Spring is stunning in Dallas. It’s probably the best time of year to live in our great city. But if you have a little spring fever and you’re looking for a reason to get out of town on a long weekend, here are a few ideas over the coming months that are great excuses to hop on a plane or take a road trip.
The last weekend of the month is a busy one around the state. Not only is the inaugural Dallas John Wayne Film Festival happening right here in town, but several food and wine events are happening as well. The 10th annual Buffalo Gap Wine and Food Summit brings chefs, winemakers, farmers ,and ranchers from throughout the state to this little town outside Abilene for a three-day festival that is all about Texas. Chef Stephan Pyles has been a part of this event from early on, joined this year by chefs Janice Provost (Parigi), John Bonnell (Bonnell’s Fine Texas Cuisine), and Katherine Clapner (Dude, Sweet Chocolate), along with a slew of Texas wineries, like Becker, Brennan, Duchman and McPherson. My good friends Dr. Clay Cockerell of Coquerel Family Wine Estates and Nicole Stotesbery Duncan of Ladera Vineyards, both in Napa, will be there as well. The event, which takes place on the Perini Ranch in Buffalo Gap, TX, was founded by Tom Perini of Perini Ranch Steakhouse, the late Fess Parker of Fess Parker Winery & Vineyards, and Dr. Richard Becker of Becker Vineyards as a non-profit with a goal to “cultivate the appreciation of fine wine and food through education and industry discussion.” It is a great party. Tickets to the events are limited, but if you can’t get in this year ,keep it on the calendar for next year as it is worth the drive out to West Texas. Details on ticketing here.
If Austin is more your scene, the Austin Food and Wine Festival, presented by Food & Wine will also take place the last weekend of April, starting on the 25th. It wrangles in celebrity chefs like Richard Blais, Ming Tsai, Graham Elliot and our own Kent Rathbun, Tim Love, and Matt McCallister. They’ll cook beside Austin favorites Tyson Cole and Paul Qui in a three-day celebration of food, wine, spirits, beer, and, of course, music. Though Texas wines and spirits are at the forefront of this event ,too, the drinks line-up gets a little more international with selections from all over the world, like Napa Valley’s Amici and Hall Wines, Chateau St. Michelle in Washington, Italy’s favorite aperitif Campari, Wines of Rioja and Brazil, and even a special area to recharge and relax during all that tasting, Casa Mariposa created by Kim Crawford Winery. It gives guests a welcome reprieve to kick back for a while in the midst of the festivities. Details and ticketing available here.
Prefer something a little more laid back in Hill Country? Head down to Fredricksbrug on April 26 for a one-day celebration of Texas food, wine, and music at the 5th Annual Hill Country Wine and Music Festival. Tickets for the one day celebration are only $25, which includes a handful of tickets to taste selections from Texas wineries like Fall Creek, Messina Hof, Fredricksburg Winery and more, while listening to local music among the bluebonnets at Wildseed Farm in Fredricksburg. Tickets available here.
One of my favorite events every year is Auction Napa Valley, taking place this year June 5 to 8, both because they do know how to throw a great party in wine country, but also because it benefits some of the most important people in the valley’s wine business, the workers and children of Napa Valley. It helps provide healthcare, housing, and educational services. We drink a lot of Napa wine in Dallas, so I can personally appreciate the incredible work the Napa Valley Vintners Association, hosts of this annual event, do to create an incredible four-day celebration of food and wine, centered around the luxurious Meadowood Resort and Spa, in the heart of Napa Valley. The Napa Valley Vintners Association is made up of over 400 of the best wineries in Napa, so at some point during the weekend celebration you will have a chance to taste some stellar juice, often while dining with its owner and winemaker in their caves or on their expansive patios overlooking the breathtaking valley. Last year, the 33rd annual event raised $16.9 million, breaking all previous record. Details and tickets are available here.