31st Wine & Food Festival

The year was 1984. George Orwell’s dyspeptic vision had not taken place—far from it.

Thoughts were not about Big Brother at the confluence of the Concho Rivers. They were about wine.

Mike Ellington, owner of Pinkie’s Liquor Stores in West Texas, organized the state’s first festival devoted to Texas wines. It was held at Fort Concho; proceeds benefited San Angelo Cultural Affairs Council.

Thirty-one years later, we still celebrate, and San Angelo has bragging rights to the oldest wine festival in Texas. Thank you Mike; thank you Pinkie’s.

The first stage of what is now a three-event celebration occurred in January when former White House Chef Walter Scheib dazzled diners with delightful stories and distinctive dishes.

Corks pop again Thursday, April 23, and Friday, April 24. Attend one or both events if you have even a passing interest in wine, food, or good times.

Thursday’s event—“Uncorked”—happens in the Cactus Hotel. Local restaurants serve specialties paired with a wine.

Friday’s event—“Fork & Cork Finale”—happens in The Stables at Fort Concho. It is a rip-roaring party with wine, beer, food, music, dancing, and whatever good times can be had within rules of decorum.

Cost is $50 for Uncorked, $40 for Fork & Cork Finale; the real deal is $75 for both.

The events benefit the San Angelo Cultural Affairs Council, a distinctly admirable entity. SACAC is dedicated to keeping San Angelo a tourist destination, cultural shinning light, and supporter of things that inspire better angels of our nature.

Call (325) 653-6793 for tickets. Advanced tickets are not required, but it helps planners to know how many are coming.

Tasting notes:

  • Duchman Family Winery Montepulciano 2012: Strikingly great earth, leather nose; black cherry, blackberry; very smooth, silky mouth, mild tannin, politely restrained oak, balancing acidity; delicious; Italian varietal, but this is 100 percent Texas juice. $11 (375 ml)
  • Messina Hof Cabernet Franc 2012: Rich, medium body, fruit forward palate pleaser; pepper and vanilla nose; blackberry, plum, cherry, herbal notes, pinch of tobacco; dry, low tannin, some acidity; good finish; nice Texas value. $13

Last round: Stone Age wine pairing: if it tried to eat us, serve red; if it tried to run away, serve white.