Why Texas is made for rosé wines

In Texas, it’s never been easier to enjoy rosé all day.

Photo by Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. Texas-grown rosés were spotlighted at a recent wine event.
Photo by Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. Texas-grown rosés were spotlighted at a recent wine event.

The inaugural Texas Wine Revolution on Sunday brought together a variety of these Texas-grown wines — each with their own flavorful nuances and refreshing, beat-the-heat qualities.

William Chris Vineyards’ event proved that Texas excels at making this increasingly popular style of wine. In fact, grape growers and winemakers in the state are now deliberately setting aside acreage to make rosé, which used to be (and sometimes still is) a mere byproduct in the production of making red wine. By growing grapes for rosé — which isn’t made the same way as its red counterpart — producers are raising the quality of the wine.

“We have the perfect climate and weather for rosé,” Doug Lewis of Johnson City’s Lewis Wines said at a VIP panel before the Texas Wine Revolution officially kicked off. “Texas, especially the Hill Country and the High Plains, has a competitive advantage in making a good rosé. We’ve had to figure out what nature is giving us, and rosé seems to be one of those things. And it really doesn’t take long to make those wines.”

They are the money makers for many winemakers because “they don’t need time in the barrel or bottle,” he said. And with sales of rosé wine at a 52 percent increase, there’s even more reason for wine producers to make them.

Here are three (my favorites at the fest) that demonstrate Texas’ distinct ability to make good rosés:

  • Becker Vineyards Jolie 2014: A recent award winner, this dry everyday wine “is filled with floral notes of strawberry, peach and violet,” according to Becker.
  • William Chris Vineyards 2015 Cinsault Rosé: Made with a grape that’s showing promise in Texas, it lures you in with notes of berry and orange and keeps you hooked with fresh sage.
  • McPherson Cellars 2015 Les Copains Rosé: The Lubbock winery knows how to make a consistently good rosé, with crisp acidity and delicate fruitiness balancing out herbal notes.

“A Clockwork Orange”-inspired bar slated for East Austin

Charlie Valentine, who has worked as a local bartender, plans to open his first bar in East Austin this summer.
Photo by Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. Charlie Valentine, who has worked as a local bartender, plans to open his first bar in East Austin this summer.

One local entrepreneur wants to combine his love of film, music and New York with the opening of his first bar, Moloko, named after the made-up milk-based drink served in the Stanley Kubrick movie “A Clockwork Orange.”

Although Charlie Valentine is paying tribute to the film — which is based off the linguistically marvelous Anthony Burgess novel of the same name — the bar isn’t completely an homage to it. At only 500 sq. ft., it’s more like the old hole-in-the-wall punk rock bars on the Lower East Side in New York where Valentine used to spend much of his time, attracted to the casual ambience and the music playing out of jukeboxes.

“I was always intrigued by the drink in ‘A Clockwork Orange,'” he says. “I felt like the concept of that drink, absolutely fictitious, is that it’s mysterious, it’s cool, full of adventure. And also, that space where the scene takes place in, it’s a beautiful space. Our bar won’t be like it, though. We took inspiration from it, but the feel and design of Moloko is going to be more mid-century, simple and chic.”

He and business partner Miguel Jimenez — owner of Nomad Bar, the Lost Well and St. Roch’s — are hoping to open Moloko by month’s end along an increasingly more lively stretch of East Twelfth Street where bars like the King Bee Lounge already dwell.

Although the corner of East Twelfth and Chicon used to be known for drug deals and other shady occurrences, Moloko will become the fifth bar there, transforming the area into another gentrified, entertainment-focused swath of East Austin. It’s the only part of town where Valentine would look for a space, he says, because the east side reminds him of Brooklyn: “all about counter culture, young entrepreneurs, very trend-setting,” he says. “It’s the perfect neighborhood for my bar.”

Moloko is going to have a namesake milk punch with secret ingredients, Valentine says, as well as craft beer and other cocktails that he and a bartender from Weather Up are currently mocking up. He also wants to offer a good wine selection, which isn’t a common offering at other dive bars.

And unlike many other local watering holes, Moloko won’t have much live music because of the small size of the space. That’s OK to him, though: Valentine says “the focal point for me, at all the bars in New York that I went to, was a jukebox, so there definitely will be one of those. It’s going to have a mix of punk rock, soul, blues, rock ‘n’ roll, classic rock. Maybe even some Mozart and Beethoven,” as another nod to “A Clockwork Orange.”

