Monday, August 31, 2020

Heat Quencher

By Conner Brown at The Grapevine


      September is a bittersweet month for many of us in the Hill Country. For some, there’s a light at the end of a blistering hot tunnel. For others, it marks an unwinding of the summer season and perhaps a return to not-as-fun activities. Ultimately we can all agree it's been hot and, whether we lament or embrace a cooler climate, we can likely agree on that front. In this new environment of “normal” however, our methods of staying cool are changing. Many of us have simply resorted to making friends with air conditioners and wine bottles, and we'd be hard-pressed to find better companions in such strange and steamy times. However, the decision is never easy as individual wines carry unique expressions from vintages to varietals, which can add some stress to the situation. It's far too hot to panic, so a great strategy starts with staying local and choosing wine made for Texans, by Texans. 

      White wines are a definite go-to when gazing at a near boiling thermometer from a distance. These wines are served chilled, and can be refreshing and satisfying to a thirsty palate. However, it's important to take note of the varietal and fashion it was produced, as not all whites are the same. When discussing the body of a wine, we take into account a full-bodied wine will be rich in texture and flavor, and will likely carry a stronger alcohol content. As a summer drinker, these styles are not ideal when pairing temperature and taste. Lighter bodied wines often have structured acidity that refreshes the palate with every sip, while heavier selections embrace pairing potential and become missing puzzle pieces to favorite dishes. At the end of the day, there is one particular Texas wine that leaps into the spotlight for this event. 

      Despite warm temperatures, we must admit that this is still one of the most beautiful times to live in Texas. Leave it to a Texan to combine two of our most important summer traditions of barbecuing and drinking wine into one at the Salt Lick Winery. In addition to having some of the best BBQ in the state, Salt Lick grows and produces several different wines that usually require a trek to Driftwood to try (if you're not in Gruene, that is). Their BBQ White is an outstanding blend of Trebbiano, Vermentino, Pinot Gris, and Muscat. These varieties come together to form a citrus-forward medley, with strong undertones of limestone and lemongrass. Controlled by its unoaked aging process, a hint of Muscat gives this blend a short kiss of sweetness followed by refreshing acidity to pair perfectly with the patio and the brisket. 

Friday, July 31, 2020

Berries, Spice and Everything Nice

By Connor Brown at The Grapevine


      August is a very important month for many of us New Braunfelsers. A month of cramming in those final trips of the summer, getting the kiddos ready for another great year at school, and most importantly, drinkin’ wine and chillin’! However, some of us have seen our vacations morph into staycations and are turning living rooms into classrooms as we continue adjusting to this new normal. What hasn’t changed? Top Texas wineries bringing some of their finest juice to a little oasis just up the road in Gruene! No sweaty palm, high speed, two-way country road with Formula 1 turns driving necessary!

      Up north in Cedar Park, a small team transforms Texas grapes into gold. Utilizing Texas Tech education and Texas grown experience, Bent Oak Winery is a rising force producing excellent and authentic Texas wine. By paying close attention to terroir and climate, winemaker John Catalano understands the harmony when composing with Texas fruit and soil.

      The Bent Oak Cabernet Sauvignon, born and raised in our state, is hard to come by in a retail store due to a flavor profile in stark contrast to what wine drinkers are used to in cabernet. After all, the highest rated cabs come from France or California. While cab is grown extensively in Texas and used abundantly in blending across the state and country, it’s not common in my experience to drink a truly exceptional Texas Cabernet Sauvignon. And just when I thought 2020 couldn’t get weirder...

      Upon opening the bottle, dark red on the underside of the cork whispers of depth as faint notes of aged amaretto waft into a full bouquet of black cherry and spice on the nose. As the palette prepares for its first sip, white pepper and oak eagerly accompany subtle notes of vanilla and blackberry. The wine is properly aged so tannins make a memorable appearance without overstaying their welcome. Finishing flavors of smokey cranberry cascade across the palette, leaving it eagerly waiting for more. Mr. Catalano makes a wonderful display of winemaking prowess to deliver a familiar cab drinking experience, all while adhering to and exemplifying qualities that make Texas wine unique. This bottle makes a perfect companion for anyone trying to beef up some brisket, or to simply enjoy a cool evening under the Lone Star.

      Of all the things that we could be doing right now, it would certainly be worse if we didn’t have wine. An outlet of sorts, enjoying Texas-made wine is also a way to be closer to the community and support one of the oldest industries in the state, all while helping forget about cancelled travel plans and tomorrow's lesson plan for the little ones. But for those serious about Texas wine, this cab is a must try and a great example of what is going on at Bent Oak Winery.

      Come on in and start with the cab, it won't be long before their Tempranillo, Rose, or Cuvee start sounding just as delicious. Stay safe, and stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Gruene Hall BINGO

Can you get a BINGO on our Gruene Hall card? If not, consider it a To-Do List!

