Austin’s drinking events calendar, June 2017

Contributed by Olive & June. Negroni Week returns to participating Austin bars and restaurants from June 5-11. Proceeds from Negroni purchases, like this Frozen Show Pony Negroni from Olive & June, go toward good causes chosen by each place.

Thursday, June 1

Banger’s Summer Love Luau with Victory Brewing, 6 to 10 p.m. Summery outfits are encouraged at this party featuring a variety of Victory beers, including Summer Love Blonde Ale.

Boots & Bourbon at the Driskill Grill, 7 to 9 p.m.The Driskill restaurant is pairing meats from Austin’s Ranger Cattle with whiskey from Fort Worth’s Firestone & Robertson Distilling. $79.

Friday, June 2

Blue Owl Brewing Saison Puede Release, 12 p.m. Don’t miss this limited run of bottles filled with Blue Owl’s sour, spicy and fruity spring seasonal.

Uncle Billy’s June First Friday Firkin, 5 p.m. This month’s firkin is a Coffee IPA: the Green Room IPA with lightly roasted Puerto Rican Arabica coffee beans.

Saturday, June 3

Craftsman’s 2nd Anniversary Luau, 4 p.m. Pau Maui Vodka cocktails, a pig roast, hula girls and fire dancers will mark the birthday of this East Cesar Chavez bar.

Crystal Creek Distillery’s Grand Re-Opening Bash, 5 p.m. The Spicewood spirits maker has a new distillery and tasting room and wants to show it off with live music, giveaways and more.

Monday, June 5

Friends & Allies Can Release, 4 to 10 p.m. Friends & Allies Brewing is releasing its beers in cans for the first time. Pick up a six pack, but first, enjoy a draft pint of one of its limited seasonal options.

Gin Class at Bullfight, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Parkside Projects’ beverage classes continue with this study of gin, featuring gin cocktails and tapas from the Spanish-inspired restaurant. $32.50.

Astronomy on Tap, 7:30 p.m. This special edition of the monthly talks about the cosmos over beers brings in astronomers from the American Astronomical Society.

Thursday, June 8

South Lamar Negroni Stroll, 6 pm. Sip Negroni cocktails from Backbeat, Vox Table, El Burro and the Highball as part of the charity-focused Negroni Week.

Friday, June 9

Kings of Craft Series: Meet David Walker of Firestone Walker, 6 p.m. Flying Saucer is hosting a Firestone Walker tap takeover with the founder and lots of Parabola variations.

“Trappist Beer Travels” Book Release at WhichCraft Taproom, 6 to 10 p.m. The locally based authors of the new book about Trappist breweries will officially share the combination beer journal, history book and travelogue.

Saturday, June 10

Now That’s What I Call a ’90s Party at Hops & Grain, 1 p.m. Come dressed as your favorite Nickelodeon character or in straight-up ’90s garb for this old-school party at the brewery.

Reinheitsgebot Party at Orf Brewing, 2 p.m. No, Austin’s newest brewery isn’t celebrating the German purity law — just the German way of partying with beer.

National Rosé Day at Backbeat, 4 p.m. Say yes way to rosé with Backbeat, which is expanding its summer rosé list with 7 incredible rosé wines from around the world.

Sunday, June 11

Austin’s First Tequila ‘n’ Tacos Crawl, 1 p.m. Enjoy helpings of Austin’s favorite food with cocktails while exploring West Sixth bars like Star Bar and Parlor & Yard. $35.

Whisler’s 4th Anniversary Party, 1 p.m. To celebrate this boozy birthday, on-site food truck Thai Kun is whipping up something special. Plus, there will be live music, drink specials and prizes.

Monday, June 12

They’re Back! Celis Re-Launch at Whip In, 5 p.m. Celis’ iconic Celis White and new Citrus Grandis IPA will be on tap in advance of the brewery’s reopening in North Austin.

The Craft Series at 1886 Cafe & Bakery, 6 to 9 p.m. The Driskill Hotel’s beer pairing dinner series continues, this time with Blue Owl Brewing’s sour-mashed beers. $40.

Tuesday, June 13

Easy Tiger’s Celis Launch Party, 5 p.m. Raise a glass of Celis White or Celis Citrus Grandis IPA with Christine Celis, the daughter of Celis Brewery’s original founder Pierre.

Wednesday, June 14

National Bourbon Day at Easy Tiger, 5 p.m. Celebrate this most important day with a special flight of Basil Hayden’s, Maker’s Mark, Knob Creek & Booker’s for $12.

Vox Table’s Shacksbury Cider & WhistlePig Whiskey Dinner, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Chef Joe Anguiano has prepared a special four-course menu to pair with the cider and whiskey. $65.

Thursday, June 15

Cannon + Belle’s Texas Winemaker Dinner Series, 7 p.m. This month’s multi-course feast will feature wines from Lubbock’s McPherson Cellars as well as the founder, Kim McPherson.

Saturday, June 17

Hi Sign Brewing’s New IPA Release Party, 12 to 10 p.m. The brewery is making its lucky number seven beer and wants to celebrate the milestone with you. Relax in Hi Sign’s on-site hammocks.

Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. Hi Sign is releasing a new IPA at the brewery, the seventh beer it has made.

Off Flavor Tasting at B.B. Rover’s, 3 to 6 p.m. Train your palate to recognize off flavors in your beer with the help of this workshop led by a certified cicerone (beer expert). $25.

Garrison Brothers’ Winner, Winner Chicken Dinner. The Hill Country whiskey distillery is hosting a dinner to celebrate filling its 10,000th barrel with booze. $25-$40

Sunday, June 18

Father’s Day BrewBCruise, 2 p.m. Feast on Uncle Billy’s barbecue and beers while enjoying a relaxing cruise down Lady Bird Lake with your old man. $40.

Central Market Cooking School: Father’s Day Beef & Beer Dinner, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Spend the evening with Dad while learning to make beefed-up dishes paired with craft beer. $140.

