Traveling the Texas Wine Trail brings buckets of good cheer

October is Texas Wine Month. You will have noticed that it's already more than half over.

Sorry. But there are ways to make up for this oversight. One is to get yourself over to Steinheimer's Lounge at the Westin La Cantera Hill Country Resort any day in October between 5 and 6 p.m. There, Resort Sommelier Steven Krueger has choreographed tasting flights of different Texas wines. Ten dollars will get you four two-ounce pours. At one of these tastings (now past — sorry again), Krueger also introduced to a local audience Dr. Russell D. Kane and his new book The Wineslinger Chronicles — Texas on the Vine.

Kane, "The Texas Wineslinger," has been writing about Texas wine and cuisine since 1998; you can find out more about the book at and can also check out his Texas wine blog at The blog lists Kane's top-ten Texas wines of 2011, wherein, for example, grapes such as vermentino and roussanne take top honors. Take that, cabernet and chardonnay.

If you hurry, and in the unlikely event that there is still room (one more apology), Dr. Kane will make another Wine Month appearance with his book at a vintner dinner to be held tomorrow, October 18, at Chef Ross Burtwell's Cabernet Grill in Fredericksburg. The dinner, which starts at 6:30 p.m. and costs $75 plus tax and tip, will also feature the wines of 4.0 Cellars, a collaboration between Brennan Vineyards, Lost Oak Winery, and McPherson Cellars. (4.0 recently opened a tasting room near Fredericksburg.) You can check for available seats at (830) 990-5734, but should there be no availability, all is not lost; the restaurant always features an all-Texas wine list (the only one I know of) as a complement to Burtwell's grilled Texas quail and lobster-topped chicken fried Angus ribeye.

The two remaining weekends in the month also offer some other opportunities to explore Texas wine — maybe. The Texas Hill Country Wineries group has organized a Texas Wine Month Trail event in which $20 will get you tastings at all 32 affiliated wineries, as well as discounts on wine purchases. The group's website,, doesn't indicate that tickets are sold out, and if luck persists, there might also be availability at the barrel and tank tastings to be held at a more select group of wineries on October 21 and 28. These tickets are $100, but the opportunity to sample from barrels, tanks, and, in some cases, from library selections, is unique.

While you're exploring the website, you might also want to check out the Holiday Wine Trail. Tickets for this event, which runs from Friday, November 30, to Sunday, December 16, actually don't go on sale until October 20. So, for a change, you actually have advance notice. For the holidays, $60 per couple includes a grapevine wreath, a Christmas ornament from each of the 31 participating wineries, and a 15 percent discount on three-bottle purchases — not to mention buckets of good cheer. The cost of any tastings isn't included in this case, but by now perhaps intimations of the ever-improving quality of Texas wines will have convinced you that a modest tasting charge is fully justified. No apologies required.

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