Gruene Hall Bingo
*click to enlarge

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Bottled Summer: Citrus Flavors and Sunshine

By Connor Brown at The Grapevine


      If anybody knows about quenching thirst deep in the heat of the summer, it is the wineries deep in the heart of Texas! Located in Lubbock, Llano Estacado is one of the largest and best-selling wineries in the state—and their sauvignon blanc or rosé are the perfect summer wine selections.

      Sauvignon blanc is one of the most popular grape varietals, known to any wine-lover. Originally from the Bordeaux region in France, sauvignon blanc is a popular grape at vineyards all over the world for its versatility and variety in flavor. With so many different climates and conditions in the world, the flavor of this common grape is distinctly different depending on the region.

      This grape can be grown in every corner of the world, but Texans do it particularly well. This varietal demands sunshine, but cannot thrive in high temperatures. Finding the perfect compromise, Llano Estacado grows their fruit in the sweet spot of the high planes so it gets plenty of sunshine without getting battered by the extreme Texas heat.

      Llano Sauvignon Blanc is a dry white wine, boasting aromas of guava and lemon peel. Beginning with beautiful tropical fruit on the nose, a ripe lemon citrus flavor carries a balanced acidity into a pleasantly full-bodied mouthfeel. This wine carries a complexity found in other full-bodied white varietals while maintaining its light and zesty delicacy. This unique balance is what makes it a special, distinct American sauvignon blanc. Easy to drink on a hot summer day, keep a bottle chilled to enjoy in your favorite shady spot.

      With growing popularity, rosé has become a new go-to summer wine as more and more people discover its delicately refreshing qualities at the mid-point between white and red.

      While there are many ways to achieve a rosé, one of the most common methods is called skin contact. This method basically allows red wine grapes to ferment with the skins for a limited time before the juice is drained and separated, leaving a wonderful pink juice to continue to mature into a delectable rosé wine.

      The Llano Rosé is born using this method. After a maximum of 10 hours skin contact to extract flavor and color, the skins are gently pressed and the juice racked into stainless steel tanks where they ferment with a special yeast blend to preserve the delicate aromatics and build citrus flavor. The perfect classic rosé should be aromatic, food friendly and enjoyable on its own. Llano Rosé is all three, to a tee.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

17 Memes for Every Taco-Lover

1 / 16

2 / 16

3 / 16

4 / 16

5 / 16

6 / 16

7 / 16

8 / 16

9 / 16

10 / 16

11 / 16

12 / 16

13 / 16

14 / 16

15 / 16

16 / 16
Cantina del Rio - Gruene, Texas


Want more? Follow Cantina del Rio on Facebook!

Monday, June 8, 2020

10 Things We Love to Order at Mozie's

Mozie's - Gruene, Texas
 In a setting of casual rustic elegance where the all-sports TV’s and air conditioning are always on, Mozie’s in Gruene Historic District features a full bar and an all-day menu of favorite American classics done right.

Here are some local favorites!

Mozie's - Gruene, Texas
Nothing satisfies like a juicy, flame-kissed cheeseburger...and this is the king of them all.

Mozie's - Gruene, Texas
The Anticuchos prove that 3 simple components, when assembled thoughtfully, can be absolutely delicious.

Mozie's - Gruene, Texas
With fresh, bright flavors, the Fish Tacos are a meal that will fill you up without slowing you down!

Mozie's - Gruene, Texas
This is a super classic, deliciously familiar dish— but don't mistake that for basic flavor. It's anything but basic.

Mozie's - Gruene, Texas
 Are you an onion ring connoisseur? You're gonna love these rings. Don't typically care for onion rings? You're gonna love these rings. (Really.)

Mozie's - Gruene, Texas
 A hidden gem, this sandwich is purely craveable! There's friend chicken sandwiches and then there's the Panko Sandwich at Mozie's.

Mozie's - Gruene, Texas
Simple and straight forward sliders like you've never had them before. Served 3 to an order— although you'll wish you had room for more!

Mozie's - Gruene, Texas
From the slow-simmered sauce to the handmade meatballs, the Meatball Sub is a deliciously hearty sandwich you'll never see coming.

Mozie's - Gruene, Texas
 Don't overlook this local favorite— the seemingly simple Big Dog is layered with flavors that are just meant to be.

Mozie's - Gruene, Texas
It's a fresh, delicious dish that surpasses the meager reputation of a typical turkey sandwich.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Texas Wine: These Hills Have Vines

By Connor Brown at The Grapevine


               It is hard to avoid the elephant in the room. For many of us, things are far different than they were at the beginning of the year. In just a short amount of time, many of us have experienced unprecedented changes and are still overcoming challenges adjusting to this “new normal”. However, Texans are notoriously resilient, and during these times we are all doing our part to keep each other safe, healthy, and happy. Among us, are wine makers, grape growers, and thousands of others in the industry that are fighting to keep doors open and to help our beautiful state recover. Therefore, while being our best selves and taking proactive measures to stay safe, it has now become our urgent duty to help one of our oldest and reliable industries and drink up as much Texas wine as possible.

