Jeff's blog

Photo Essay: Fredericksburg Food and Wine Fest

Written By: jeff

Posted On: November 21st, 2011

fredericksburg food and wine festival, drink texas wine

Clever marketing, no?

When you think of Texas, you probably don’t think of wine. But, that’s changing. Even though the state is the 5th largest producer of wine in the US, it’s sort of like the Canada wine region, unknown by most people outside of the region. My hometown, Fredericksburg, Texas, has become the hub of the state’s wine country. Wine tasting rooms have long been a presence on Main Street. But, I was struck driving on US Highway 290, west of town towards Austin, how many wineries have taken root.

The quickest and most fun way to get a crash course on what Texas has to offer is to attend the annual Fredericksburg Food and Wine Fest. Started in 1990, I’ve never had the chance to go. As luck would have it, the festival happened to be going on on my trip to Texas in October. Finally, I could go! Here are a few photos from my day drinking, err sampling wine.

fredericksburg food and wine festival
Required gear? For god’s sake, you can’t be expected to carry your glass all day. I’ve never seen these around-the-neck glass carriers. But, by the looks of things, I was the one out of the loop. If you didn’t have one already, there was a vendor selling them in many handy colored leathers.

fredericksburg food and wine festival

25 wineries from around the state showed up to show off. As you enter, you get a glass for the day. You have the option of a ¨taste¨ or a full glass. A taste was anywhere from a ⅓ to ½ glass.  Some were more generous pourers than others. Or, maybe after a few pours, I didn’t really notice anymore.

fredericksburg food and wine festival, becker vineyardsYou might recognize the label from Becker Vineyards, one of Texas’ most successful wineries.

fredericksburg food and wine festival, viognierViognier was very popular with many of the vineyards. I was not familiar with the grape before the festival. It is nice and crisp, dry and slightly fruity in its finish. I tried several. And, my favorites were from Becker Vineyards and Brennan Vineyards. My least favorite of the day was a Vermentino from Bending Branch. There were also lots of reds being poured. But, I was there in the afternoon, it was beautifully sunny so I preferred to start with the whites. And let’s just say, I didn’t make it long enough to try the reds.

fredericksburg food and wine festival, sunset grill, pulled chicken sandwichFood was the other part of the story at the festival. While I do think there could have been more food stalls, once I found this pulled-chicken  sandwich spiced with guajillo chili from the Sunset Grill, I was in heaven. Their sliders looked pretty damn good too. Note to the Sunset Grill people: get this sandwich on your menu! Seriously!

fredericksburg food and wine festival, sliders

fredericksburg food and wine festival, texas balsamic wine

In two large tents there were vendors selling everything from lavender soaps to chili spices to hot sauce to farm-raised feta cheese to balsamic vinegar, in lots of flavors. I asked the balsamic guys how they got away with using the name balsamic in their product. Turns out they import it from Italy and then flavor it in central Texas, often with organic ingredients. This was a cool, unexpected find. These bottles pictured here are from the Texas Hill Country Olive Oil company and are certified organic.

fredericksburg food and wine festival, jeff loftonThere was always music playing during the festival. Here I caught Jazz trumpeter, Jeff Lofton, belting it out for the crowd. I thought the music selection for the event was great.

fredericksburg food and wine festivalJust for fun, people could enter the Great Grape Toss. I wonder if these purple balloons were filled with water, or wine? Regardless, the winners won a festival t-shirt.

fredericksburg food and wine festival, scare-o-lanternI’m not sure what this guys’ name was, but this Scare ‘O-Lantern was guarding the items in the charity silent auction. Oh, and he was up for auction too. The event raised money for the upkeep and beautification of Fredericksburg’s Market Square.

The biggest thing I missed was the group cooking classes. There was a huge tent featuring the region’s top chefs. It was packed and I felt just a bit too self-conscious to walk up while the chefs were cooking to get any photos.

Plan for 2012

If you are can make it to Fredericksburg in October 2012, plan your trip around the Fredericksburg Food and Wine Fest. Next year it will be held on October 27.

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Disclosure: Thanks to Creative Marketing who runs this great event for giving me a press pass to get in and enjoy the day. As always, all opinions are my own.

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