This is the fifth year that I've done the Kerrville Wine & Music Festival, and it always reminds me how passionate ordinary wine drinkers are about local wine. Which is a good thing, because even I sometimes need a reminder.
This year's audience asked the usual sort of intelligent questions (and they always want to know the price, of course), and we got a very favorable response when I asked them to contact their local legislator to help restore state funding for grape research. The Texas legislature convenes next year -- God save us.
After the jump, some highlights:
• How else have things changed? I spent an hour or so on Sunday afternoon at the Messina Hof tasting room outside of Fredericksburg, and I was far from the only one there. If someone had told me 20 years ago, when I started writing about Texas wine, that so many people would be at a winery on a Sunday afternoon having such a good time drinking Texas wine, I would not have believed them.
• Wines I enjoyed on this visit: The McPherson rousanne, which is so well done that I wish people elsehere had a chance to taste it; the Llano Estacado sauvignon blanc, which always surprises me given that it should be too hot here to make quality sauvignon blanc (and it's only $10 or so retail); the 2011 Haak reserve blanc du bois, which takes blanc du bois where it has never gone before; and the William Chris Emotion, a sturdy red blend with some potential.
• The music was, as always, worth the trip. Whit Hill pulled out her legendary "Cook a Chicken," which I need to run as a holiday post if there is a video of it. Alicia McGovern is one of my favorite kinds of folk singers -- vulnerable, poetic, and questioning. Though I will never understand the current popularity of the ukele.
• A tip o' the Wine Curmudgeon's fedora to Josephine Street restaurant in San Antonio, which pairs its Texas cuisine with Texas wine (though it would have been nice to see a couple of reds to go with the two whites on the dozen bottle or so list). I don't eat at Josephine Street every time I'm in San Antonio, but when I do, I'm always glad I did. It's cheap, the service makes some of Dallas' five-star restaurants look like Chili's, and the food is always what it should be.
• The speed limit on State Highway 130, the toll road bypass around Austin, is 80 mph. It was quite a shock to see the 80 on the speed limit sign, and what was even weirder is that half the cars weren't driving 80. Or that the toll road is barely used at all.