Monday, June 19

St. Elmo Brewing, Soursop and Lewis & LeRoy Beer Dinner, 6 p.m. This collaborative dinner between two Austin food trucks and a brewery will feature a special beer, a Sichaun Saison. $78.

Saturday, June 24

Meet the Founder of Avery Brewing, 12 p.m. Banger’s is hosting Adam Avery of the Colorado brewery and will have a variety of Avery beers on tap like Liliko’i Kepolo.

Sierra Nevada Beer Camp, 5 to 9 p.m. Beer Camp on Tour comes to Austin and will feature both Beer Camp collaborations and other beers from U.S. breweries. $40-$75.

Should Texas wine be made with 100 percent Texas-grown grapes?

Miguel Lecuona for American-Statesman. William Chris Vineyards makes wine from 100 percent Texas-grown grapes and supports a House bill that would require all wineries to use state fruit for a Texas label.

Far fewer people now doubt that Texas can make wine on par with California, France and other top winemaking regions of the world. With the reputation of the state’s flourishing wine industry secure, a small but growing group of winemakers believe the next step should be authenticity — a law establishing that wine can only be granted Texas appellation if it’s made from 100 percent Texas-grown grapes.

Others in the industry, including the main organization Texas Wine & Grape Growers Association, are against the proposed bills, House Bill 1514 and Senate Bill 1833, that would seek to make this designation a reality. They argue that the state’s grape growers haven’t yet established they have the yields, year after year, to fully supply the winemakers, especially when vineyards are so often at the mercy of the weather.

But for Chris Brundrett, arguably the biggest proponent of the bill and the co-owner of William Chris Vineyards in Hye, a small town on the road to Fredericksburg, there’s one irrefutable reason to support what he calls greater transparency with Texas wine: because it will lend more significance to the notion of Texas wine, especially to many of the state’s own consumers who expect their wine to have been grown here, too, and not just made or processed here.

“We want to grow this industry and want our consumers to know that if we put Texas on the label, it means as much as Washington or California,” Brundrett said, citing two states with more stringent labeling guidelines.

Like other states besides California, the Texas wine industry currently follows federal labeling regulations. Wines can have an appellation of origin (a geographical indication given to certain products derived from a specific place) if they’re made with a minimum of 75 percent grapes grown in that state. The other 25 percent can come from anywhere.

HB 1514 and its Senate counterpart would seek to change that: to guarantee that wines with a Texas label be made using entirely Texas-grown grapes.

The former bill is currently pending in committee and, with so little time left for the 85th Texas Legislature, might not even be considered on a wider scale. But the passionate feelings on either side — with winemakers straddling both ends of the debate — nonetheless provides insight into the state of the Texas wine industry and whether it’ll be ready in two years, the next legislative session, for a decisive labeling law.

For Brundrett, the problem isn’t that many Texas winemakers still make a lot of their wine with out-of-state grapes — it’s that they aren’t clear about it. That’s something fellow Hye winemaker Benjamin Calais, of Calais Winery and nearby distillery Hye Rum, has also noticed. Both of their wineries make wine with 100 percent Texas-grown grapes and say they have earned loyal customers because of it.

“We’re a minority right now,” Calais said. “A lot of Texas wineries are using 25 to 30 percent of California juice to blend with Texas juice, and when you tell people that, they are unhappy about it. It’s like the craft beer movement, when breweries get sold, and people decide they won’t support those breweries anymore. For wine drinkers, there’s an expectation when you’re visiting a small winery in the Hill Country that the person in front of you is being truthful, and it’s just not always the case.”

Brundrett also said that a stricter labeling law won’t disrupt anyone who still wants to produce wine with out-of-state grapes; they just won’t be able to label it as Texas wine anymore.

“We get a lot of hailstorms and freezes and other weather situations that can damage our grapes, so Texas wineries have the choice not to take the risk of using Texas grapes. We’re not trying to take that away,” Brundrett said. “All the bill does is respect the sense of place of Texas wine.”

But other winemakers — many of them the biggest producers of Texas wine — think more regulation on the industry would stunt the growth of it so early in its development.

Messina Hof, the largest and one of the oldest wineries in the state, makes approximately 60,000 cases of wine a year in comparison to William Chris Vineyards’ 25,000 cases and tries to get as many grapes as possible from Texas. That’s just not always possible, Messina Hof CEO Paul M. Bonarrigo said, citing a loss of 25 percent of the winery’s crop last year due to hail.

The son of the original founders, Paul V. and Merrill Bonarrigo, he is not in support of HB 1514 for reasons beyond the availability of Texas grapes. He sees other issues as more pressing to the Texas wine industry, including new herbicides that he fears are unintentionally killing whole vineyards in the Texas High Plains as they drift in the wind from nearby cotton fields. The Texas High Plains produce a significant number of grapes for wineries around the state, and Bonarrigo sees the herbicides as a real threat to Texas wine.

“Our industry is in a delicate position,” he said. “My concern is that if we focus our energy on something like (HB 1514), we’re going to lose support legislatively on things that are very important for us to survive.”

The Texas Wine & Grape Growers Association, which represents winemakers like Messina Hof and William Chris Vineyards, ultimately opposed the bill as well and wrote a letter to the sponsoring legislator, Rep. Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs, about its decision made after “considerable discussion” about HB 1514.

“While we appreciate your interest in this issue, we feel that the regulations imposed by your bill would not benefit the industry or consumers at this time,” according to the letter signed by president Dusty Timmons. The association “has formed an internal committee to work on this issue and hopefully over time we will find a reasonable solution that will benefit everyone involved.”

Whether that solution will come in time for another proposed bill in the Texas Legislature in 2019 is still a big question. Brundrett, like other small winemakers who have worked hard to guarantee wines made only from Texas-grown grapes, is already confident the state is ready.

“Growing grapes in Texas is not easy. There are windstorms, hail and late freezes. A lot of uncontrollable variable. But there is so much technology and technique that has taken us out of the dark ages at the same time,” he said. “Now you’re seeing much more consistent crop levels. We’re growing an agriculture product with integrity, and we need this to take the industry to the next level.”

