The plan was to have breakfast before heading out to a couple of the wineries in Comfort, which open at 11 a.m. on Saturdays.
So, a group of eight of us made a quick stop for some fortification at the Flagstop Cafe along I-10 in Boerne before tasting any wine. Then, armed with a Google map, we made it to Comfort and immediately got lost.
The wineries in Comfort, it seems, are not marked with the same plethora of signs that guide people from the interstate, such as those beckoning people to Sister Creek or those along Highway 290 through Hye and Stonewall. Nor was the Google map right: You do not have to go through the German retirement community to get there.
You do have to take a few twists and turns, which reminded me a little of the roads in Italy. That comparison was further reinforced by the beauty of the scenery, which had a Tuscan feel that could be seen in the hilly view that rises opposite Bending Branch Winery, our first stop.
This charming winery is relatively new on the growing Texas wine scene and features an attractive tasting room with plenty of covered porch space, if you want to enjoy more than a sip after, the work of tasting all of the wines. (If you want an accurate map of how to get there, check out the winery’s website.)
For $10, you can taste the winery’s seven selections. Whites include the 2010 Vermentino, a clean, refreshing quaffer that has plenty of citrus flavor and touch of minerality, and the 2009 Picpoul Blanc, with its sting of citrus and spice among its qualities. Reds included the velvety 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2009 Tannat. If you’re not familiar with Tannat, it’s a hearty grape, inky and bold; it’s also the wine world’s equivalent of a superfood with its high concentration of resveratrol.
Bending Branch Winery was started by Dr. Bob Young. At the present time, all of his wines are made with grapes purchased from either the Texas High Plains, used in the rosé, or California’s Central Coast. All of the grapes have been planted on the property, using sustainable methods, and will eventually be used. The first to mature, the Picpoul Blanc, is expected to be used in the next bottling.
Around the corner and about two miles away is Singing Water Vineyards, which is a touch more rustic with its red barn look, but it is no less friendly. Dog lovers will especially enjoy the gentle Labrador retrievers on the property, including Lupe, whose picture adorns the label for the Sweet Lupe, a semi-sweet dessert wine.
You can taste the lineup for $6, which also includes the 2011 Pinot Grigio, which has a delightful almond flavor mixed in with a good level of acidity, and the 2010 Vintner’s Reserve, a Cabernet-Merlot blend with a buttery oak level and nice level of red fruit flavor. The 2010 Freedrom is a Syrah-Cabernet-Merlot blend that is rich with dark berry flavors, a slightly peppery quality and smooth oak; part of the proceeds from the sales of this wine benefit a scholarship fund for children of veterans.
You can’t go to Comfort without checking out the antiques, which is the town’s main attraction. So, we headed to High Street where we strolled from store to store to admire the treasures, many of which brought back memories of our childhoods. There were plenty of kitchen and foodie items that caught the eye, including an old Charles Chips cannister, an old-fashioned milkshake maker and various sets of china.
We also happened in on the Comfort Meet Market, a cool place for a beer or glass of wine adorned in all manner of Beatles and VW Beetle memorabilia as well as a wall of glass soda bottles through the years that included my childhood favorite, Wink.
We ended our stay with a trip to Comfort Pizza at one end of High Street, which offers mesquite-fired pizza in a renovated gas station from the 1920s. The dining area is outdoors under umbrellas that cover retro white metal tables with colorful chairs.
The drink list includes a variety of organic and natural sodas. There’s also a BYOB policy written out on the menu, in which the corkage fee is waived if you bring in any of the local wines.
But the real star is the near-perfect pizza on a thin but sturdy crust that gets good and charred from the heat. We had the Bubba, which is real meat-lover’s treat, as well as the Bubba Supreme, in which the meats are crowned with a few vegetables that somehow don’t manage to get in the way. Tomato, meats, spices were all excellent, but it’s the slightly smoky flavor in the crust that is the real standout.
Comfort has more dining choices, including an old-favorite, 814 A Texas Bistro, and we heard praise for the Plaid Goat among others. Plus, there are many more antique shops to browse and even another winery, Comfort Cellar. So, a return trip is in order.
Bending Branch Winery
142 Lindner Branch Road, Comfort
Singing Water Vineyards
316 Mill Dam Road, Comfort
802 High St., Comfort