He’s hoping the bar becomes a place for musicians living or working on the east side to hang out. And with plans to offer a “punk rock drag queen karaoke night,” he wants to attract LGBT folks, too.

“I want a diverse crowd,” he says.

Although Valentine has worked at places where craft cocktails are top of mind and menu, like Peche, Barlata and the now-shuttered Haddingtons, the drinks are less important to him than the atmosphere and overall vibe of Moloko.

“The focus for me is more on the ambience and the people. And the bartenders; we’re there to facilitate all of that,” he says. “But everyone continues to ask me about the drinks. What drinks we’re going to have. I tell them, ‘Sure, we’ll have those, but it’s not about the drinks.’ It’s a trend in Austin to focus on the products of a place, but I think that ignores the reason we’re really there: for the experiences and the people. It’s not about what’s behind the bar but beyond it.”

Moloko will open at 1812 E. Twelfth St. For more information, visit molokobaratx.com/.

Austin restaurants make Riesling the wine of summer

Sway is one of the local restaurants participating in the Wines of Germany's Summer of Riesling program.
The Thai-focused Sway is one of the local restaurants participating in the Wines of Germany’s Summer of Riesling program.

As a traditionally sweet wine, Riesling hasn’t always been the drink of choice among wine lovers, but 16 local restaurants are hoping to change that with a special running through August this year.

The Summer of Riesling is offering diners who want wine with their meal the chance to try German-made Rieslings by the glass. Each participating restaurant will have at least two of these wines available. Plus, several of these places, like Perla’s, Whip In and Sway, will also be pouring a third German varietal (which is being kept a surprise) and educating their guests about Riesling through tasting programs.

One master sommelier whose group of restaurants is partaking in the Summer of Riesling program wants to make a few Riesling converts out of her customers. June Rodil, beverage director for the McGuire Moorman Hospitality Group, has brought this program from the Wines of Germany to several McGuire Moorman dining spots, including Jeffrey’s and Josephine House, because of her deep love for the white wine.

“By opening up a fun and accessible dialogue with our guests, we hope to encourage them to shed any negative images they have of this amazing wine and, more so, encourage guests to learn a little more about their own palates ’cause there’s a Riesling for everyone,” she said. “I could go on and on about the nuances and versatility and ageablity of the grape, but frankly — it’s just damn delicious and refreshing. Quite simply — Riesling is my desert island wine, and sometimes Texas seems like a desert in the summer.”

Participating Austin restaurants include (in addition to the ones already listed) Lenoir, Otto’s German Bistro, Parkside, Red Room Lounge and Trio. For the full list, visit germanwineusa.com/news/summer-of-riesling-returns-its-all-german-all-summer/.

East Side Showroom to become a new bar with Dickensian name

Photo by Emma Janzen. Toast to the end of East Side Showroom on its last day on July 24. The bar will become a new spot called Ah Sing Den "by summer's end."
Photo by Emma Janzen. Toast to the end of East Side Showroom on its last day on July 24. The bar will become a new spot called Ah Sing Den “by summer’s end.”

It turns out the news that East Side Showroom is closing on July 24, on the heels of its seventh anniversary, isn’t all bad. The bar announced on Facebook today that the team that runs it has a new concept in mind for the space: Ah Sing Den.

“As seven year itches tend to ignite in us a need to embark on change, we hope you will join us in a new era of more unforgettable memories, love stories, and friendships,” the Facebook page reads. “Before summer’s end, we will be honored to host you again at the new” Ah Sing Den.

Along with the small paragraph about the upcoming bar, East Side Showroom’s Facebook post also includes a quote from Charles Dickens — “The pain of parting is nothing to the joy of meeting again” — that hints at the meaning behind the unusual name.

The famous nineteenth-century writer, ever the chronicler of the Victorian era’s gloomier side, featured a real London opium den run by a man named Ah Sing in the Dickens’ novel “The Mystery of Edwin Drood.” Opium dens, where the poppy-derived drug was sold and smoked, were common in the 1800s. This rich history behind the name Ah Sing Den suggests the new concept will be tied to that time period — in all the best, no-actual-opium-sold-here kind of ways, of course.

But even though we’ll have somewhere new to go in place of East Side Showroom, the closing of this beloved East Sixth Street spot feels, as Statesman food writer Matthew Odam noted last week, like the “end of an era.” The Showroom, after all, was one of the first places to introduce Austin to well-made classic cocktails. Bid adieu at a party on July 24.