Austin’s drinking events calendar, April 2017

Photo by Tyler Malone. Live Oak Brewing, owned by Chip McElroy, is celebrating 20 years this month with an anniversary party.

Saturday, April 1

Pinthouse Pizza’s Fully Adrift Coffee-Infused Bottle Release, 11 a.m. The third beer in the brewpub’s Lost at Sea series is a double IPA infused with Houndstooth’s Tweed Coffee.

Starkbierfest with Dai Due, 5 p.m. Raise a stein to Austin Saengerrunde with this tasting of strong beers (like springtime doppelbocks) and a six-course paired dinner from Chef Jesse Griffiths.

Sunday, April 2

Texas Wine Revolution, 1 to 5 p.m. The tasting event at William Chris Vineyards returns with a focus on more than 25 Texas-made rosés from some of the state’s best wineries. $50.

Crawfish Boil Fundraiser at Bluebonnet Beer Co., 3 to 7 p.m. The Round Rock brewery’s first-ever crawfish fish benefits a good cause, the Muscular Dystrophy Association. $25.

Divine Chocolate & Beer Pairing at Black Star Co-op, 4 to 6 p.m. Seven of Black Star’s house beers will be tasted alongside fair-trade chocolate bars; pay for the flights, but the chocolate is complimentary.

Monday, April 3

Massican Wine Release Party at Italic, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. The Italian restaurant is hosting Massican owner and winemaker Dan Petroski, who has free pours of his latest vintage.

Friday, April 7

Dutch Party at Brentwood Social House, 6 to 9 p.m. Bring your own drinks to this celebration of European food such as stroopwafels, bitterballen and maybe even herring.

Saturday, April 8

Pinthouse Pizza’s 1st Annual Hootenanny, 11 a.m. In addition to a petting zoo, caricature artist, Jim Jim’s Water Ice and more, the South Lamar location will release a special IPA every two hours throughout the day.

Real Spirits Launch Party, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Real Ale Brewing is finally launching Real Spirits Distilling with three new products: a gin and two aged whiskeys. All three will be in bottles to go.

Texas Beer & Crawfish Boil at Texas Beer Co., 1 to 10 p.m. Make the drive to Taylor for an afternoon of beer, live music and crawfish from legendary cook David Terrell of the Austin BBQ Company.

Sunday, April 9

St. Elmo Brewing Crawfish Boil, 12 to 10 p.m. The afternoon will include beer and live music from Charles Thibodeaux and the Austin Cajun Aces, in addition to a Vietnamese-style crawfish boil from Soursop.

Easy Sunday with Austin Beerworks, 2 to 6 p.m. Easy Tiger will have $1 cans of beers like Pearl-Snap Pilsner and Bloodwork Orange IPA, as well as other Austin Beerworks brews on draft.

Monday, April 10

The Craft Series at the Driskill, 6 to 9 p.m. This month’s beer pairing dinner at the Driskill’s 1886 Cafe & Bakery will feature brews from the DFW area’s Community Beer Co.

Wednesday, April 12

Hops & Games at Hops & Grain, 6 to 10 p.m. It’s the monthly board game night at the brewery; you can either bring your own or play some of the games provided.

Meet the Brewer: BOM Brewery at Mort Subite, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Bert Van Hecke of BOM Brewery, which does all its own malting, will be at the Belgian beer bar with a curated selection of BOM beers.

Thursday, April 13

Spring Wines & Chocolate Pairing, 6:30 to 8 p.m. Chocolaterie Tessa is partnering with Mark Rashap, of KOOP Radio’s Anothe Bottle Down, for this delectable tasting. $55.

Friday, April 14

Flight of the Baptist at Flying Saucer, 11 a.m. There will be a mouthwatering flight on offer of all Epic Brewing Big Bad Baptist variations, including Son of the Baptist and Baptista.

Saturday, April 15

Austin Beerworks Sputnik Event at Pinthouse Pizza, 11 a.m. Sputnik and all of its variations, as well as another Austin Beerworks brew or two, are going on tap for this celebration of the Russian imperial stout.

2nd Annual Crawfish Boil at Whip In, 12 to 8 p.m. Get to the party promptly at noon for a cheap early-bird beer menu and enjoy crawfish and New Orleans-style music all afternoon. $24 for two people.

Live Oak Brewing’s 20th Anniversary Party, 12 to 10 p.m. Enjoy food truck grub from Quality Seafood, Texas Chili Queens and others while toasting to the East Austin brewery’s big birthday.

Monday, April 17

Rosé Tasting at the Austin Shaker, 6 to 9 p.m. Drink pink with the East Austin liquor store, which is hosting a tasting of several different rosé wines from France and the Pacific Northwest.

Wednesday, April 19

Brewery Rep Death Match at Flying Saucer, 6 to 9 p.m. Two Colorado breweries, Odell Brewing and Avery Brewing, are facing off for pride and glory, with much swag to be had for the spectators.

Spirit Tasting & Class: Scotch Edition at Craftsman, 7 to 10 p.m. Craftsman’s boozy classes exploring various spirits continue, this time with a focus on Scotch from Glenlivet. $22.09.

Thursday, April 20

ATX IPA Throwdown, 4 p.m. Star Bar has created what is sure to be a heated competition, with some of the city’s favorite IPAs going hop to hop against each other.

Austin Beer Guide Release Party, 6 p.m. The spring and summer issue of Austin Beer Guide is releasing at this Draught House party that will have special tappings and more.

4/20 Fest at Banger’s, 6 to 9 p.m. Celebrate the quintessential stoner holiday with beer, with a tap list that includes such themed suds as Sweetwater Hash Session and Independence’s Hop Brownie.

Saturday, April 22

Friends & Allies Brewing’s Grand Opening, 12 p.m. Celebrate the official opening of the East Austin brewery with all your favorite Friends & Allies beers.

