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‘Tall in Texas’ Award Goes to Proprietors of Becker Vineyards

GRAPEVINE, Texas — The 28th annual Grape Fest kicked off with the Texas Wine Tribute, a black-tie gala and one of the most prestigious annual Texas wine industry events.  The Texas wine tribute presented the much anticipated “Tall in Texas” award to Dr. Richard and Bunny Becker of Becker Vineyards on Sept. 6.

The “Tall in Texas” award is bestowed to a Texas winery in recognition of the winery’s leadership role in the dedication to, support of and promotion of the Texas wine industry.

Becker Vineyards is one of the largest wineries in Texas, as well as one of the largest contractors of Texas grapes and fruits.  As tireless supporters of the Texas wine industry, Becker Vineyards is one of the leading advocates for Texas wines being produced from Texas-grown grapes.

“Bunny and I are very honored at the recognition,” said Richard Becker upon receiving the award.

Bunny and Dr. Richard Becker, proprietors, Becker Vineyards

Bunny and Dr. Richard Becker, proprietors, Becker Vineyards. (Photo courtesy of Becker Vineyards)

“It was very exciting.  There were other people in the Texas wine industry in attendance like Gene Estes of Lone Oak Winery and Jim Evans, president of the Texas Wine & Grape Growers Association.  It was a lot of fun!” Becker said.

Wines served for the Texas Wine Tribute Dinner included Becker Vineyards Viognier 2012, Reserve Grenache 2012, Reserve Cabernet Franc 2012, Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Canada Family 2012, and The Clementine (late harvested Viognier) 2012.

For 20 years, the Beckers’ approach to winemaking has been to produce premium wines and to share their winemaking knowledge with others within the industry.  Known for taking a classically French approach to winemaking, Becker Vineyards ensures that during the winemaking process, all the necessary steps are taken to produce the highest-level premium product possible.  Becker Vineyards is credited with the being one of the earliest proponents of premium Texas wines.

From the winery’s earliest beginnings, Becker Vineyards has been a strong supporter of the Texas Wine & Grape Grower Association, joining the organization just after the Beckers began producing wine.  Dr. Becker served as the organization’s president in 1998 and has held consistent membership for 20 years.  Dr. Becker has also been a leader in the research of Pierce’s disease, working in conjunction with and financially supporting the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service for 19 years.

Becker Vineyards 2013 Provencal cropped

Becker Provencal, a French-style dry rose’ that won double-gold medal for Becker Vineyards in 2014.

As a leader in the mentorship of other winemakers throughout the state of Texas, Becker Vineyards has hosted a variety of events and training sessions focused on their production methods, helping to educate other winemakers and to raise the awareness of premium wines.  In February 2014, Becker Vineyards hosted the Texas A&M AgriLife Grower Field Day and Benefit Dinner.

The event provided education for existing, new and future Texas grape growers and Texas wineries, Becker Vineyards has also been a continuous supporter of education through many collegiate programs, including those at Texas A&M University and Texas Tech University, as well as the Texas Center for Wine & Culinary Arts.

“Dr. Becker is one of the founders of the Buffalo Gap Wine & Food Summit and in 2011, Dr. Becker suggested that the Viticulture and Enology Program at Texas Tech be the beneficiary of their annual event,” said Dr. Ed Hellman, professor of Viticulture, Texas Tech University.

Becker-Vineyards-logo“Since that year, the non-profit has supported the Buffalo Gap Wine & Food Summit Graduate Fellowship with $2,500 each year, which is dedicated to supporting a graduate student studying viticulture and enology in the Department of Plant and Soil Science at Texas Tech.  The fellowship achieves two important goals:  one, training tomorrow’s leaders of the grape and wine industry, and two, supporting research to enhance grape production in Texas,” said Hellman.

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Griffin to Go: A Taste of Texas Wine Offers Something Beyond the Same Old Chardonnay

Kim Murray McDonald of and Sarah Vernetti of enjoy the wines at the Taste of Texas Wine.

Veronique Barretto of

Steinheimer’s Lounge at the Westin La Cantera features a treasure map on the ceiling that supposedly points to hidden gold. But on Friday night, the gold was found in glasses, as the bar was the setting of a Taste of Texas Wine Tweet-Up.

Wine from Haak, Becker, Alamosa and Inwood Estates.

Resort sommelier Steven Krueger and Vintage Texas wine blogger Russ Kane led a tasting of four uniquely different Texas wines, each made from grapes that extend far beyond the California classics, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.

“Texas is its own growing region, unique,” Krueger told the audience of local bloggers and tweeters. “You walk into a Texas winery and you don’t know what they’re going to serve you … and that’s a challenge.”

Grapes with names like Aglianico, Touriga Nacional and Vermentino aren’t household favorites, Kane admitted. Yet these seem to be among the grapes that are proving to be perfect for the state’s climate and great for those “locapours” out there who want to drink locally, he said.

“Our wine experience is not going to be what a California wine experience will be,” Kane said.

Westin sommelier Steven Krueger leads the discussion.

California has cast a giant shadow that the rest of the wine growing regions in the nation all have to operate under, Krueger said.

But Texas winemakers are making strides with lesser-known varietals that are offer great flavors in the glass.

To prove that, Krueger started the tasting with the 2009 Haak Vineyards Blanc du Bois, which was steely and bracing with a citrus edge. “Lemon meringue pie,” pronounced Veronique Barretto, who writes the Vinously Speaking blog.

