Friday, February 28, 2020

Going Green in Gruene: Organic Wine

By Connor Brown at The Grapevine


               March in New Braunfels is quite a sight to see. The cold weather has likely left us for the year, and the town is painted in various shades of green, from our beautiful parks and trees (shout out to Parks and Rec!) to the green tinted beer in our cups around the 17th. New Braunfels is crazy about green and this is the month we get to shamelessly over-do it, because who doesn’t love drinking green beer in Gruene wearing green? I certainly do, but Gruene is getting into a different kind of green this month with an upcoming selection of Organic wines!
                What makes a wine organic? This is easily the simplest question to answer in the realm of organic wine, as it has everything to do with the grapes and how they’re grown. Each year, organic wine producers endure a rigorous process to stay organically certified. Vineyards cannot use any herbicide, pesticide, or other toxic or superfluous substance to maintain or support the vines or alter the wine. In America, our USDA is responsible for testing soil, taking samples, and ensuring compliance with the vineyards and their strict rules. Beware as organic does not mean Vegan or Natural, for wine it’s the assurance that every aspect of production is scrutinized from growth to storage. And with new revelations every year about harmful chemicals that enter our body on a regular basis through food, it’s nice to have the peace of mind that our dinner or recreation wine isn’t adding to that list.
But what is the real difference between organic and non-organic wine? Aside from the obvious, non-organic wine making can include the use of chemicals to maintain the vineyard, and additives to affect the taste and color of the wine flowing from the bottle. For larger and more productive wineries, the use of pesticides and herbicides is common practice. However, a good question, what makes it into the glass that isn’t organic? Obviously, any additive is a no-no in organic wine production, but the most common thing that gets added to wine during production is sulfur dioxide, which results in wines having sulfites. Sulfites are going to be found in almost all wines, but what gets the organic stamp is simply not adding any more to it. But what do these sulfites even do and why add it? The practice of adding Sulfur Dioxide is to curtail the formation of unwanted bacteria or yeast once the wine is produced. Therefore, in order to meet USDA requirements, wines must have less than 100 parts per million of sulfites. This mostly just affects the shelf life of a bottle, which to most of us is unimportant as most wine is consumed within 30 minutes of purchase.
At the end of the day, what’s most important is if the wine is delicious and the time spent drinking it was enjoyed. With so many wines in this world and so little time to try them, maybe making an effort to drink organic can help us enjoy wine even longer in our lives and in our world. 
Cheers to living green, from Gruene!

First published in New Braunfels Monthly.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Valentine's Day Specials in Gruene Historic District

By Kristen King


No matter your Valentine's vibe, we have you covered. Treat yourself (and your Valentine) to a delicious, memorable night out in Gruene Historic District.

There's no shortage of swoon-worthy activities, and there is definitely something for everyone! In the mood for wine tastings? Head to The Grapevine. In the mood for live music? Head over to Gruene Hall. Want to dine on a delicious meal in a historic, Texas setting? Gristmill River Restaurant & Bar is the place to be! Looking to find a unique memento? Stroll around the local boutiques in town to find everything from jewelry to antiques to apparel and more. Do you LOVE margaritas? Head over to Cantina del Rio and have the best one in New Braunfels!


Why not try something new? Mix up your traditional Gruene experience with a fly casting lesson, a new cocktail or menu item at your favorite restaurant, or stop by Gruene Hall for some of the free live music you may usually miss out on.

What's the best thing about Valentine's Day in Gruene? You don't have to plan months in advance to have a special, memorable time. No reservations needed! Most dinner features are offered all weekend long, as well. Can't find a sitter on the 14th? No problem! Get one for Saturday or Sunday and celebrate then! There's a flexibility that you don't have most other places. You can truly enjoy the company you're with and not have to stick to a schedule. If you find yourself enjoying the garden at The Grapevine too much to leave, you can sit and sip for as long as you like. Dinner is merely steps away when you're ready. Put your name on the list at Mozie's they'll text you when your table is ready! Enjoy the live music at the Gristmill River Restaurant & Bar until your table is ready there! Let your focus be on the time you spend together, complimented by delicious food and wine.



The modern idea of giving a gift is to give an experience versus a wrapped gift, and this is the epitome of that very idea. Experience Texas the food, the wine, the music, and especially the company all in Gruene Historic District!

Special menu selections (available February 14th-16th) include...


Gristmill River Restaurant & Bar
A tender and juicy 8oz. New York strip accompanied by bacon-wrapped stuffed Texas gulf jumbo shrimp, served with loaded mashed potatoes and an iceberg wedge salad. ($25.99) Don't forget dessert...Ultimate Turtle Cheesecake: creamy cheesecake with rich fudge, topped with caramel, pecans, chocolate chips and whipped cream. Served with two spoons.

