I woke up on the small end of my cousin Michael’s couch, sat up and stretched out. Michael is the second oldest cousin of mine and the oldest of his siblings. When I was ten, Michael was 15 and as far as I can remember he hung around my brother mostly and I spent my time with his two sisters, Leslie and Lee Ellen. All three of these kids definitely got the creative genes in the family; the youngest, Ellen, is in a band and recently got a Fulbright Scholarship to teach English in Germany (she’s fluent (I’m pretty sure) in German too). I see Leslie every year at Thanksgiving and she is usually talking about her awesomely painted car with a chalk board on the back that people can draw on, and the sculptures she makes out of bottle caps and candy wrappers. And Michael - as soon as we walked into Michael’s apartment he had a series of small wooden dowels built up into a Fibonacci Sequence
just for the fun of doing it. Like I said, this is the gifted side of our family.
So as I was saying - I woke up and stretched out, got up and was about ready to jump in the shower when Tom brought over a note Michael left for us. It said “Looking for good breakfast?”
"Why, yes we are" I thought and read on.
“Try Kerbey Lane Café on Kerbey Lane 10 min walk from here food is awesome J -Mike.” We headed over to Kerbey Lane where we found this café. We were on the way to the Texas Wine Trail down route 290 so the boys fortified themselves with a hearty breakfast each. I had some chicken tortilla soup with tortilla chips because I was feeling a little under the weather and wasn’t thinking a few sips of wine would require a stomach full of potatoes to handle.
We headed off to the first winery on the trial which was the Texas Hills Vineyard
after our lovely meal. We were met by a very pleasant woman who was extremely helpful in getting us ready for a day of tastings. She gave us each a Texas Winery Passport and told us to get a stamp and a code number from each winery we visited that day. If we filled up the passport and went to a website to put in the information from the different wineries we would get a free gift. She didn’t know exactly what the gift would be but it was all an effort by the Texas Tourism Board to get more people to visit Texas wineries.
We each admitted we had no idea Texas had a wine trail let alone made wine until we arrived in Austin and she said that was typical - no one really paid attention to Texas wine because it seemed so out of place for the region. She also mentioned that because Texas is so dry and hot that they really don’t make sweet wine (which was what we had mostly found in New York State) but instead they have a lot of dryer wines. Joey and I are big fans of dry wines, but Tom was a little out of luck today, most of the wines we tasted were dry and even the sweet ones were erring on the dryer side. We tried a few whites and reds from her list, thanked her for the passports and area map and headed off to the next winery.
We pulled up to Woodrose Winery
, walked up their pretty pathway and headed in for a taste. We had similar experiences from Woodrose to Pedernales Cellars
to Becker Vineyards
and Torre di Pietra Vineyards
. Each had dryer wines rather than sweet and each attributed that to the dry hot climate. Each stamped and coded our passports and each were delicious in their own right.
Around the middle of this string of wineries we met a very friendly, very chatty woman originally from Ohio who got talking to us about the Texas region we were in. We bought some tasty Salmon spread and crackers which I all but devoured (that tortilla soup wasn’t the best to hold me for a whole tasting day as it turned out). She was very interested in the fact that we had gone to see Joel Osteen and found our travel story very interesting. Hope you’re still reading!
We winded down route 290 and neared Fredericksburg which was the end of the trail. It was nearing closing time for most of the wineries, but we were in time to stop at one more. At the Fredericksburg Winery we were met with a sort of grumpy older man who begrudgingly served us the small glasses of wine, annoyed at our general lack of knowledge of the different kinds. He kept making asides to Tom about how Joey and I were know-nothing wine drinkers which put me in a foul mood. I left with a scowl on my face but as soon as we got back to Michael’s and he suggested an awesome Tex-Mex place for dinner I was all smiles again.
It was getting near sunset so Michael suggested we go check out the Austin Bats before eating so we didn’t miss them. Watching the bats is nightly tradition here in Austin - there is one bridge in particular that is built in such a way that the bats have made a home between the bridge and the road, and every night at sunset they fly out from underneath out into the night to feed.
We waited around the top of the bridge and watched all the kayakers floating in the water below, all of the people gathered on a grassy spot by the edge of the water, and everyone on the bridge with us checking their watches waiting for the famous spectacle to ensue. Finally the sun sank low enough for the bats to take their cue.
A steady stream maybe two feet across came from the far right side of the bridge. Michael told me that he had never seen so many at once - I guess we brought good luck with us. After awhile the bats started coming from the middle of the bridge, and then from over to our left as well. They flew in columns and arched across the fading sunlit sky. Impressed but hungry we made our way towards the Tex-Mex place Michael had suggested and we had an amazing meal.
We headed back to Michael’s stuffed full and lay around on his couch a little bit more watching cartoons on his projector screen. I said my good-byes early because we had a crazy plan for the night. Joey wanted to get to Carlsbad Caverns which was a nine-hour drive from Austin so had suggested driving through the night. We thanked Michael for the use of his couch, slept until around midnight then headed to the car for the long drive west.
Thanks a million Michael, we had a great time in Austin!
Until next time America.