Written for Daily Hive by Vacay.ca Managing Editor Adrian Brijbassi
You might not know it, but Texas is big on wine. It is now the fourth-largest producer of wine in the United States. It has more than three times the number of wineries as British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley and grows a wide variety of grapes.
Each year, it is also home to GrapeFest, the largest wine festival in the southwest US.
So here is how you can get to know the wines of Texas, while also enjoying a visit to the Dallas-Fort Worth region.
The Gaylord Texan, a Marriot property, is so large guests need a map to locate all of its amenities. The hotel complex includes boutique stores, numerous bars and restaurants, a spa, and a cavernous nightclub, Glass Cactus. The Gaylord Texan is located in Grapevine, which is home to the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. The hotel offers shuttle transportation to and from the airport. Weekend room rates are about $350 per night (all dollar figures are in Canadian currency).
Executive chef Nicholas Ocando is well-respected in the Dallas area and the steaks at Old Hickory have a reputation of being exceptionally fine. The restaurant also has a stellar selection of local and international wines. A dinner here will help you get acquainted with the flavours and cuisine of Texas.
A massive buffet is offered to Gaylord Texan guests at Riverwalk Cantina, one of the many places to dine in the complex. You can choose from breakfast burritos, a variety of traditional egg dishes, decadent pastries and much, much more.
Messina Hof, a winery with a storefront location and tasting room in a renovated former Grapevine hotel, features several red and white varietals, all made with wines grown in Texas. The winery is on the town’s Main Street, which resembles a scene out of a Wild West movie. Grapevine is historic and charming, and so is Messina Hof. The winery makes a spicy red, its GSM (blended with Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre grapes), which is its biggest seller and a must-try during your tasting.
Housed in a renovated historic building on Grapevine’s Main Street, Umbra pays homage to Italy with its decor and some of its wines. The winery also has a sophisticated feel thanks to its modern decor, including an eye-popping bar top and large shelves housing its many bottles of wine.
Head 30 kilometres southwest to the Fort Worth Stockyards, home to vintage old-west heritage, including the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame, many bars and restaurants, and shops selling Western wear such as cowboy boots. The big attraction, though, is the daily cattle drive, which takes place just after 4 pm. About two-dozen Texas longhorns, one of the state’s enduring symbols, parade down the street, creating an enticing photo-op. From Grapevine, Fort Worth is accessible via a vintage train that takes about 75 minutes to complete a one-way journey.
Once you’ve returned from Fort Worth, head to Farina’s, another old-time Grapevine establishment, for a savoury dinner. The restaurant serves casual favourites, including pizzas and pastas, as well as steaks.
Return to the Gaylord Texan and get ready for a party at Glass Cactus, which is on the grounds of the hotel complex but requires a short shuttle ride for guests to access. The nightclub is frequented by many residents of the Dallas area and features DJs and live musicians. Gaylord guests enter for free.
The Cowboys Golf Club is a football fan’s dream — at least if you cheer for the team from Big D. Cowboys’ regalia, including replicas of the team’s five Super Bowl trophies, are on display in the club’s lobby. A pro shop sells jerseys and sports apparel. The course features a large blue star — the logo of the Dallas Cowboys. Once the possession of team owner Jerry Jones, the club remains the only NFL-themed golf club in the world. If you book a round of golf, you can enjoy a meal before and after you play.
Canadians love to shop in the U.S. Even when the exchange isn’t favourable, the prices still seem to be a bargain. In Texas, Canadians can also receive a refund on the sales tax on some purchases, including clothes. Bring your passport to Grapevine Mills and once you’ve completed your purchases, you can learn how to receive your refund at the Tax Free Shopping kiosk inside the Grapevine Mills outlet mall.
I had one of the best steak dinners of my life at Winewood Grill. It was a 12-ounce prime rib cooked medium rare and served with potatoes au gratin with mushrooms and truffles. Winewood, as its name suggests, also has a terrific wine list for you to peruse. Dinner here is an excellent way to finish off the final night on your Texas getaway.
Watching football in Texas is a must. If you’re in town on the day of a home game, you might be tempted to purchase Dallas Cowboys tickets and see America’s Team in action — though tickets will be very pricey. Or you can sit back at the Gaylord’s Texan Station Sports Bar & Grill and watch all the action from around the NFL before you head off to the airport for your flight home.