tour, start at Cross Timbers Winery, 805 N. Main St. Located on a historic Grapevine homestead that belonged to the town’s first doctor, this boutique winery offers a variety of Texas wines as well as its own award-winning selections.

The large property is dotted with massive oak trees that seem made for shady picnics, a large patio and a two-level converted barn that’s perfect for parties or special events, like the New Vintage Wine Trail Festival held in April. Grapevine White is one of the most popular offerings, and Cross Timbers specializes in blush, merlot, chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon.

Next on the trail is one of the newest wineries in Grapevine, Su Vino, 120 S. Main St. Su Vino–which means your wine in Italian–buys grapes from vineyards in North and South America, Europe and even Australia to make their wines.

A popular feature among local wine buffs, Su Vino allows customers to make their own vintage batch (28–30 bottles) for about $200–$300. Ruby, a light red wine, is a favorite among locals.

Homestead Winery and Tasting Room, 211 E. Worth St., is in the heart of the historic district. Located in a Texas Victorian cottage, Homestead Winery has the most “Texan” character of all the grapevine wineries. Most of the winery’s grapes are grown in Ivanhoe, Texas, Homestead’s main facility. Another Homestead Winery is in historic Denison. Knowledgeable wine experts staff the tasting room in Grapevine and are ready to offer you a glass of their award-winning selection.

Barbecue lovers will want to taste the Rose of Ivanhoe, a full-bodied, sweet wine. For an unusual touch, guests can leave their autograph on the tasting room wall.

The next stop is the La Buena Vida Vineyards Tasting Room, 416 E. College St. The oldest winery in Grapevine, La Buena Vida grapes are grown in Springtown, Texas. A lush arbor is the perfect setting to sip wine and relax. Don’t miss the NV Springtown Mist (white merlot).

Grapevine’s newest winery, D’Vine Wine (409 S. Main St.), is housed in the former city hall building. Guests are bathed in Tuscan atmosphere here and can also learn how to make their own wine.

A short drive down state Highway 121 takes you to Delaney Vineyards and Winery, 2000 Champagne Blvd. With an estate-like feel, the Delaney chateau was designed by an architect who studied the French Bordeaux region. Over the entrance, you will notice a Latin inscription, Vinum Laetificat Cor Hominis–wine rejoices the heart of man. With more than 10 acres of vineyard, Delaney is the only winery that grows, processes and bottles wine in Grapevine, Texas.

In August during harvest season, Delaney hosts an annual grape stomp where the public is invited to come help squash the grapes and begin the production process. Three Daughters (Dry Red) and Texas Rose are highly recommended wines to try here.

Stay a spell

For travelers who plan on staying overnight in Grapevine, consider the AAA four diamond Gaylord Texan Resort on Lake Grapevine (1501 Gaylord). In keeping with the Texas mantra bigger is better, this 1,500-room resort has five restaurants, a spa, sailboats and golf available to guests.

Food and wine lovers might consider joining the Gaylord Texan Wine and Food Society, with membership at $250 for couples ($150 singles). Benefits include one complimentary night hotel stay, plus free parking and priority reservations at all Gaylord Texan restaurants.

Come on down

The best time to come tour the Grapevine wineries is either in April during the New Vintage Wine Trail Festival or in September for GrapeFest. During these events, transportation is readily available via bus or the charming Grapevine Vintage Railroad.

Grapefest is the largest event drawing thousands of visitors, so get there early and make sure you enroll in the People’s Choice Awards, where you get to make the decision on which wine is the best.

When sampling the wines of Texas, picking the best is a task as tough as defending the Alamo. Davy Crockett never had it this good.

Jason Gordon is a new contributor from Dallas, Texas.

Above: Homestead Winery’s tasting room has a wall on which guests can make their mark.

Below: Taste the fine wines at La Buena Vida, Grapevine’s oldest winery.

Before You Go
For more information, contact the Grapevine Convention and Visitors Bureau, 1-800-457-6338 or visit online, www.grapevinetexas usa.com.

Order free information through the Reader Service Card online. Click on Reader Resources.

Stop by your nearest AAA service office for maps, reservations, TripTiks and TourBook guides. A list of offices to serve you is at www.aaa.com.

Celebrate the Grape

Grapevine will raise a glass to toast its wineries at the 20th annual GrapeFest, Sept. 7–10, the largest wine festival in the Southwest.

Sample fine wine and food from Texas and around the world, listen to live music, cast a vote for your favorite wine or bid on rare wines at the vintner’s auction–there’s even a grape stomp.

In addition, the Grapevine Vintage Railroad will offer one-hour excursions departing from the festival grounds. Tickets are $6 for children, $8 for adults.

Festival admission is $6 for adults, $3 for seniors and children, $15 for a family admission. A weekend pass is available for $10. Admission is free all day Thursday, Sept. 7, and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday. For details, contact the Grapevine CVB, 1-800-457-6338, www.grapevinetexasusa.com/grapefest.

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