7th annual Fall Fest promises unpretentious Hill Country food and Texas wine
If you’ve been in Austin for some time, you’re no stranger to the fact that this sizzling season has a knack for overstaying its welcome. This weekend, try to forget that the searing 90+ degree temperatures are a constant reminder that despite the calendar date, summer is still looming and head to Marble Falls for the 7th Annual Texas Fall Fest. Each year, this food and wine festival kicks off a fall season jam-packed with food and wine events—just check out any local events calendar, and you’ll see just about every weekend from October through December booked with something to sip and savor somewhere in Central Texas.
But Fall Fest is the first to kick it off with a Friday night “Sunset Stroll” offering guests a taste of Central Texas with samples of some of Texas’ best wine and nibbles from more than 14 area restaurants, including Austin’s own Jack Gilmore of Jack Allen’s Kitchen and Paul Peterson of Vivo. Saturday in the historic Marble Falls Square, you can stroll charming antique shops and boutiques and have another opportunity to taste what’s new in Texas wine. (I’m personally looking forward to tasting wines from Sandstone Cellars, Bending Branch Winery, and Perissos Vineyard and Winery—a few of the off-the-beaten-path wineries that are starting to turn heads among Texas wine enthusiasts.) The festival closes Saturday evening with a celebratory wine auction and dinner from acclaimed chef Lou Lambert, who is celebrating the release of his new cookbook, Big Ranch, Big City. Participating food and wine vendors below:
- Restaurants: H-E-B Deli & Catering, Iguana Grill, , Jack Allen’s Kitchen, Kerbey Lane Café, Lantana Grill & Bar, Navajo Grill, Rather Sweet Bakery & Café, Sideoats Café, Silver K Café, Spanish Oaks, The Gage Hotel, VIVO and Wines Across Texas.
- Wineries: Alamosa Wine Cellars, Becker Vineyards, Bending Branch Winery, CapRock Winery, Fall Creek Vineyards, Fiesta Winery, Flat Creek Estate, Fredericksburg Winery, Georgetown Winery, Inwood Estates Vineyards, Los Pinos Ranch Vineyards, Perissos Vineyards and Winery, McReynolds Winery, Pillar Bluff Vineyards, Sandstone Cellars Winery, Spicewood Vineyards, Texas Hills Vineyard, Wines of Dotson Cervantes.
- Artisan Producers: Zhi Tea, Texas Olive Ranch, Christen's Gourmet Prailines (+bread pudding and beignets), Texas on the Plate, Broken Arrow Ranch, Delysia Chocolates, Kohana Coffee, Hill Country Homestyle Canning, Texas Lavender, Aurelia's Chorizo, Confituras (jams and preserves), New Bread Rising, Dos Lunas Cheese, Pie Fixes Everything, Pâté Letelier, Lick's Ice Cream and Shibber DLites Gourmet Cheeseballs.
In truth, Fall Fest is smaller than a lot of other area food and wine festivals, namely the Texas Hill Country Wine and Food Festival that will see a complete head-to-toe makeover in the Spring of 2010 as the Austin Wine and Food Festival. But I like Fall Fest because it is small. You’re actually able to talk to chefs as they serve you without getting elbowed and pushed aside by other attendees. It lacks the pretentious atmosphere of some other wine and food events allowing you to simply sip and savor, without having to put on any airs about your overall wine or food knowledge. And it’s a short 45 minutes from Austin, making it the perfect Hill Country getaway without having to get too far away—you can still enjoy the night in the comfort of your own bed.
Plus, it’s a great way to familiarize yourself with Texas wine, which believe it or not, has a lot more to offer than you might think. It’s the sole reason Susan Auler of Fall Creek Vineyards created the event more than seven years ago. Auler is a sort of pioneer in her own right having kicked off the Texas wine industry with her husband, Ed in the mid 1970s with Fall Creek Vineyards. The Aulers have been instrumental in driving the growth and awareness of the Texas wine industry and have garnered quite a few food and wine fans along the way.
Will Fall Fest usher in that cool, refreshing season we all long for? Probably not, but it will certainly tide us over for another week or two.