Real Ale’s 21st Birthday Kegger, 12 to 5 p.m. This old-school kegger is a nod to the days when beer was simpler, so for this year’s anniversary beer, simply being called 21, expect a pre-Prohibition lager. $20.

Texas Keeper Cidery’s Earth Day Gardening Party, 12 to 5 p.m. Learn about tree grafting, heirloom plants and more while enjoying the cidery’s second collaboration cider with Blue Owl Brewing. $4.

Sunday, April 23

Geraldine’s On Deck, 5 to 8 p.m. Relax poolside at the Hotel Van Zandt, where you can sip cocktails made with Treaty Oak Distilling spirits and listen to hot tracks from Mixer Rogers.

Tuesday, April 25

Boston to Austin Tap Takeover at Whip In, 5 to 10 p.m. Infamous Brewing and Samuel Adams collaborated on a beer together, the BOSxAUS, a smoked oyster stout. It’s tapping along with other beers from Infamous and Samuel Adams.

Whiskey and Cheese Pairing at Craftsman, 7 to 8 p.m. Teeling Irish Whiskey will prove that wine isn’t the only alcoholic beverage that can pair with one of our favorite foods. $16.82.

Wednesday, April 26

Whiskey Roundup at TenOak Bourbon House & Lounge, 6 to 9 p.m. You’ll get to try six of a variety of different whiskeys and meet the makers behind them; plus, food and cocktails available for purchase. $15 in advance; $20 at the door.

Friday, April 28

Dapper Devil Bottle Release at Blue Owl Brewing, 12 to 10 p.m. Love the raspberry Belgian strong ale that sour mashing brewery Blue Owl makes? It’ll be in bottles, with a limit of one case per customer.

Austin Food & Wine Festival, 5 p.m. Friday through 5 p.m. Sunday. The fest returns to Auditorium Shores with top chefs, savvy sommeliers and talented winemakers from across the country. $250-$625.

Saturday, April 29

Zilker Brewing’s 2nd Anniversary Party, 12 to 6 p.m. The East Austin brewery will have an extended tap list in honor of its birthday, as well as live music, food and more.

Return of Tiki at Treaty Oak Brewing & Distilling, 12 to 10 p.m. Delicious tiki cocktails, Polynesian-inspired food, live music, hula and fire dancers, and a live demonstration of tiki carving by Doug Moreland await you.

Love Belgian Beer Fest, 1 to 8 p.m. Taste local Belgian-style brews and authentic imports, as well as enjoy live music and comedy, for a good cause. The event benefits the Boys & Girls Club of Austin. $53.74-$111.77.

Sunday, April 30

Bluebonnet Beer Dinner at Greenhouse Craft Food, 6:30 to 9 p.m. The Round Rock restaurant’s regular beer dinners continue, this time with a Round Rock brewery. $64.12.

Texas Wine Revolution returns as rosé celebration in April

Photo by Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. Texas-grown rosés are being spotlighted at a wine event in the Texas Hill Country on April 2.

Still one of the hottest trending wines, rosé is again the focus of William Chris Vineyards’ upcoming Texas Wine Revolution, an afternoon festival in the Hill Country with all Texas-made wine, food and music.

Rosé wine — a style of wine that gets more color from grape skin contact than white wine but not enough to be considered red wine — is now made by many of the major wineries in the state because of its popularity, and attendees of the April 2 event at William Chris, in Hye, will get to sample all of the best ones from more than 30 wineries.

William Chris Vineyards’ co-owner, Chris Brundrett, decided to move the second annual tasting event to the springtime, rather than summertime, because it’s outdoors at the winery. That’s one of the only things he changed.

“We decided to keep the focus on rosé again and turn this festival into an annual event,” he said. “Long term, we would love to start incorporating other styles of wine, but we want to perfect the process it takes to plan this unique event first.”

In addition to the tastings, the Texas Wine Revolution will also have live music from Uncle Lucius and Ravenna Sun and bites from Garbo’s Fresh Maine Lobster, Hitchin’ Post Steakhouse, Trudy’s Tex-Mex Restaurant & Bar, Mongers Market + Kitchen and Gillen’s Candies. You’ll be able to sample the food and then purchase your full meal.

Tickets are $50 and will include a souvenir wine glass, food samples, tastings of more than 25 Texas-made rosés, a tote bag that can hold six bottles of wine, and a booklet that explains each of the participating wineries’ rosés. Rosé can be made with a range of grape varietals — many of which are specially suited for the hot Texas climate.

“Rosé is such a wonderful style of wine for our state to grow, produce and pair with Texas cuisine,” Brundrett said.

To buy tickets to the 1 to 5 p.m. event and get more information, visit texaswinerevolution.com.

Armadillo’s Leap opens second winery tasting room in Fredericksburg

Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. From the founders of Pedernales Cellars, Armadillo’s Leap Winery offers a fun tasting room experience at its 290 location, with a gorgeous outdoor patio framed by grapevines. There's now a second location in the heart of Fredericksburg.
Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. From the founders of Pedernales Cellars, Armadillo’s Leap Winery offers a fun tasting room experience at its 290 location, with a gorgeous outdoor patio framed by grapevines. There’s now a second location in the heart of Fredericksburg.

There are now two locations where Texas wine lovers can taste Armadillo’s Leap wines in the Hill Country.

The winery from the owners of Kuhlken Vineyards and Pedernales Cellars — one of the state’s best producers of Texas-friendly grapes like tempranillo — introduced the Armadillo’s Leap label a few years ago as a way to experiment and have a little fun. Since then, it’s grown quickly: A tasting room on U.S. 290, on the road to Fredericksburg, went in business early last year, and now the newest location is throwing a grand opening celebration this weekend.

Located on Main Street in Fredericksburg, it will be another place where people can go to enjoy glasses of wine or pick up bottles to go.

And on Saturday, both locations of Armadillo’s Leap will have popcorn pairings, small bites and snacks to commemorate the arrival of the Main Street spot, which will also be where visitors can pick up bottles of the BFF Blend for 20 percent off and select merchandise for 10 percent off. Stop by either location from 12 to 5 p.m. to celebrate.

