Today I’m going to share with you my experience visiting Heath Sparkling Wines in Fredericksburg, Texas.
This one was an interesting visit in that I really didn’t get to make any tasting notes. Normally, when visiting a vineyard I learn about the grapes, tour the grounds and hear stories about how the owners started their work in the wine industry. Due to so many new rules and regulations during this pandemic the tasting wasn’t quite the experience that I would have gotten if I had arrived on any other given day. While there, I was hoping to learn some tips about tasting sparkling wines and there were a few additional questions that I had. However, the tasting felt rushed, there weren’t any tours and there wasn’t any history or sparkling wine tips given during the tasting. I literally took a sip, took a bite, sipped again and moved on.
Although this pandemic has created a form of chaos in the wine industry, I am all about making the most of my experience. What I did enjoy were the delicious pairings, the friendliness of the staff, the beauty of the courtyard, and the quietness of sipping my sparkling wine near the water fountain. And most of all, I enjoyed who I shared this experience with.
The tasting consisted of four sparkling wines accompanied with four delicious pairings created by their Chef. Each tasting was delicious but my favorite wine and favorite pairing was the Blanc de Blancs paired with a Watermelon Feta Salad.
All in all, although times have changed, that doesn’t mean that your spirit and joy have to as well. Make each day count. Cherish those special moments that you have with your loved ones while you can. And most of all: KEEP SMILING! In the meantime, I look forward to returning and discovering more of what Heath Sparkling Wines has to offer.
XOXO, Smiling Danny, Salu’d
To My Fellow Smileys and Wine Enthusiasts,
During this time of chaos and panic; let’s remember to support our local wineries and small businesses. So many businesses and families are being affected in ways that transcend the virus itself. So if you can, spend local and shop local. Below is a list of Texas wineries that are offering wine discounts, curbside service, free delivery, shipping services and virtual wine classes. Check out their websites to get additional information on the service(s) they are offering.
- Fall Creek Vineyards
- 18059 Farm to Market Road 1826; Driftwood, TX 78619
- Curbside Pick-up, Free Delivery (6+ bottles)
- Farmhouse Vineyard
- Reddy Vineyards
Fort Worth, TX
- Lost Oak Winery
- 8101 County Rd 802; Burleson, TX 76028
- Curbside Pick-up, Delivery, Virtual Tasting, Virtual Tour, Virtual Pairings
- Grape Creek Vineyards
- 10587 E US Highway 290; Fredricksburg, TX 78624
- 10% off discount (non-members), Free Shipping (3+ bottles), Online Ordering, 25% off Wine Club Membership, Wine Club Pick-up
- Heath Sparkling Wines
- 10591 E US, US 290; Fredricksburg, TX 78624
- 10% off discount (non-members), Free Shipping (3+ bottles), Online Ordering, Wine Club Pick-up
- Burklee Hill Vineyards
- English Newsom Cellars
New Braunfels, TX
San Antonio, TX
- High Street Wine Co.
- 302 Pearl Parkway; Unit 4; San Antonio, TX 78215
- Online Ordering, Curbside Pick-up, Delivery, Virtual Tastings, Virtual Classes
- Sister Creek Vineyards
I’m sure there are many more wineries that are offering services but these are the ones that I know of thus far. If you know of any more that you would like me to add, feel free to comment below or on Instagram.
Stay Safe and Salu’d!
XOXO, Smiling Danny
This month I was afforded a wonderful opportunity to sample some of English Newsom Cellars’ newly released wines. I was asked to think of some pairings that would compliment the wines and I joyously and humbly accepted the task. After tasting the wines, I made notes of pairings that came to mind and then I came home and tried out my ideas. After reviewing my notes and pairing my suggestions, the pairing menu below came alive and created a culinary experience on our palates.
Wine: White Gold, 2018
Pairing: Prosciutto and Havarti Cheese
- I feel a creamy cheese would pair well with this wine. The green apple notes of the wine create a prosciutto, havarti cheese and apple slice hors d’oeuvre on the palate.
