Austin Urban Gardens

Raised Bed Gardening and Eating Well in Austin, Texas

Day Trip to Driftwood, Texas – Unexpected Beauty April 1, 2011

A friend and I had been plotting a day trip to get out of the city and breathe in some country air and relax a bit.  Half of the day got away from us, leaving not much time to explore too far afield.  So, being lunch time when we finally got launched, we headed out to the Salt Lick for some bar-b-que.  Not my favorite in town, but I had been hearing about their Vineyard and wanted to explore.  So after lunch, we walked over to the Tasting Room and bought a tasting of 5 wines for $5 each.    Most were Texas wines, and they were also sampling Gruet sparkling wine from New Mexico.  There was a Salt Lick Red, not yet estate wine, as their grapes are young.  The theme for the afternoon was set – we would continue tasting wines.

So, next we headed to Mandola Winery, which has been purchased by Duchman, although some 2008 vintages still bear the old Mandola Wine Label.  Located on FM 150, the Duchman Winery is next to the gorgeous Italian Villa style Trattoria Lisina.  The restaurant/winery compound is lovely, and is surrounded by pastures filled with grapevines.  It is clear that Damien Mandola spared no expense on these facilities.

Duchman Winery Entrance

Trattoria Lisina

Duchman Winery

The interior of the winery boasts a nice and roomy tasting room, and long halls with windows looking into the wine storage facility, and bottling facility.  The long hall is adorned with some really interesting artwork.

We tasted mostly the dry reds – I don’t drink much white wine and really don’t like the sweeter wines.  We left with two bottles of the Aglianico, and 2 of the Dolcetto, to be divided up later.

We headed out, aimed for no where in particular and passed a sign for Driftwood Estate Winery.  I hadn’t heard of this winery, and said we should skip it.  Thankfully, I lost that battle and we headed up a seemingly long, caliche drive that went on and on.  We pulled up to a pedestrian looking building, and I was underwhelmed. But, I thought I could see a view off in the distance, and people were sitting in chairs, drinking wine, looking out toward something.  I headed that way, and when I got to the edge there was this view:

View from Driftwood Estate Vineyards

What my novice photographs don’t really show, is the drop from where I was standing, to this pasture down below.  Like we were on a small mountain.  I felt like I was in another state.  A pristine pasture filled with goats grazing, and little ones chasing after their mothers.  It was such an unexpected surprise.  The view to the right of the goat pasture:

Another view from Driftwood Vineyards

Delicious Rose

And inside, I tasted the dry reds again, but also this Rose.  We left with two bottles of this one, which will be perfect for a hot summer afternoon.  I was taken by its rich color.  As we tasted, we chatted with folks from other cities, much farther away than Austin, and used the buzz words “fruit foward” and “well balanced”, so as not to be taken for complete wine novices.    And we felt clever and for a few hours, at least, like we had played hooky from responsibility and really gotten away with something.  And it was a good day.


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