Visit the newest location of Armadillo's Leap on Saturday for a grand opening celebration. It's on Main Street in Fredericksburg.
Visit the newest location of Armadillo’s Leap on Saturday for a grand opening celebration. It’s on Main Street in Fredericksburg.

The BFF Blend is a blend of tempranillo, montepulciano and aglianico grapes, delivering notes of fig, chocolate and black tea in a medium body perfect for Texas cuisine like Tex-Mex and barbecue, according to the winery’s tasting notes about the red wine.

Armadillo’s Leap was started by the Osterberg-Kuhlken family, who wanted to give winemaker Dave Kuhlken an outlet for some of his winemaking ideas that didn’t involve tempranillo or viognier, Pedernales Cellars’ two specialties, and also wanted a more dedicated way to offer philanthropy to Central Texas nonprofits and organizations.

That’s the second function of Armadillo’s Leap: $1 of every case of wine sold in the tasting room goes to charity, a different one each year. Last year, the AL Gives program donated $2,000 to Westcave Preserve. This year, that money will benefit Ballet Austin.

Armadillo’s Leap is located at 6266 U.S. 290 and 134 E. Main Street in Fredericksburg. For more information, visit armadillosleap.com.

Austin’s drinking events calendar, February 2017

Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. Throughout the month of February, part of the proceeds from taproom sales of the Zilker Coffee Milk Stout will go toward the Mother's Milk Bank at Austin. Plus, the brewery is hosting a chocolate pairing for Valentine's Day.
Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. Throughout the month of February, part of the proceeds from taproom sales of the Zilker Coffee Milk Stout will go toward the Mother’s Milk Bank at Austin. Plus, the brewery is hosting a chocolate pairing for Valentine’s Day.

“The Founder” Founders Beer Dinner, 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 1. The Alamo Drafthouse is screening the McDonald’s origin story, now in theaters, with a themed menu and pairings from Founders Brewing. $64.95.

Beer, Babies and Boobs at Zilker Brewing, 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 2. Drink Zilker’s Coffee Milk Stout to help out a good cause: Mother’s Milk Bank at Austin is getting a portion of the stout sales.

Dark Beer Competition at Stouthaus Coffee, 6 to 10 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 2. Come to the dark side with beers from breweries like Hops & Grain, Austin Beerworks and Adelbert’s.

Corner Bar Five Year Anniversary Party, 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 2. Friends & Allies Brewing, Thousand Oaks Brewing and others are helping kick off a whole weekend of anniversary festivities.

February First Friday at Infinite Monkey Theorem, 4 to 11 p.m. Friday, Feb. 3. Jam out to a silent disco provided by two live DJs – just don’t spill your glass of wine.

This month's First Friday Firkin at Uncle Billy's is the Crazy in Love, an imperial lager with cherries.
This month’s First Friday Firkin at Uncle Billy’s is the Crazy in Love, an imperial lager with cherries.

First Friday Firkin at Uncle Billy’s, 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 3. This month’s cask is Crazy in Love: the Crazy Day Imperial Lager with the addition of sweet dark cherries.

GoldRush Re-Release Party at Texas Keeper Cider, 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 4. This single varietal cider is returning, and Guadalajaran food will be on site for you to pair with it.

South Austin Brewery’s 3 Year Anniversary, 12 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4. A special anniversary beer, food trucks like Kebabalicious, and live music from Full Service Circus and more await at this big celebration.

Austin’s Hill Country Wine Tasting, 3 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4. Take this interactive tour of Texas wines (William Chris Vineyards, Perissos Vineyard & Winery, and more) paired with local bands at the Gatsby bar. $45-$80.

Half Step’s 3 Year Anniversary Party, 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4. Celebrate the birthday of one of Rainey Street’s most esteemed cocktail bars with Stiles Switch BBQ, live DJ music and ginger palomas.

Super Sunday at Treaty Oak Distilling, 2 to 10 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 5. Watch the Super Bowl at the ranch – and get a sneak peek of the distillery’s upcoming Ghost Hill restaurant.

Second Annual SOUPer Bowl Watch Party at Craftsman, 4 to 9 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 5. Several participating breweries will make a soup, stew, gumbo or chili using one of their beers, and you’ll vote on your favorite after tasting samples of each. Oh, and watch the game, too.

Super Bowl Party at Whitestone Brewery, 5 to 10 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 5. The Cedar Park brewery will have games, snacks, drink specials and a raffle benefiting Heroes Night Out, in addition to the big game playing on multiple screens.

Parkside Projects’ Beverage Series: Sherry, 6:30 to 10 p.m. Monday, Feb. 6. Learn about the different types of sherry, a fortified wine, at this class at the Spanish-focused Bullfight. $32.50.

Rosé Party at Irene’s, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 8. Relax on the patio with your first glass or bottle of rosé of the season. California-based Lorenza is also launching in Austin at this party.

How to Classic Cocktail Series at Craftsman, 7 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 8. Russell’s Reserve Bourbon is leading this class to demonstrate how to make an Old Fashioned, Manhattan and Boulevardier. $16.82.

Cat Mezcal Pairing Dinner at Coast, 7:30 to 10 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 8. Enjoy cocktail pairings with this special seafood dinner that will complement the flavor profiles of the mezcal. $69.57.

Ommegang Rosetta & Chocolate Pairing at Banger’s, 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9. Taste sweet cherry in this traditional Belgian kriek. The beer is being paired with Rosetta-infused chocolates.

Austin-Only Beer Release at Oskar Blues, 12 to 10 p.m. Friday, Feb. 10. Only available on draft at the taproom is the Parliament Dunkeldelic, a Munich-style dunkel.

Adelbert’s Passion Fruit Sour Release Party, 5 to 10 p.m. Friday, Feb. 10. Celebrate Adelbert’s new taproom-only bottle release by enjoying limited samples and taking home a bottle of your own.

