Discover Excellent Wines From Texas

Discover Excellent Wines From Texas
by Carolynn Waites
May 22, 2014

Texas Produces Fine Wine in Every Region of the State

Texas may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of wine, but the state has become the fifth largest producer of wine in the United States. In fact, the first vineyard established in North America by Franciscan priests was in Texas around 1662. According to the Texas Wine & Grape Growers Association, there were 273 wineries permitted by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission as of January 18, 2013. There are five different wine regions within Texas. Sample wine from each region and chances are you will find a new favorite.

Hill Country
The Texas Hill Country in central Texas is the most celebrated wine region in the state. It is home to over 70 wineries and is a popular tourist destination for winery tours. Becker Vineyards in Stonewall, Texas, is one of the top wineries in Texas. According to Grape.com, George W. Bush served Becker wines on several occasions in the White House. Their wines have won numerous national and international awards. Another popular award-winning brand from the Texas Hill Country region is Grape Creek Vineyards in Fredericksburg, Texas.

Southeast Texas (Gulf Coast)
Southeast Texas includes over 50 wineries in the region. Hybrid grapes such as Blanc du Bois are the most prevalent grapes grown in the area. Haak Winery produces some very popular wines with Blanc du Bois grapes grown at their vineyard in Santa Fe, Texas. Messina Hof in Bryan, Texas, is one of the best-known wineries in the state. Their wines have won numerous international and national awards. According to their website, Messina Hof produces over 50,000 cases of wine each year.

Texas Panhandle (High Plains)
Long, hot, dry summers with cool evenings make this an ideal region for growing grapes. The Texas Panhandle region has over 1,100 acres of vineyard land. Llano Estacado in Lubbock, Texas, is the largest, best selling Premium Winery in Texas. According to Grape.com, the winery produces about 220,000 cases of wine a year.

North Texas (DFW)
More than 75 wineries call the North Texas region home. The well-drained sandy loam soil that is in the area is excellent for growing grapes. Many great wines come from this region. One popular brand to try is Brushy Creek Vineyards in Alvord, Texas. They recently won three medals in the 2014 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

West Texas
The dry climate and mild winters in the West Texas region benefit the 1200 acres of vineyards. The West Texas region is home to the oldest bonded winery; the Val Verde Winery has been in operation since 1883. There are six other wineries located in the region. Ste Genevieve in Fort Stockton is one of the largest wineries in Texas. According to Grape.com, their vineyard covers over 8oo acres of land and they produce over 630,000 gallons of wine each year.

Spring Means Picking Strawberries in Texas

Spring Means Picking Strawberries in Texas
by Carolynn Waites
Mar 28, 2014

How to Pick Your Own Strawberries and What to Do with Them when You Get Them Home

It is spring and here in Texas that means strawberries! There are farms where you can pick your own strawberries and pay for them by the pound. Then it is all about enjoying as many of those juicy strawberries as you can before they go bad. Here are some tips and recipes to help you with your own strawberry harvest.

Strawberry Picking
Picking your own strawberries is a great way for a family to spend time together. Spending a few hours outside in a strawberry field on a beautiful spring day is the perfect way to welcome spring out of hibernation. Some tips on picking strawberries:

  • Always pick strawberries that are plump, firm, and fully red.
  • Take the stem just above the berry, hold it between your thumb and forefinger, and twist. You want to leave some stem above the berry when picked.
  • Strawberries bruise easily! Be gentle when you place them in the container, and do not try to overfill the container.
  • Check with the farm before you go about whether you can bring your own container. Some farms make you purchase a container from them, though they do let you bring it back for next time.
  • Do not forget sunscreen! You will be out in the sun for a while. Wear a wide-brimmed hat if you can. Bring water to drink, also.

Strawberry Storage
If you will be using the strawberries in the next couple of days, put them in the refrigerator. Do not wash them until you are ready to use them. If you want to keep them longer, freezing them is fine. Steps for freezing strawberries:

  • Freeze the strawberries as soon as possible after picking them. You want them to be fresh.
  • Wash the strawberries and drain them well in a colander. Make sure that you drain as much water as possible from them.
  • Cut the hull (the green cap and leaves) off the strawberries. You can leave the strawberries whole or cut them into pieces.
  • Put them in a freezer bag and remove as much air as possible. Use a vacuum sealer if you have one.
  • Label the bag with the date and contents; put in the coldest part of the freezer.
  • To thaw some strawberries, set them in the refrigerator overnight.

Strawberry Dessert Sauce

  • 2 cups strawberries, mashed
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix all ingredients and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Serve warm over puddings and soufflés.

Strawberry Cream

  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons cognac
  • 3 cups whipped cream
  • 3 cups strawberries

Mix together milk, egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch. Bring to a full boil, stirring constantly. Let mixture cool, and then add cognac and 2 cups whipped cream. Place 1 cup of strawberries in a mold, pour in half the cream; repeat process. Chill until firm. Decorate with the remaining strawberries and whipped cream. Serves 8.

Recipes are from The Czechoslovak Cookbook by Joza Brizova.
PickYourOwn.org is a wonderful resource on picking your own fruits and vegetables.