Sunday, October 16, 2011

Full Immersion

One has to know that the Italian influence has gone deep when the official wine of the 125th Texas State Fair is a Sangiovese. I never thought I’d see that day, but last week while giving an informal talk about the history of Texas wine (bet you didn’t know I knew something about that) I not only came across the wine but also uncovered a treasure trove of information about wine and grapes in the early days of Texas wine lore.

To say that I love the Texas state fair is an understatement. Who could not when it is in one’s own home town? For as long as I have lived here I have been drawn to the timeless aspect of our yearly festival. Three weeks long, with food, beer, wine, and any number of imponderables.

The architecture – reminds me a little of the style made popular in the 1930’s in Italy. In that country it had fascist and nationalist leanings. In Texas, it was given over more to the deco affectation. Although, the sculptures, influenced by Italian artisans brought in when the construction was underway, they could have been just as naturally placed in Milan, Rome or even Predappio.

But we are in Texas, as a stroll to the Midway will attest. And on the Midway, there is a confluence of tasteful architecture with the mind numbing glitz of Venturi's Vegas gone bad – trailer trash meets E.T. – bizarre stuff – but charming and somehow alluring to this observer.

But what does it have to do with wine and the wine trail and Italy? In reality, nothing much. But it is colorful. So much to that I found myself lingering, gazing at the impossibly dizzying rides and the people that inhabit the space. Fascinating. I have taken my Italian friends to the Texas State Fair; it’s quite unusual and delicious.

At the wine garden, folk were sitting out enjoying jazz and wine. I glanced at the offerings and thought back over the last generation of wine from Texas and how it has improved vastly. A Sangiovese as the official wine of the state fair of Texas? Whodathunkit?

Tasting wine with a winemaker, we got to talking about her area, near Montague County. Come to find out there is an abandoned vineyard there started by Munson. Vines up to 100 years old. Not far from where I picked grapes to make the only wine I ever made in Texas many moons ago. I plan on taking the winemaker up on the offer to visit this heritage site, available only by permission. Putting it on my must do list before the end of the year.

Look, Texas is its own place, for better or worse. Sometimes I get frustrated with the lack of progressiveness in the political end. It’s still run on the buddy system a lot. And folks around here don’t have a lot of tolerance for East (or West) coasters. Although they love to brag about going to New York or Napa. But going home – full immersion in this independent life in Texas – there is a definite draw to it.

And when I am out of the state, and gone for a while, there develops a longing to be back home. Even before I leave, I start counting the days I have left to sleep in my own bed. Hop a plane to New York or Milan, and I’m OK. But when the time is up, I am ready to get in the truck.

Maybe it’s just the sense that I have a place to go home to. No, it isn’t New York, or California, or Tuscany. But it’s home. For the time being.


George said...

Was the sangiovese from Italy or grown in the USA?

Alfonso Cevola said...

the Sangiovese is grown in the High Plains of Texas

Jo Diaz said...

I'd love to read a book about the history of Texas wine. Is there one? I know that it must have initially been influenced by the Spanish padres; but beyond that, what a great story it must be.

Alfonso Cevola said...

Jo -

The Grape man of Texas

I reviewed it over at Vinography a while back - great book

Russ Kane is also writing a book as we speak - Russ is the Texas wine trail guy - look for his book next year - thanks for stopping by!

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