Wine Tasting Lounge Opening at House Wine, 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 10. The new space will feature a rotating tasting menu of small-production wines, an exquisite bottle list and a seasonal tasting menu.

Fall Creek Vineyards’ Wine & Roses Valentine’s Day Luncheon, 12 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11. Enjoy a three-course lunch with Fall Creek wines at the Tow location of the winery. $35.95.

Rodolfo Gonzalez / American-Statesman. Fall Creek Vineyards is hosting a Valentine's lunch called Wine & Roses.
Rodolfo Gonzalez / American-Statesman. Fall Creek Vineyards is hosting a Valentine’s lunch called Wine & Roses.

Valentine’s Beer & Chocolate Pairing at Zilker Brewing, 6 to 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 12. The East Austin brewery is joining forces with another local business, Chocolaterie Tessa, to offer an evening of sweet pairings. $45.

Garrison Brothers Whiskey Dinner at NXNW Slaughter, 5:30 to 10 p.m. Monday, Feb. 13. Don’t miss this six-course feast with three special whiskeys and a barrel-aged beer collaboration with NXNW. $125.

The Craft Series at the Driskill, 6 to 9 p.m Monday, Feb. 13. The monthly beer dinner at the 1886 Cafe & Bakery will feature South Austin Brewery this time. Make reservations, but you won’t pay until after the meal. $40.

Valentine’s Mega Mutt Monday at Banger’s, 6 to 9 p.m. Monday, Feb. 13. This extra-romantic version of the dog-friendly event will have all-day happy hour, live music and a puppy kissing booth with Heart of Texas Lab Rescue.

Galentine’s Day at Infinite Monkey Theorem, 4 to 10 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 14. All ladies will receive 20 percent of their bar tabs, no matter whether you’re a raging cynic or a hopeless romantic.

What the Firkin? at Oskar Blues, 4 to 10 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 14. In honor of Valentine’s Day, Oskar Blues is releasing a cask of Old Chub Scotch Ale with cherries and chocolate added.

Beer and Chocolate Pairings at Mort Subite, 5 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 14. The Belgian beer bar is partnering with Crave Artisan Chocolate to provide a self-guided beer and chocolate feast on Valentine’s Day. $25.

Stone’s Arrogant Valentine’s Day at Banger’s, 7 to 11 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 14. Celebrate Stone Brewing’s 21st birthday and the day of love all in one go, with 21 Stone beers to choose from.

Cookies and Beer at the Whip In, 7 to 10 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 15. This sweet pairing will feature Girl Scout cookies and beer from Hops & Grain, AleSmith Brewing and Goose Island Brewing.

2nd Annual Sausage Kings of Austin, 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 16. At St. Elmo Brewing, several sausage purveyors will compete for your vote, while you sample their wares and two beers from St. Elmo. $26.

Vigilante Grand Opening, 4 to 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 17. The gaming bar is officially opening with free game rentals and other goodies – for real this time.

Strange Land Brewery’s 2nd Anniversary Party, 5 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18. Your $20 ticket will get you commemorative glassware, two full pours of any beer (including limited-release, small-batch stuff), a slice of beer cake and more.

Brews & Brunch at Hopfields, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 19. Sip on flights of beer like the (512) Brewing Cascabel Cream Stout with floaters of Chameleon Cold-Brew.

The Brewer’s Table Pop-Up at Austin Beeworks, 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 19. Taste the upcoming restaurant-brewery’s flagship Common Lager along with bar snacks.

First Crawfish Boil of 2017 at Infamous Brewing, 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 19. Stuff yourself silly with the tiny shellfish and Infamous beers. First batch of crawfish will be ready by 2 p.m.

Pappy Van Winkle Flight Nights at Easy Tiger, 5 to 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 20 and Tuesday, Feb. 21. Just 30 flights are available each day of bourbon like the 10 Year, 12 Year and 15 Year. $50.

Bellus Wines Free Happy Hour Tasting at Italic, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 21. Sommelier Jordan Salcito, founder of Bellus Wine and beverage director for Momofuku, is pouring three of his wines in the cafe.

How to Classic Cocktail Series at Craftsman, 7 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 22. The East Cesar Chavez Street’s boozy series continues with a workshop on making gin cocktails like a Negroni and French 75.

Barrel-Aged Stout Challenge at Waller Creek Pub House, 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23. Four competitors, including Oskar Blues with reigning champ BA Ten Fidy, are going head to head and hoping for your vote.

Spicewood Vineyards’ 9th Annual Pair It with the Claret Chili Cook-Off, 1 to 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25. Taste the different kinds of chili to decide which ones pairs best with Spicewood’s 2015 Cabernet Claret. $25.

Wine & Food Foundation of Texas’ Third Annual Roast & Toast, 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 26. Taste Texas Monthly’s Top Texas Wines of 2016 at the picturesque Stonehouse Villa. $60-$85.

Austin Beerworks Beer Dinner at Greenhouse Craft Food, 6:30 to 9 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 26. The Round Rock restaurant is offering another epic multi-course dinner with Austin Beerworks brews. $64.12.

Texas wineries dominate at prestigious California wine competition

Brennan Vineyards' 2015 Reserve Viognier won a best of class award at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.
Brennan Vineyards’ 2015 Reserve Viognier won a Best of Class award at the 2017 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

At the largest competition of American wines in the world, Texas wineries proved they can hold their own against some of the top wine producers in the country — taking home seven best-of-class awards for their wine and a total of 158 medals.

The only state that topped Texas’ unprecedented wins at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition was California. Texas taking second place overall, beating out lauded wine regions like Oregon, Washington and New York, is a well-earned victory for winemakers who have fought derisive perceptions of Texas wine since the 1970s.

“Texas wine may have reached a tipping point, in its development and national reputation, with the recently released results” of the wine competition, Pat Brennan, owner of Brennan Vineyards in the Hill Country, said.