Wine: Dry Muscat, 2018
Pairing: Bacon Wrapped Apricot (dried apricots)
- The savoryness of the bacon and the sweetness of the apricot remind me of sweet and sour pork (Texas-Style). This is a common Asian dish as English Newsom recommends pairing this wine with Asian dishes. This wine also compliments the different textures of the appetizer. The sweetness of the apricot balances out the dryness of the muscat and plays on the bouquet of apricots in the nose.
Wine: Red Italian Blend, 2017
Pairing: Milk Chocolate Covered Almonds
- The wine and the almonds provide a caramel component, creating a nice dessert or after dinner gourmet chocolate. Milk chocolate pairs better with this wine. A dark or an Intense dark may overpower the hint of smoke in the wine.
Wine: Tempranillo, 2017
Pairing: Dark Chocolate and Marshmallow
- This pairing reminds me of a campfire smore or a roasted/toasted marshmallow. The deep smoke notes of the wine create not only a pleasurable taste on the palate but an experience of camping or sitting around a campfire enjoying a smore. Should we add a graham cracker? No, it will just take away. These textures mesh well together and provide an experience or reminiscent memory.
Thank you, once again, to English Newsom for having me out and allowing me to lead my first wine pairing class. I enjoyed meeting everyone that came out and look forward to seeing you again and meeting new faces. For those of you who didn’t get to make it out, I hope you try out these pairings, you will love them. This was a fun experience and as mentioned in my last post; it’s all trial and error. Just jump right in and enjoy yourself.
XOXO, Smiling Danny
PS: All of these appetizers I created with items purchased from my local grocer. But if you want to know the exact brands I used, they are listed below:
United Supermarkets, Boar’s Head Prosciutto and Harvarti Cheese, Kraft Marshmallows and Hershey dark chocolate chips
This weekend I thought I would end the month with a visit to a new winery. So I researched around and found a winery in Midland, Texas.
I arrived at Texas Sun Winery located in this nice and new shopping/eatery strip. The inside was gorgeous; styled in a pueblo type architecture with the feel of a bistro. There they bottle their wine onsite and they also infuse some of their wines with fruit. The food was delicious as they have several flatbreads, panini’s, salads and charcuterie boards. However, the wine….. Well, my guest opted in for their Red Wine flight and I tried a White Cranberry Sangria. The Sangria was a Pinot Gris infused with white cranberry. It was very sweet. Had I known, I would have paired it with one of their flatbreads instead of ordering the Turkey, Brie and Jam Panini. The sight was bubbly and cloudy and the taste was silky, sweet and very light. This was a white wine of course.
The Red Wine flight consisted of five one ounce pours. Usually, when trying wine the Sommelier will pour the wine and tell you a little bit about it. Here they just poured the wine and walked off. You are lucky if you get to hear the name of the wine as they walk away. They do have a wine packet with the names of all of their wines and a little description about the wine but you would have to flip through the stack of papers to learn a little bit about it. I asked one of the Sommeliers where do they source their grapes from, she replied: “all over.” As I browsed through the guide I saw wines from New Zealand, Ohio and California so let’s just say I’m a little confused about their whole wine preparing and bottling process. I attempted to take notes on the flight but like I said I didn’t get to hear the names of the wines we tasted. One of the wines smelled like butterscotch with notes of vanilla and spice. It would have been nice to take a bottle with us but they decided to close early to celebrate their one year anniversary so I was on a time crunch.
Would I go again? Hmmmmm, maybe. I think if you are looking for a venue to meet up with friends, eat something lite but filling, and sip on wine then this is a nice establishment. However, since they have a wine club, I expected a little bit more education during my wine tasting. Their menu looked delicious and they had a nice selection of wines just wished I could have learned a little bit more about their wines and their winery.
Thank you Smileys for your continuous support! Cheers to two years of blog posts.