Blanc du Bois is a grape that was introduced in 1987. It was developed in Florida to withstand harsh growing conditions while being resistant to Pierce’s disease, a bacterial infection that has wiped out countless acres of vineyards in the U.S. and beyond. With a grape so new, “there’s not a history or tradition of making it,” Krueger said.

So, people like Raymond Haak of Haak Vineyards are writing that history with their attempts. Though the version poured at Steinheimer’s was dry, Haak also produces a sweet Blanc du Bois.

The main point of the event was to spread the word about Texas wine, which the various writers did with their tweets. The gathering included Heather Hernandez of; Lauren Madrid, @ohmypuddin; Kim Murray McDonald of; Emily Stringer, @definedelicious; Stacy Teet, @steet; and Sarah Vernetti of

While the bloggers tweeted away, our attention turned to the 2010 Becker Vineyards Viognier, all viscous and full of peach or apricot flavors. This is another grape that grows well in Texas, so well, in fact, that “it has kind of become our Chardonnay,” Kane said.

Richard and Bunny Becker have been pioneers of the grape in the state, Krueger said, adding that Bunny deserves credit for pushing for the grape’s growing acceptance among wine drinkers and growers alike.

Heather Hernandez of (from left), John Madrid, Lauren Madrid of ohmypuddin and Stacy Teet of @steet

Third was the Alamosa Wine Cellars Palette, a Rhone-style blend that winemaker Jim Johnson likes to call “Chateauneuf-du-Bend,” a reference to the grapes’ Texas home town. This blend features Syrah, Cinsault, Grenache and Mourvèdre, with a touch of the aromatic Viognier added for good measure.

Kruger said the wine showed Johnson’s “Old World soul” in its rustic yet elegant nature, with a slight touch of barnyard on the nose.

The tasting concluded with the 2007 Inwood Estates Tempranillo, another grape that is gaining great reviews for its robust flavors and adaptability to Texas soil. Tasting this made me want a large glass alongside venison with a blueberry or huckleberry sauce.

Russ Kane of tweets.

Barretto pointed out an almost Port-like quality to the wine, though it was dry. That could be because the Tempranillo grape is related to Touriga Nacional, the major grape used in Port, Kane answered.

When the wine opened, huge aromas of toffee, caramel, cajeta and other sweet and creamy combinations seemed to explode from the glass, all the while maintaining its fruit flavor.

But don’t take my word for it. Or Krueger’s, Kane’s or any of the bloggers on the scene. Only you can tell you what kind of wine you’ll like. And you can sample four Texas wines for $10 every evening from 5 to 6 p.m. at Steinheimers in the Westin la Cantera, 16641 La Cantera Parkway. Krueger changes the selection regularly, so there’s always something new to taste.



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Wine Dinners for All Tastes Are Happening Thursday

Culinaria, the city’s food and wine festival, gets under way this week with a series of events designed for every taste. On Thursday, four wine dinners and a tequila dinner have been scheduled for a number of restaurants around the city.

The wine dinners will be at Las Canarias, the Lodge Restaurant of Castle Hills, Max’s Wine Dive and Francesca’s at Sunset, wihle chef Johnny Hernandez is hosting an Ambhar Tequila dinner.

David Launay, director of Chateau Gruaud Larose; Jean-Christopher Calvet, president of Aquitaine Wine Co.; and Dr. Richard and Bunny Becker of Becker Vineyards will host the six-course dinner at Francesca’s at Sunset in the Westin La Cantera, 16641 La Cantera Parkway. Highlights include wild salmon and prosciutto with Chateau St. Andre Corbin 2007; South Texas Antelope with Larouse de Gruaud 2007 and Becker Vineyards Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2009; and Texas Akaushi Beef with Foie Gras and Chateau Gruaud Larose 2006. Dinner is at 7 p.m. Cost: $110 a person plus tax and tip. Call 210-558-2253 for reservations.

Las Canarias at La Mansion del Rio, 112 College St., will feature the wines of Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars in a four-course meal plus cocktail reception. Highlights include Georges Bank Skate Wing with Karia Napa Valley Chardonnay 2008; Lavender Honey Lacquered Breast of Sonoma Duck with the Napa Merlot 2006; and Strube Ranch Wagyu with Artemis Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 and Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District 2007. Dinner begins at 7 p.m. Cost: $85 a person plus tax and tip.Call 210-518-1017 for reservations.

The Lodge Restaurant of Castle Hills, 1746 Lockhill Selma, will present wines from Erath of Oregon and Texas’ McPherson Cellars. highlights include Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho with Goat Cheese, Brioche and Basil with Erath Pinot Gris; Seared Diver Sea Scallop with Spring Farmers Market Palate and McPherson Viognier; Duo of Duck with Yukon Potato-Foie Gras Agnolotti plus Erath Pinot Noir and Erath Pinot Noir Estate Grown; and Porcini-crusted Sous Vide of Rack of Lamb with both McPherson Sangiovese and McPherson Tre Colore. A pre-dinner reception begins at 6:30 p.m. Cost: $85 a person, plus tax and 20-percent tip. Call 210-349-8466.

For information on the dinner at Max’s Wine Dive, call 210-444-9547. For information on Hernandez’s tequila dinner, call 210-822-9555.

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