One of his wines, Brennan Vineyards’ 2015 Reserve Viognier, won a Best of Class award, while two others, the 2015 Roussanne and the 2014 Tempranillo, got gold medals. (Best of Class tops gold as the highest honor to receive.) Brennan’s and other Texas wines were up against more than 7,000 wines from 28 states, all tasted blind by a panel of 60 wine experts. There were more than 100 categories for the wines to be entered into.

Brennan noted that California winemakers earned accolades in the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition for their chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon wines — two French varietals that the Pacific Coast state typically dominates at making.

Texas winemakers, however, have discovered their niche elsewhere: in more warm-weather varietals such as tempranillo from Spain, which has a climate similar to ours. These often lesser-known grapes, coupled with Texas terroir, are helping to cement Texas’ status as a wine region that can compete with the best. For winemakers like Brennan, that’s been a long time coming.

“Unfortunately, many Texans do not realize the some of the best wine in the United States is made right here in the Lone Star State,” he said. “We hope more and more people will ask for Texas wine at their favorite restaurants, visit Texas wineries and pick up a bottle at local retailers.”

Here are the seven Best of Class winners:

  • Brennan Vineyards 2015 Reserve Viognier
  • Haak Vineyards & Winery Tempranillo 2015
  • Los Pinos Ranch Vineyards Sweet Blush Colibri
  • Messina Hof Winery Merlot 2015
  • Perissos Vineyards & Winery Dolcetto 2015
  • Trilogy Cellars Malbec 2015
  • Wedding Oak Winery Sweet Alyssum 2015 (white blend)

The Texas International Wine Competition debuts this month

Wine experts from around the world will judge at the first Texas International Wine Competition held in Austin Nov. 18-19.
Erika Rich for American-Statesman. Wine experts from around the world will judge at the first Texas International Wine Competition held in Austin Nov. 18-19.

Many people in the Texas wine industry now believe that the wines are good enough to compete on the world stage — to the point that one woman has now created the Texas International Wine Competition.

The inaugural event debuts Nov. 18 and 19, when some of wine’s most esteemed experts will swarm to Austin to taste Texas-made wines alongside offerings from France, Italy, Argentina and other countries, as well as other U.S. states.

“If a Texas winery can take best-in-class — which is like a hole-in-one in golf — for Cabernet Sauvignon at the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition, that tells you the magnitude of talent of Texas winemakers,” the organizer of the Texas competition, Bonnie Villacampa, said. “The vision they had in New York was to bring awareness to the Finger Lakes region there, so I believe that this competition will do the same thing here for the Texas wine industry. I totally believe that.”

She decided to create a competition here after serving as a judge at the Finger Lakes competition for more than 10 years. That event was created 16 years ago, and it has since become one of the foremost authorities on wine around the globe. Last year, more than 3,700 entries from 48 states and 20 countries were judged by 72 professional wine judges from 18 countries, according to the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition.

The Texas International Wine Competition, taking place at the Vine Vault downtown, is starting much more modestly but with an impressive 500 wines slated for the judging, a blind tasting. Villacampa chose the Vine Vault as the location because the company stores the wine collections of local aficionados at optimal temperatures and also has a space for events.

“Something that is really important about this competition is that I wanted the wines to be handled carefully, to rest a little prior to being judged,” Villacampa said. “The biggest problem with this business is heat and wine getting heated up too much. High temperatures just completely cook the wine. That’s why it’s being held at the Vine Vault, where bottles are kept at 55 degrees.”

Like the Finger Lakes competition, the Texas one doubles as a charity fundraiser and will, this year, raise money for Variety’s Peaceable Kingdom Retreat for Children.

Following the competition on Nov. 19 is the 1st Annual Texas International Wine and Food Festival, which she enlisted the Rotary Club of Kyle to help create at the National Hispanic Institute in nearby Maxwell. The evening festival will have award-winning wines, food samples from Central Texas restaurants, live music from the Keith Kelso Band and Doug Moreland, and a live and silent auction. It’s also for a good cause: Proceeds will benefit Hope & Love 4 Kids, a children’s nonprofit that serves Hays County.

The festival is the only part of the weekend opened to the public. To get tickets to the fest, which are $75 per person or $500 for VIP passes per couple, visit txiwff.com.

Winners of the competition will be announced on Nov. 22.

How to make the most of Texas Wine Month

Shelby Tauber / American-Statesman. During Texas Wine Month, check out wineries like William Chris Vineyards in the Hill Country.
Shelby Tauber / American-Statesman. During Texas Wine Month, check out wineries like William Chris Vineyards in the Hill Country.

It’s pretty simple: Texas Wine Month, also known as October, is the time to go out and explore Texas wine, whether that’s at a bar or restaurant, your own home or at the wineries in the Hill Country themselves.

Wineries like Spicewood Vineyards, Duchman Family Winery, Fall Creek Vineyards and Bending Branch Winery are consistently good bets as both wines to pick up and places to check out during day trips.

If you’re looking to go out and explore them and approximately 50 other wineries that dot the Hill Country landscape, the Texas Wine Month Trail is a guaranteed good time. It runs through Oct. 31 and is easy to do.

Just purchase a ticket ($40 for individuals, $70 for couples) on the Texas Hill Country Wineries website, and you’ll be able to visit any of the participating wineries during their tasting room hours. The tickets include a free sampling of their wines and a 15 percent discount on three bottle purchases — though you can’t visit more than four wineries per day.

Here are some other events that individual wineries will be offering throughout the month.

The Texas Chocolate & Wine Experience at 4.0 Cellars: Chocolate truffles paired with wines from 4.0 Cellars (a fourth winery from McPherson Cellars, Brennan Vineyards and Lost Oak Winery)? That sounds hard to resist but is fortunately available Monday-Friday at selected times; just make a reservation at least 24 hours in advance.

Friday Night Flights at Fall Creek Vineyards: The winery’s Driftwood location regularly has this tasting from 4 to 7 p.m. Fridays as a way to kick off your weekend. You can enjoy flights of either red wines or white wines, many of them award winners.