Salu’d, XOXO, Smiling Danny
This Mother’s Day, I had the privilege of visiting English Newsom Cellars in Lubbock, Tx. Formerly known as Caprock Winery, English Newsom has made its own mark with wines produced there on the Estate and sourced from Hockley County. I truly loved my visit as the Sommelier’s, Production Manager, Wine Maker and English Family made me feel like a QUEEN. It was my very first visit and I wasn’t even a club member but they made me feel just as special.
I ended up doing a six taste wine tasting and hubby did also. We both got six different wines that way we could try twelve. After I requested the six taste, I immediately regretted it remembering that the last time I did that all the wines began tasting alike and my body felt awful. I didn’t say anything to the Sommelier because she already began our pour. What really impressed me with this tasting is that my body didn’t feel awful at all and I was able to pick up the notes on each individual wine. I was so surprised! I also enjoyed that these wines were not heavy on the Oak; I think that’s what usually makes my body feel crummy when doing more than four. I mentioned to the staff how I usually can’t taste more than four wines at a time but here I was able to pick up the notes on all twelve. They were so happy that I mentioned that because they work very hard to make sure that the Oak does not overpower the grape.
My two favorite wines were:
- Flirt: This is a Blush Table Wine rated Double Gold Best of Class by the San Francisco Chronicle. It has notes of Cotton Candy and Strawberry Sour Punch Straws.
- Spider Rock: This is a Cabernet aged in a bourbon barrel for five years. It’s a Port with Notes of German Chocolate Cake ( and I mean EVERY SINGLE LAYER- From the Coconut to the Chocolate, Pecans and Sweet Buttered Milk Icing (not buttermilk). It also has Notes of Raisin, Whisky and Bourbon.
**Both of these are Fan Favorites. Also Google Spider Rock Treasure, Haskell County.**
As you can see, I had a great time at English Newsom Cellars and of the twelve wines that we tasted, I can’t say that there was one that I didn’t enjoy and that is very rare. So, if you are ever in Lubbock, Texas stop by and tell’ em Smiling Danny sent you and shoot me a note sharing with me your experience.
Happy Mother’s Day, XOXO, Smiling Danny
I hope that you had a wonderful month last month, I sure did as hubby and I celebrated 10 years of marriage. As part of our anniversary festivities, we took a trip to Hye, TX and visited William Chris Vineyards. We had such a wonderful time!
Once we arrived at William Chris we were welcomed with a glass of their Pe’tillant Nature’l. This was a nice refreshing glass of Rose’. It had notes of grapefruit that wasn’t overbearing and had a nice effervescence that cooled us off in the Texas heat. Next, we were escorted to the tasting room where we were able to taste six of their wines.
This month, I thought I would share with you notes on three of the wines that I enjoyed during the tasting. Yes, only three, that way, when you go you will have your own fresh experience.
- 2017 Mary Ruth: This is a blend of Malvasia Bianca, Muscat Blanc and Blanc du Bois. You can enjoy it as an apertif or with a good book. Mary Ruth is a light, dry white wine with an aroma and notes of peach. She has a hint of sweetness but finishes with a subtle acidity.
- 2017 Roussanne: Bouquet- Crisp, Light, Hint of Raisin and Cobbler. Taste- Sweet, Butter, Prune with a nice acidity.
- 2017 Malbec Rose’: This wine is special because it was aged in concrete. The Rose’ can also be enjoyed as an apertif with notes of strawberry and cherry and very little acidity.
I truly enjoyed my time at this Vineyard. There is so much history associated with the wines, the vineyard and even the uniqueness of the wine label. I encourage you to visit and tell ’em Smiling Danny sent ya! (not sponsored).
It was our goal to visit several wineries while in Hye but I recommend that you visit one winery at a time that way you can truly experience the wine and pick up on the distinct notes of each one.
Happy Tasting, XOXO Smiling Danny