Inaugural Texas Wine Revolution showcases state’s best rosés

Brennan Vineyards' 2015 Dry Rosé will be one of the delicious rosés at the Texas Wine Revolution.
Brennan Vineyards’ 2015 Dry Rosé will be one of the delicious rosés at the Texas Wine Revolution on Sunday.

In the Hill Country, William Chris Vineyards is bringing wine lovers an event that will allow us to enjoy rosé all day, a type of wine that has been in vogue of late.

And not just any rosé — the winery’s inaugural Texas Wine Revolution on Sunday will feature all Texas-made rosés from some of the best wineries in the state, including Bending Branch Winery, Brennan Vineyards and McPherson Cellars. (McPherson’s Les Copains Rosé is regularly regarded as a top choice among publications like Texas Monthly.)

William Chris Vineyards decided to put together the event, which runs from 1 to 4 p.m. at the winery’s Hye location, to showcase the distinct terroir of Texas.

“We are seeing a revolution in wine growing here in Texas, where winemakers are producing different styles of Texas grown wine reflecting more of our culture, terroir and cuisine,” William Chris winemaker and owner Chris Brundrett said in a press release. “Rosé is one of those incredibly versatile wines that goes with a wide variety of foods. This event will showcase where those wines are grown, who is making them and what local chefs are pairing with them.”

In addition to the more than 20 wineries showing off their rosés, the Texas Wine Revolution will also feature local food purveyors, live music and picnic areas “readied for guests lounging among the Texas vines,” according to the release.

The $50 tickets, which you can purchase at the Texas Wine Revolution website, will get you “a six-bottle tote bag, a souvenir wine glass, a booklet with information about each winery that will double as a passport, tastings of more than 20 Texas-grown rosés, the opportunity to purchase bottles and glasses from participating wineries, live entertainment, complimentary valet parking, and samples from local food vendors,” according to the release.

Future Texas Wine Revolution events are going to feature different Texas-grown varietals each year.

For more about why Texas rosés are just so good, check out this American-Statesman column I wrote last summer about them. And for more information about the event, visit texaswinerevolution.com.

The Rose Room to provide a nightclub vibe at the Domain

The Rose Room, the final of the four original bar concepts to open at the Domain Northside’s entertainment district Rock Rose, is about to give North Austin something that part of town has never had before — a two-story nightclub with bottle service and table reservations.

Photo by Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. The Rose Room aims to be "a forum for sound and light," producing a "cacophonous symphony of energy," according to the website.
Photo by Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. The Rose Room aims to be “a forum for sound and light,” producing a “cacophonous symphony of energy,” according to the website.

Opening on Friday, the swanky dance club joins the Union Venture Group’s three other bars along Rock Rose Avenue: Saint Genevieve, a regal wine lounge; Jack and Ginger’s Irish Pub, a casual hangout with more than 80 beers on tap; and 77 Degrees, a rooftop rum bar. All are next door to each other.

None are quite like the Rose Room, the goal of Union Venture Group’s co-owner Darren Van Delden.

“For the past year, we have been preparing for the Rose Room’s debut, and I am confident that this venue will offer the most innovative experience in the Austin nightlife scene,” Van Delden said in a press release. “The unveiling of our club will offer a second-to-none atmosphere and entertainment that’s just a taste of what the Rose Room will continue to bring to Rock Rose.”

The nightclub aims to dazzle from the moment you walk inside thanks to an escalator with flashing lights that will lead you into a red-hued entrance hall. From there, you can dance your way into the sprawling main space: an open two-story room with a dance floor in the center, three bars serving up drinks and stadium seating throughout, as well as balconies that overlook the Rock Rose district. A house DJ will provide the music each night, according to the press release. A small local design firm, McCray and Co., gave the Rose Room its striking look.

And when you’re leaving the Rose Room via staircase, you’ll pass 77 Degrees on the way — a tempting nightcap.

The Rose Room will be opened Fridays and Saturdays only from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., with three levels of table service ranging from $200 to $500 and bottle options including spirits and champagne. (Be prepared to spend.) For reservations, call 512-743-1400; for more information, visit theroseroom.club.