Mozie's
Choose from the juicy Panko Parmesan Chicken Pasta with creamy chipotle sauce or an authentic Italian Meatball & Angel Hair Pasta with slow-simmered plum tomato sauce. Each served with garlic bread and your choice of Caesar Salad or iceberg lettuce wedge. ($15.99)

Cantina del Rio
Sizzlin' tender chicken or beef fajitas marinated in our special fresh-squeezed lime marinade, served with beans, rice, house made guacamole, fresh pico and your choice of flour or corn tortillas. ($13.95 for one or $24.95 for you and your sweetie)



Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Wine & Chocolate Pairing: There's Only One Rule


      Is there a more romantic, luxurious duo? Not from where we're sitting! But pairing wine and chocolate so the flavors enhance, rather than compete, can be a challenge. The secret is simple: try to match the intensity of the two components.

      In general, crisp white wines pair best with white chocolate, smooth medium-bodied wines pair well with milk chocolate, and deep heavy-bodied red wines pair best with dark chocolate. The combinations are endless, and it can be fun to taste test your way to your favorite pairings! If you are tasting multiple pairings, remember to move from light to dark chocolate or light-bodied to full-bodied wine. This will help the flavors build rather than clash.

      Everyone's palate is different, so we encourage you to experiment with different pairings to find your own favorite!

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Classic Peeps Need Classy Drinks

By Connor Brown at the Grapevine in Gruene



               Now we’re in full swing of the new decade, let’s take a moment to remember the epidemic that swept over our nation 100 years ago: Prohibition. The roaring twenties, a time of great class, wealth, and long nights occupying hidden corners of our city; where great music and libations set the scene. And what a change to be able to enjoy our favorite beverages in our favorite establishments, or in the serenity of our own spaces. However, despite the outright ban on alcohol and intoxication only 100 years ago, winos endured and enjoyed special privilege to get them through the decade. Home wine making was still legal and saw a whopping 10% increase during the time of prohibition, as 200 gallons of wine a year could be made for personal consumption. Therefore, as an ode to a magical time in our history and the tradition of winemaking, cheers to those who kept the art alive and the glasses full.
                Winemaking in Texas goes back even farther than prohibition, and many if those who continued this tradition paved the way for some local favorite wineries such as McPherson, William Chris, and Llano Estacado. From each of these vineyards come a plethora of classy drink choices, but first, a personal favorite, William Chris Texas High Plains Rosé. This eccentric blend of Sangiovese, Riesling, and Mourvedre satisfies the palate with its full body flavor, and decadently creamy texture. Right out of the bottle, experience floral aromas and lively notes of melon, honeysuckle, and undertones of raspberry. Another wonderful quality of this wine is its versatility. Whether it be a posh function, or a simple gathering on the patio, this wine will rise to the occasion and prove to be a crowd-pleaser.
                For red wine fanatics, Llano is responsible for many of our favorite Texas selections, and new to our area is their Bourbon Barrel aged Tempranillo. A varietal originally from Spain, many Texas winemakers test their chops with this one, because of the climate similarities to Spain and Northern Texas. The flavors of the grape shine through with smokey, peppery, leathery goodness and complex notes of dark fruit, but the bourbon barrel aging shows its teeth with a unique warming bite on the finish. These qualities make this wine perfect for a chilly evening, or a bargain bottle for a complex multiple course meal at a fancy dinner party.
                Finally, for dessert, let’s unwind with an excellent Texas made Sherry from our friends at McPherson in Lubbock. A fortified wine, Sherry is another popular style originating from Spain, and packs a punch at 17.8% ABV so it’s best enjoyed in controlled quantities. With intense aromas of caramel and warm butterscotch, this copper colored wine melts into sweet flavors of dark plum, molasses, and toasted almond. Best enjoyed with something devilishly sweet, or on its own with someone sweet.
                We owe something to the pioneers that kept us going through a tough time in our history, and with their dedication to keeping the wine industry alive, we’re able to enjoy the innovations of Texas winemaking wherever we are. And with that, here’s to another year of celebrations to kick off another decade of swanky elegance, reminiscent of the classy days of twenties past.

First published in New Braunfels Monthly.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Hal Ketchum & Gruene Hall: A Match Made in Music Heaven


Many musicians have played Gruene Hall, building its legacy with music and memories, but only one artist also used a hammer and nail. Did you know Hal Ketchum worked at Gruene Hall?

Hal Ketchum at Gruene Hall


Originally from upstate New York, Hal moved to New Braunfels in 1981. One Sunday while at his home near the heart of Gruene, he heard some music he liked and followed it straight to the Hall!

It was just a normal Sunday at Gruene Hall. A favorite no-cover band was playing, patrons were enjoying the music and a cold drink. But, normal turned extraordinary when the handsome stranger sauntered through the side door by the old cigarette machine. Hal walked over to the band, talked to the musicians for a minute, then pulled out his harmonica and started playing along. He fit right in! He had found his place, his people.



Soon a fixture at the Hall, he worked as a carpenter during the day and pulled out his guitar to play no-cover shows at night. Have you ever noticed the basketball goal in the beer garden at Gruene Hall? That's Hal's handiwork. How about the wooden doors at the front of the Hall that open and close over the old swinging doors? Yep, those are Hal's too.



His career took off in 1991 when his first single "Small Town Saturday Night" hit number one. A string of hits followed, earning him an induction into the Grand Ole Opry in 1994 as its 71st member.