Surveying The Suburban Wine Scene.
I'm not a wine snob. I know next to nothing about wine. But I do know, for instance, that Boone's Farm is pretty cheap and not that great, even if it gets the job done.
But, after a Valentine's Day trip out to the Mid-Cities, I know a little bit more. Like the fact that the City of Grapevine offers wine trails throughout the year and that it's a pretty great time — something to enjoy with friends, your significant other or even that second wife you keep on the side. It's a pleasant suburban surprise: There are several wineries producing several varieties of wines out in Grapevine, and they all have a different flavor to them.
Who knew? Not me, not before this week — although I guess it makes sense that, y'know, a city called Grapevine would jump on the gravy train that is the wine industry.
It's a nix mix, too. Some wineries grow their own grapes, others bring in grapes from other locations. And, generally, all of them bottle their wines on site.
It's pretty romantic, too. On this particular trip, I went with my wife on the Valentine's Wine Trial, which came with a crystal glass for each of us, a bottle of wine and three sample servings at each winery, plus a food sample. Not a bad take for $45 a person.
There are several trails throughout the year, but if you want to go cheap and sample a variety of wines, the wineries generally offer across-the-board samplings of three or four glasses for five or six bucks — total — during the week and on the weekends.
And most of the spots are worth checking out.
211 E. Worth Street
This was the best of the class when it came to the ambience, the people and the wine. They didn't really care if you had only three samples for the wine trail visit; they let you drink all day long. The wine was great: They had several varieties of reds and whites. And the people here really do care about what they do. They were inviting — the result, perhaps, of the fact that their business is set in an updated home, with seating outside to enjoy the weather. We tried a blend, the cabernet and the red zinfandel. All were good, full of aroma, full-bodied and not watered down.
Cross Timbers Winery
805 Main Street
Cross Timbers was where the wine trial started us off at, so our taste buds were at the optimal tasting condition. Also, we were completely sober. This winery too had a unique setting: There's a large sampling room in a barn and another in a house located near it. Everyone was super nice and informative, and the reds here were especially deep with taste. If you're heading out this way with a large group, Cross Timbers is probably your best option.
405 South Main Street
D'Vine has a deceptively great selection of wine for a place located smack dab in the middle of the downtown strip mall known as Main Street. I'd actually been to this winery before, and the last time I sampled wines here, the location had high top wine barrel tables conveniently located for ample seating. This time, for whatever reason, that nice touch had been removed. And, oddly enough, the restroom was roped off so no one could use it. Pretty inconvenient stuff, since this was most people's half-way stop on the seven-winery trip. On the plus side, D'Vine provided cheese and strawberries to complement the wine selection — the benefit of D'Vine being a franchise, most likely.
420 South Main Street
Farina is probably the best location for wine sampling in the Mid-Cities with its unique interior. While located in the same general location as D'Vine, the interior at Farina is superior. But the buck stops there. Farina sells wines other than theirs and only offered a couple of their wines to taste, which included a couple red wines short of the maximum three. Seriously: Why can't all places be like Homestead with the unlimited wine samplings? I just wanted my wines to be better here, and I wanted more variety. Sure, Farina did offer Fredericksburg wines to compensate. But if I wanted those wines, I would have gone to Fredericksburg.
La Buena Vida
416 East College Street
DFW International Airport (Terminals A15 and D14)
La Buena Vida and La Bodega joined forces for this wine trial, offering up their wines at the La Buena Vida location in Grapevine. La Bodega is unique: It's the only winery situated in an airport in the United States, meaning you can enjoy glasses of wine at either terminal A or D at the nearby DFW International Airport. For a matter of convenience, the winery offered its selection at La Buena Vida for the trail on this day. The place was great. Great music, great food. But, um, only one red wine to try. Are you kidding me? I did not come on this trip to be taunted for not drinking white wine, you guys. I came to enjoy my red wines! Anyway, major disappointment. Yeah, the location is great and huge. Just offer more reds, dudes. Or at least make sure that the one you have is better than just OK.
Su Vino Winery
120 South Main Street
Ah, Su Vino. It's the Subway restaurant of wineries in Grapevine. The wine varieties are limitless, but, alas, the quality is not quite there. I tried three of their red wines. The blend was OK. The pinot noir was OK. The cabernet was sour and spoiled. But the prices were cheap! Probably because they're pumping out as much wine as possible, but whatever.
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Overall, Grapevine's got a pretty great wine crawl on their hands.
And, listen, if you're hitting seven wineries, you're gonna get drunk. And, oftentimes, that's pretty much the whole point.