Library Tastings at Becker Vineyards: One of Texas’ oldest wineries highlights the best of its wines with this intimate look at Becker. The event includes a behind-the-scenes tour of the production area and will conclude with a wine-and-cheese pairing. Sold yet? The tasting is $60 ($50 if you’re a wine club member); make an appointment for an upcoming Saturday at 1 p.m. The Library Tastings were put on hold during harvest but have returned for Texas Wine Month.

The Wine & Food Foundation of Texas’ A Taste of Texas Fine Wine. Members of the Texas Fine Wine group will be presenting a diverse array of their wines at this discussion led by Spicewood Vineyards’ Ron Yates, whose winery is one of the group participants. Tickets for this Oct. 12 event range between $35-$45 in price.

Texas Wine & Bites at Dine: This free Oct. 13 tasting at the Radisson Hotel’s restaurant on East Cesar Chavez Street will have wines from Bending Branch Winery, Brennan Vineyards, Duchman Family Winery, Pedernales Cellars and Spicewood Vineyards, with Texas-centric appetizers from chefs David Garrido and Justin Mowery. Make sure to RSVP ahead of time.

For Texas Wine Month, enjoy a dinner with the Texas Fine Wine wineries at Spicewood Vineyards on Oct. 14.
For Texas Wine Month, enjoy a dinner with the Texas Fine Wine wineries at Spicewood Vineyards on Oct. 14.

3rd Annual Texas Fine Wine Dinner: Spicewood Vineyards is hosting this $80 Oct. 14 feast with four courses featuring flavors of the Texas Hill Country and wines from Spicewood, Brennan Vineyards, Pedernales Cellars, Duchman Family Winery and Bending Branch Winery.

Fiesta Winery’s 6th Year Celebration: It’s time to party with this Bend-located winery, which is having food trucks, live music and dancing — and wine, of course — to herald six years of Fiesta. Tickets are only $10, and Fiesta wine club members can bring up to three guests for free.

Singing Water Vineyards’ Fall Festival: Love autumn? The Comfort-area winery is throwing the fest for you. Singing Waters will have two days of live music, food and an art show starting at 11:30 a.m. Oct. 22 and ending 6 p.m. Oct. 23.

Holiday Wine Release at Pedernales Cellars: The winery founders like to celebrate the Swedish they’ve added to their family tree, so they’ve got Glögg, traditional mulled wine, available at Pedernales and sister winery Armadillo’s Leap starting well in advance of the holiday rush. Pick up a bottle or two of the tempranillo-based wine starting Oct. 22.

Old Vine Petite Sirah Vertical Tasting: Bending Branch Winery’s Branch on High has a special tasting for fans of this red wine. It’s one of the few varietals that the winery has made in every vintage since 2008, and you’ll be able to try vintages 2008-2013 as well as a 2008 Port-Style Petite Sirah. The Oct. 22 vertical is $45.

Halloween Costume Contest at Torre di Pietra: Halloween might be on a Monday this year, but you can bring out your costume early for this “spooktacular” party on Oct. 29. There will be prizes for the best ones, as well as live music from the Shelley King Band, wood-fired pizzas and wines by the glass or bottle.

Halloween Masquerade Ball at Messina Hof Hill Country Winery: Elegant yet spooky — what more could you want from a masquerade ball at a winery? The night will start with a three-course dinner paired with Messina Hof wines, followed by spooky Halloween music for dancing and a masquerade mask contest. The Oct. 29 party has tickets for $80.

Duchman Family Winery celebrates 10-year anniversary

Photo by Jay Janner / American-Statesman. Duchman Family Winery, an ode to Mediterranean wine and culture, remains a day trip destination 10 years in.
Photo by Jay Janner / American-Statesman. Duchman Family Winery, an ode to Mediterranean wine and culture, remains a day trip destination 10 years in.

One of the Texas Hill Country’s best wineries is toasting to a milestone birthday this month.

Duchman Family Winery, located in a picturesque Tuscan villa-like building, has spent the past 10 years making wine from Texas-grown grapes and remaining faithful to Italian varietals — two hallmarks of the winery that the owners and winemaker plan to continue doing in the future.

“I can’t believe we’re already celebrating our 10-year anniversary,” proprietor Dr. Stan Duchman said in a press release. “We simply had a passion to bring fine, authentic wine to the Central Texas area, and it’s amazing how much it has grown.”

He and his wife, Lisa, turned over the winemaking to Dave Reilly in 2009, who kept the focus on signature varietals like trebbiano, vermentino, sangiovese, dolcetto, montepulciano and aglianico. They are marking the milestone with a sold-out wine dinner at Duchman, located at 13308 FM 150 in Driftwood, on Friday.

Last October, we featured Duchman Family Winery in a story about seven Hill Country wineries that are taking Texas wines to the world stage. Here’s what we had to say about them:

When Duchman Family Winery winemakers Mark Penna and Dave Reilly — who took over the program a couple years before Penna died in 2011 — were approached with the then-unheard of mission of focusing on Texas-grown Italian varietals, they took on the challenge with gusto. They’d been swayed by Stan and Lisa Duchman, who started up the winery in 2004 after a love affair with the wine-heavy culture of Italy.

Penna, followed by Reilly, let the award-winning wines speak for themselves. Reilly now finds vermentino, montepulciano and aglianico and Duchman’s other Mediterranean varietals to be the future of Texas wines, and general manager Jeff Ogle couldn’t agree more.

“Aglianico is the varietal with the most potential in Texas, although a lot of people say it’s tempranillo,” he says, noting that Reilly has helped to build likely the largest crop of aglianico outside of Italy.

Duchman’s fierce focus on Italy carries over to the winery building itself, a stately stone-and-stucco structure mirroring a Tuscan villa. Its scenic, almost otherworldly design has made it the location of many Hill Country weddings. And it’s also right next door to an Italian restaurant, Trattoria Lisina, for an easy wine-and-dine day trip.