A drink worth the drive: TX Hill Country WFF 

This is what I would do if I were you. (Oh, right, topic: The Texas Hill Country Wine & Food Festival.) The veteran Austin event has evolved from its early years, when it seemed that it was Dean Fearing, Robert del Grande, and Stephen Pyles over and over again, into a constantly changing, consistently hip almost-a-week with see-the-USA chefs and ’round-the-world wines. Having attended from the beginning more than 20 years ago, I admit to a period of lethargy — about the same time many of the festival’s originators appeared to suffer burnout as well. But dedicated boosters, including many Texas wine producers, have prevailed.

The festival website, texaswineandfood.org, will give you directions and prices for the events listed below and many others. Have fun for me, too, since I’ll be in Venice, Bologna, Verona … so nyahh, nyah (it sounds great, but do remember the pitiful exchange rate). If it weren’t for the fact that I will be hemorrhaging dollars and drinking wine in Italy precisely during the April 10-13 extravaganza, here’s where you would find me:

 

Thursday April 10

Spanish Wine and Tapas: 3:30-5:30 p.m. at Malaga restaurant. Up-and-coming regions of Spain with winemakers and tapas.

Film & Food: 6:30-9:30 p.m. at the Alamo Drafthouse at the Ritz. Charming Kate MacMurray, daughter of the famous film star Fred, will present MacMurray Ranch wines with a screening of The Caine Mutiny. Yes, her famous father stars — along with Bogart, her wines, and food TBD.

Austin Uncorked and Acoustic: 9:30 p.m.-midnight at Threadgill’s World Headquarters. This new event lets down the festival’s hair with wines, beer, cocktails, and bands as only Austin can do it.

Friday April 11

Hot Blooded Latin Lunch: 12:30 -2 p.m. at Doña Emilia’s. Join supremely hot-blooded Aaron Sanchez of Centrico and Paladar in NYC, along with local chefs, for an exploration of South American dishes and regional wines to match.

Moët Hennesy Tete de Cuvée Tasting: 3:30-5:50 p.m. at Barton Creek Resort & Spa. Check on location for this once-in-a-lifetime sampling of Dom Perignon, Krug, Dom Ruinart, and La Grande Dame.

Stars Across Texas: 7-10 p.m. at the Hilton. This grand tasting pools participants from all over Texas (including some of San Antonio’s best chefs) and offers wines from, well, everywhere. Yes, it’s in a hotel ballroom, but where else can you do this kind of thing?

Saturday April 12

Hair of the Chihuahua: 10-11:30 a.m. at El Chile Café & Cantina. This morning-after event features the sizzling Señor Sanchez again, along with Ross Outon, star of PBS’s The Winemakers, in a chile-heals-all breakfast with dutifully pelo-del-perro libations.

Under the Texan Sun: 2-3:30 p.m. at the Four Seasons Hotel. Josh Wesson, champion of wine for the rest of us, will examine the (hoped-for) revolution in Texas involving the planting of warm-clime grapes such as grenache, syrah, viognier, and tempranillo.

Zen Nation: 10 a.m.-noon at Action Figure Studios. Another party Austin-style. Cocktails, celebs, Ecco Winery, and more. Call for venue.

Sunday April 13

Sunday Fair: Noon-5 p.m at San Gabriel Park. The ultimate, end-it-all event with tons of restaurants, wines, demos, kids’ activities … my favorite thing if you must know.


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