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You Don’t Need To Go To Napa

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Texas Wines are becoming more well known. The Hill Country is alive with visitors from Austin to Connecticut. And these travelers have many choices, actually 21 of them.
As a beginning wine connoisseur, I have knowledge not extensive, but I know how to swirl, to smell, to taste. I forget what I learned about light and legs, I just know the colors are often clear and bright.
Since it’s Texas Wine Month, Texas Wine Trail has a deal for $30, a person can go visit, and taste 21 wineries in the Hill Country. An awesome deal for a great price. So I bought two, one for me and one as a very early Christmas present for my boyfriend.
So Saturday morning we set out for Fredericksburg, knowing we couldn’t make all 21 in one day. We began our wine journey at Grape Creek Vineyards, where owner Jackson, served us 6 wines. All of which, my boyfriend and I loved. One of my favorites was the Fume Blanc, a white wine that tastes of honeydew and pears. Most wines are under $20.
Next was Torre di Pietra, where the woman tried to sell us tastings, albeit the pass allowed us at least one tasting. This did not bode well with the boyfriend and I. The only one that stood out was the Classico, a red blend that would go well with lamb or beef.
Just a mile down the road was Woodrose Winery, a still constructing vineyard that serves restaurant style? Confusion did ensue. Again, they tried to sell us a tasting before taking in account our trail pass, but we sat down at the iron table outside to be served. We looked at the menu and saw only a cheese and cracker plate. Now if you tell a customer that you are going to be served restaurant style, one might assume that you will have more than a cheese plate, like one customer asked.
Then we turned around and headed towards Becker Vineyards, which wines have won awards like Chairman’s Best of Class for a 2005 Chardonnay. Here we were able to try 4 wines, all reserves and older that 2005. We tried a 2002 Reserve Merlot that was good, but the best wine was most definitely the 2004 Vintage Port, that literally rolled off our tongues and had us salivating for more.
After tasting the Port, we contemplated our options. We could head south to Comfort, there were three wineries down there. We could head west and go to 2 more near Fredericksburg. We could head north to 10 other wineries. But we decided west was the option and then maybe we would head south.
So 9 miles west of Fredericksburg, we visited Chisholm Trail Winery, which is located back on a small road. A total of three cars were outside, but when we went in we were the only customers. The woman behind the counter informed us that we could try one wine with our passes. It was a little off putting considering it was the farthest west winery and not easily found.
With it being the farthest West, we headed back East into town and stopped at Fredericksburg Winery located in the town. It is one of the few wineries in Texas that diabetics can drink because it has no added sugar. Owner Jene Switzers was our wine guide through almost 12 wines. He is a very magnetic, outgoing man that quickly names several dishes to every wine a customer tries. Even though the wines we tried may not be there, when someone else visits because they sell out and new ones are made.
So what wineries do I recommend…. Grape Creek Vineyards, Becker Vineyards, and Fredericksburg Winery, and if you’re heading out there go to Fredericksburg’s last to end on a high note.

Wild Mushroom and Goat Cheese Quesadillas with Cranberry-Pecan Salsa
Rebecca’s Table and Rather Sweet Bakery and Cafe, Fredericksburg, Tx

Paired with Stonehouse Vineyard Claros 2005

Salsa
1/2 cup whole pecans
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 cups fresh or thawed frozen cranberries
1 shallot, slice
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Arrange pecans on rimmed baking sheet in a single layer and toast them in the oven for 7 to 9 minutes until deeper brown and aromatic. Transfer to bowl, let cool, and coarsely chop.
In a food processor, combine vinegar, olive oil, sugar, mustard, orange zest, orange juice, salt and pepper. Process until thoroughly combined about 30 seconds. Make sure to combine the vinaigrette before adding the fruit. The mixture becomes cloudy and less attractive if you process all ingredients at once.
Add the cranberries, shallots, and jalapeno, and pulse until the cranberries are coarsely chopped. Pour the salsa into a medium bowl, cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Quesadillas

1/2 up (1 stick) butter
1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 pounds mixed wild and commercial mushrooms
1 pound button or cremini mushrooms, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2/3 cup dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
8 8-inch flour tortillas
2 cups (8-ounce) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
3 cups (15 ounces) crumbled fresh goat cheese

In a large saute pan, melt the butter over medium-heat, add onion and saute for 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms, garlic, salt, and Worchestershire and saute for about 5 minutes. Add the white wine and pepper, cooking the mushrooms until liquid is absorbed, at least 5 minutes.
While the mushrooms cook, coat a griddle or large skillet with cooking spray and heat over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium. Lay 2 tortillas on the griddle or in the skilled and cover each with 1/4 cup of Monterey jack. Evenly spread about 1/3 cup of the mushroom mixture on one half of each tortilla and cover the mushrooms mixture evenly with a thin layer of crumbled goat cheese. Use a metal spatula to fold each tortilla in half and cook until lightly brown and crisp on the bottom. Flip and cook until brown on the other side. Transfer to plate in a warm oven. Repeat with the rest of tortillas.

Cut each folded tortilla into 3 wedges and serve warm or at room temperature, with salsa.

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