               Texas history is deeply rooted in wine and begins as early as 1662 with a vineyard established by European missionaries. These vineyards became more abundant as our historical churches and missions began to be constructed and the demand for communion wine increased. In the mid-19th century, the French world of wine was in peril as a massive phylloxera (invasive, vine-thirsty insect) problem wiped out over 25% of vines planted in France. This required a Texas sized solution, and with the help of Thomas Volney Munson, the French wine industry was saved. Thomas Volney Munson was a scientist who discovered that American vines had become immune to the pest. Through extensive research, he determined a specific grape grown near Temple, Texas would have the most success being grafted and grown in southern France due to the soil. Mr. Munson became the second American to receive the Chevalier du Mérite Agricole (Order of Agricultural Merit) behind Thomas Edison. By 1883 Frank Qualia opened Val Verde Winery in Del Rio which roared through the 20s and stayed optimistic through the Depression of the 30s to become the oldest winery in Texas today. Through their perseverance and the support of their community, Val Verde helped pave the way for countless other growers and producers in our state that helped create a wave in the 1970s when the industry saw its largest growth. Between 1975 and 1985, some of the biggest names including McPherson, Messina Hof, and Fall Creek produced their first vintages, and have since produced hundreds more and inspired new wineries as Texas ranks among the top in the country for wine production and consumption.

               Make no mistake, the Texas wine industry is as strong as ever with over four hundred wineries, over four thousand acres of planted vines, and booming business worth at least thirteen billion dollars. In fact, The Hill Country alone is the second largest AVA (American Viticultural Area) in the country and is home to over 50 wineries. However, these impressive figures do not grant immunity to freak events like pandemics, and wineries are still counting on us to enjoy their wine so they can keep making it. So, as we remember do our part in everything else, let us not forget to support our neighbors so they can continue to support us.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Your Perfect Guide: Eat/Drink in Gruene Historic District








Just off the Guadalupe River, Cantina del Rio is perfectly positioned for your post-float taco fix. But this hot spot doesn't just serve muy bueno Tex-mex favorites they serve some serious burgers! The Bean Burger is a legend with its juicy beef patty, topped with refried beans, Fritos, red onion and melted Cheez Whiz. (Yeah, they went there.) Not hungry, just thirsty? Cantina del Rio's margarita has been voted the Best in New Braunfels every year since 2012!







As seen in Southern Living magazine, Fickle Pickles makes the best homemade pickles you've ever tasted! With complimentary samples, it's easy to fall in love with their sweet, crunchy, spicy recipe. (They also have an extra spicy option that is to die for!) Put the Fickle Pickles on a hamburger or sandwich, in deviled eggs or a bloody mary! Available by the jar, half-case or full-case.







If sitting in the shade, sipping your favorite wine or craft beer is your kind of thing, The Grapevine is your kind of place. With picnic tables tucked under the giant oak trees, they feature one of the largest selections of Texas wines, as well as carefully curated wine from around the world. Not a wine drinker? They have Texas craft beer, too! Offering a menu that changes with the season, complimentary tastings, and a knowledgeable staff to help guide you to the perfect pour, it's the ultimate spot to sit and sip awhile. 







One of the most unique dining spots in Texas, the Gristmill River Restaurant & Bar is located in a century-old cotton gin overlooking the beautiful Guadalupe River. If the amazing view isn't enough to lure you in, how about fall-off-the-bone ribs, a huge chicken fried steak, or juicy fire roasted chicken? Almost there? Bookend your meal with a tower of legendary onion rings to start and Jack Daniel's Pecan Pie to finish.







Not your average coffee shop, Gruene Coffee Haus roasts their beans in-house and only as needed, giving new meaning to the phrase "fresh cup of coffee". This is as fresh as it gets! But don't forget to check out the rest of their menu. This cozy spot also offers a full espresso menu, cold brew, smoothies, Italian sodas, and pastries made locally from scratch. Ready for happy hour? They also offer locally brewed beer and wine from Dry Comal Creek Vineyards.







Sample over 50 different flavors of fresh olive oil and balsamic vinegar fresh from the tap. Plus gourmet chocolate, pastas, pesto, sauces and so much more! This beautiful shop makes upscale ingredients delectably accessible. Not sure where to start? Try some samples to get you going. The staff knows every single item and can help with pairing suggestions and recipe ideas!







In a casually rustic setting where the all-sports TV's and air conditioning are always on, Mozie's features a full bar and all-day menu of favorite American classics. From the fresh and light fish tacos to the hearty and juicy Top Sirloin, this menu truly covers all the bases. Where else can you get a 100% beef hotdog grilled and topped with jalapeno mustard, dill relish, and/or sauerkraut? Nowhere, that's where. Belly up to the long bar and have a specialty cocktail or ice cold beer while you mull over the menu. It takes a while to make a selection when absolutely everything is craveable.







Locally sourced from Texas farmers, the River House has a menu that brings people together in the name of scrumptious food and feel-good atmosphere. This is the place you'll find home-cooked meals like chicken and waffles, fried green tomatoes, chicken pot pie, and even brisket enchiladas. But don't sleep through the weekend brunch! The Gruene Eggs and Ham Benedict is so rich and savory, it's the perfect companion to their classic mimosa.

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.