Austin’s drinking events calendar, July 2016

Photo by J. Potter-Miller. Last Stand Brewing, down the street from Jester King, will be open on Saturdays from 1 to 6 p.m. starting this weekend, when you'll be able to try the brewery's two flagship beers.
Photo by J. Potter-Miller. Last Stand Brewing is teaming up with its boozy neighbors, Argus Cidery and Revolution Spirits, on Fourth of July weekend for a series of collaborative releases.

‘Merica Fest 2.0 at the Brew & Brew, 2 p.m. Friday, July 1. Get your Fourth of July celebrations started early and stop into try some great American brews from the likes of Real Ale and Austin Beerworks.

Reds, Whites & Blue Cheese at the Austin Winery, 12 p.m. Saturday, July 2. The Austin Winery is supplying the red and white wine, while the Burro Cheese Kitchen will have the blue cheese sandwiches.

Celebrate Your Independence First Saturday Party at Independence Brewing, 1 p.m. Saturday. This patriotic version of the monthly party is offering three beers for the purchase of a $10 wristband.

Craftsman Park All-American Release Party, 1 p.m. Saturday, July 2. Boozy neighbors Argus Cidery, Last Stand Brewing and Revolution Spirits are sharing their collaborative releases.

Rustic Tap Grand Opening, 2 p.m. Saturday, July 2. This outdoor beer bar from the Original Hoffbrau Steakhouse next door is officially opening with adult sno cones, party games and even a slip-n-slide.

Geraldine’s Red, White and Blues, 8 p.m. Sunday. The night on the rooftop deck at Hotel Van Zandt kicks off with a live show from Jackie Venson, accompanied by patriotic bites and cocktails.

Fourth of July at Live Oak Brewing, 12 to 8 p.m. Monday, July 4. This family-friendly party will have good ol’ American tunes along with some special dry-hopped casks featuring American hops.

Fourth of July Party at Hops & Grain, 12 p.m. Monday, July 4. Hops & Grain’s annual Independence Day party returns with special glassware and Your Mom’s offering sliders.

Like sister bar Drink.Well, Backbeat offers well-made cocktails and food, some of which will be on special during happy hour.
Backbeat is throwing a shrimp boil on the Fourth of July with drink specials and eats.

Backbeat’s 4th of July Shrimp Boil, 2 p.m. Monday, July 4. All-you-can-eat Gulf shrimp boil with trimmings and drink specials from Brooklyn Gin, Friends & Allies Brewing and Old Forester Bourbon. $20 in advance, $25 at the door.

The Rattle Inn 4th of July Fireworks Viewing Party, 8 p.m. Monday, July 4. The rooftop deck at the Rattle Inn offers great views of the fireworks and tasty cocktails to boot.

El Alma’s 5 Year Anniversary, 7 p.m. Thursday, July 7. Celebrate with margaritas and mariachis at this anniversary fiesta. $5 Margaritas Clasicas will be available ‘til closing time.

Chef McGrath’s Summer Dinner Party with Wine at Central Market Cooking School, 6:30 to 9 p.m. Friday, July 8. A five-course feast paired with summer wines.

Twisted X Brewing’s 5th Anniversary Picnic, 2 to 7 p.m. Saturday, July 9. This Hill Country brewery will launch a rebranding with music, merchandise from local artisans and family-friendly activities.

Red Line Brewery Tour 3, 4:30 to 10 p.m. Saturday, July 9. Take the Capital MetroRail Red Line to visit three local breweries – Black Star Co-op, Circle Brewing and Zilker Brewing. If you go to all three, you can get some free swag.

Texas Wine Revolution, 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, July 10. Taste rosé wines from more than 20 Texas wineries, which are showing off their distinct terroir at this event at William Chris Vineyards in Hye with live music, food and more. $50.

Photo by Emma Janzen / American-Statesman. Whisler's celebrates its 2-year anniversary on June 28.
Photo by Emma Janzen. Whisler’s celebrates its 3-year anniversary on July 10.

Whisler’s 3 Year Anniversary, 2 p.m. Sunday, July 10. Raise a glass to this East Austin cocktail bar, which will have live music, a special cocktail menu and a beer from Oasis, TX Brewing made especially for Whisler’s.

10 Years of Texas Beers at Opal Divine’s Marina, 5 p.m. Tuesday, July 12 through 8 p.m. Friday, July 15. Enjoy tap takeovers from Thirsty Planet, Independence Brewing, Karbach Brewing, Real Ale and more.

