October 2nd, 1982, a day that I must remember! It is the day I was married to my loving and tolerant wife. I have never missed the proper response to that date but I did forget her Birthday many years ago. My mother-in-law bailed my out by whispering into my ear the key words, “Did you forget Kathy’s Birthday?” Joan is such a sweet woman and there was an immediate moment of silence on my part followed by a lame attempt to cover my faux pas. My wife doesn’t hold a grudge for very long. That is very fortunate for me, otherwise my visits to the dog house would run into a life sentence without the possibility for parole. Thanks Hun…. I know she reads my blogs so I like to let her know that I appreciate her tolerance for my bonehead actions.
Off toward Galveston on Tuesday the second celebrating 31 years of marriage. Kathy wanted to know where we were going but I told her it was a surprise. Not sure that put her at ease because, I have taken her off the beaten path and well into the weeds too many times. Like I mentioned before, she tolerates me and my few faults. I did let her know that we were “Galveston Bound”. I took exit 15 on southbound I-45 and the dog racing track loomed in our path. “Is that where we are going?,” she asked. “No, but it could be fun sometime in the future,” I responded. “No, we are heading to the little town of Santa Fe,” I told her.
After the third turn she spotted a sign for Haak Winery. She looked over at me and smiled. She now knew where we were going. Some of you may be wondering why I am blogging about wine, please trust me, I will bring the beer connection in soon. We arrived not long after soaking downpour had passed and the air was warm and humid……neither of was surprised by that fact!
The Winery has a nice little gift shop, tasting counter for probably 8 or so and a window into the processing area. They were bottling that afternoon and it restricted access for much of the tour we didn’t take. We decided to just sample and converse. At the counter when we arrived were three couples of the silver haired variety, not that I don’t have silver hair but they were a tad older. They soon left and we were one-on-one with Sarah working behind the counter. She gave us the history of the winery, the back story of the family, the sources for the grapes and displayed a good depth of knowledge of the wine offerings. They have a vineyard on site for the white grapes but, due to Pierce’s Disease, red wine grapes cannot be grown in the Texas Gulf Coast region. Winters are not cold enough to disrupt the bacteria and sharp shooter bug that transmits the disease. Haak is true to their Texas roots and buys red wine grapes from Texas growers, primarily Reddy Vineyards near Lubbock, TX, and crushes them at the Haak winery in Santa Fe, TX. I have included links to the Haak Winery and the Reddy Vineyards page. I seem to be afflicted with a bit of ADD – I spent a good bit of time reading about the varieties grown by Reddy Vineyards – I found it interesting and educational!
On a side note, I remember reading that the French Wine industry was saved by US rootstock resistant to phylloxera. Now, I know that it was Texas that saved France. Excerpt below is from;
“The greatest contribution of T. V. Munson was his cooperation with the French wine industry in developing phylloxera resistant rootstocks. Once the problem was identified as an insect and it was learned that American species were resistant, the great challenge of moving rootstock material to France was taken by Munson. For four months in south central Texas, from Bell to Bexar counties, Munson organized dozens of workers and land owners who collected 15 wagons of dormant stem cuttings for shipment to France. Most importantly, all lots were identified by species and shipped via three ships to southern France. The vines were the breeding stock for the rootstocks which saved the European wine industry. Hundreds of villages were saved and thousands of grape growers were able to grow grapes again. The rootstocks used throughout the world today originated in Europe from the Texas native grape material from Munson. For this effort, T. V. Munson was awarded the Legion of Honor, Chevalier du Merite Agricole, by the French Government.” Now you know!
Back on I-45 now and in search of Brews Brothers on “The Strand” in Galveston. The old downtown section of Galveston is, at least in my eyes, a wonderfully preserved slice of history. Old buildings, brick paved sections of road, high curbs and wonderful facades. I am a beer fanatic, if you haven’t already figured it out, my bride is not far behind me as her palate improves with exposure. I had read a few reviews re-Brews Brothers online prior to making the trek. I heard great reviews for the burgers but burgers were not on my mind fro this visit. I wanted to sample some local brew.
As we went in the door to the Brews Brothers I realized that that likelihood of a good local brew was out the window…..stacked in front of the windows was a row of small fermenters, sans the requisite plumbing. Against the wall was a spate of new shiny stainless steel parts and pieces for the brewing process. Oh well, I did walk in for a beer, as did my bride. I had the Full Moon Rye Ale by Real Ale Brewing Company in Blanco, TX. Kathy went with the Eel River California Blonde Ale. The bar has a nice variety of craft brews on tap, I didn’t ask about bottles, but the folks in the bar are definitely craft beer lovers. We brought up the name Firestone Walker from California and they were well aware of the beer and its recent availability in Texas. We brought up the Parabola, the barrel aged Imperial Stout that I just love. The bartender reached behind him and pulled up a boxed bottle that belongs to the owner. It was the 2013 bottling of Parabola.
At the end of the bar was a bearded gentleman that struck up a conversation with my wife, as usual she was flirting. He has a love for craft beer, an executive chef and an all-around interesting guy. Troy Witherspoon, a local Houston legend, with a select crowd! He is now part of the team at the Brews Brothers…..I can’t wait for them to get the licensing issue squared away and true to their roots, brew that first batch of Stout!
Since it was our 31st Anniversary, we were in the mood for something beyond burgers….sorry Troy and Co. I know that your burgers have a great reputation. We walked around for a while and landed at Olympia, The Grill at Pier 21. We sat out at the edge of the patio outdoors. I wanted to share the sunset with my bride, have some seafood and hopefully shoot a picture or two. Now to the uninformed, the view might be seen as odd. Across the channel were several jack-up drilling rigs and a floater that were moored for refurbishing. There was an occasional barge passing through. Our table had a great angle to capture some photos highlighting the natural and the manmade. I knew the structures being backlit by the dipping sun might provide a dramatic addition to he scene.
The meal was good and the service was excellent. My wife had the Smoked Mahi with a Balsamic glaze, me, I had the wild caught whole Flounder – Oh my was it ever good. Out waitress was a young Ukrainian girl that had been in the US for two years now. She spoke great English und ein bischen Deutsche! The table afforded me great access to slip out onto the dock to shoot the sunset. I had my Nikon J1 with me but left the D600 in the car. The J1 does an admirable job but I should have slung the camera bag over my shoulder and increased my capabilities! We had a great meal and we were treated to a beautiful sunset and, over all – a really great day!
Drink Local and Drink Responsibly