Infinite Monkey Theorem Wine Dinner at Counter 357, 6 and 8 p.m. Tuesday, July 12. A five-course feast paired with IMT wines including the 2014 Bubbles Universe and the Denver Cabernet Franc. $100.

Zax’ Thirteen Year Anniversary Party, 4 to 10 p.m. Wednesday, July 13. This Barton Springs Road restaurant is still going strong, so toast with a special tapping of Lagunitas Lucky 13.

Jacoby’s and Austin Eastciders’ Dinner, 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, July 14. The east side neighbors are pairing up for this four-course meal featuring Eastciders’ four main ciders. $65.

Six-Pack Stories, 7 p.m. Thursday, July 14. The “original gangsters” of craft beer – such as Brad Farbstein of Real Ale Brewing and Brock Wagner of Saint Arnold Brewing – are teaming up in this panel to share long-lost stories of the early days.

Summer Luau & Pig Roast at the Whip In, 3 to 10 p.m. Saturday, July 16. $2 off any beer or wine if you’re wearing a Hawaiian shirt at this surf rock party.

Real Ale 20 for 20 at the Growler Bar, 4 to 7 p.m. Sunday, July 17. Pflugerville’s newest craft beer bar is having Real Ale take over the taps to mark the brewery’s 20th anniversary.

Odell Tiger Whisper Release Party, 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 19. At Easy Tiger, try the beer bar’s collaboration brew with Odell Brewing in Colorado. Tiger Whisper is a single-hop pale ale.

Official Launch of Friends & Allies’ Urban Chicken Saison, 5 p.m. Tuesday, July 19. The local Friends & Allies Brewing is releasing another animal-themed beer at Mean Eyed Cat.

Kitty Cohen’s Grand Opening, 7 to 11 p.m. Friday, July 22. After replacing Bar 2211, Kitty Cohen’s, a beachy retro-inspired bar, is officially opening with Proof & Cooper fried chicken and live tunes from the Avocados and DJ Shorty Stump.

Texas Keeper Cider Release Party, 11 a.m. Saturday, July 23. The South Austin cidery is welcoming a new demi-sec cider that will remind your palate of a good German Riesling. Live music, lawn games and food also await.

Taste of Cesar Chavez Festival, 12 to 5 p.m. Saturday, July 23. Craftsman is playing host to a variety of local bars and restaurants on East Cesar Chavez, including Jacoby’s, Mongers and Sawyer & Co., to showcase the flavors of the street.

Wet Hot Adelbert’s Summer & Can Release Party, 1 p.m. Saturday, July 23. Adelbert’s beers are finally going into cans, and the brewery is marking the moment with live music, food trucks and a snow cone station.

1st Annual Beer Can Chicken Competition, 4 to 9 p.m. Saturday, July 23. Three local breweries – Austin Beerworks, Hops & Grain and Independence – compete against each other and Whip In chefs.

Z’Tejas’ Celebration of National Tequila Day, 11 a.m. Sunday, July 24. All three locations of this Tex-Mex spot will have a deal too good to miss: half off all tequila drinks. Yes, all of them. All day.

Feast of Saint Arnold Beer Dinner at Greenhouse Craft Food, 6:30 p.m. Sunday, July 24. The Round Rock restaurant’s monthly beer pairing dinners are returning with this one featuring Bishop’s Barrel beers and other Saint Arnold offerings. $70.54.

Recalcitrant Dockhand Tapping at Black Star Co-op, 5 to 11 p.m. Tuesday, July 26. The gold medal winner at last year’s Great American Beer Festival returns with all the roasted coffee, vanilla and molasses notes you swooned over last time.

Adjunct Professor Blackberry Release at Blue Owl Brewing, 3 to 10 p.m. Wednesday, July 27. Professor Black has gotten fermented with blueberries and blackberries, so it tastes like a sour-mashed stout with chocolate-covered berries. How can you resist that?

Real Ale 20th Anniversary Backyard Bash & Tap Takeover at the Blackheart, 5 p.m. Saturday, July 30. Two days’ worth of cellared releases tapping in one afternoon, Texas barbecue and rock ‘n’ roll in celebration of 20 years of Real Ale.

Pinthouse Pizza South Lamar’s Grand Opening Party, 11 a.m Saturday, July 30. Yeah, the second location of this brewpub has been opened awhile, but who can turn down a party with special beer tappings, door prizes and more?