OREGON COASTLINE

October 19, 2019


The Oregon Coast Trail winds through smooth sandy shore, seaside cliffs, and Sitka spruce forests for almost four hundred (400) miles. From the mouth of the Columbia River to the California state line, this work in progress samples state parks, national forests, public beaches, and small coastal towns. Half the time there’s no trail at all, as the route traverses open sand shoreline. Get to know the lay of the land and the ways of the locals on this unconventional Oregon trek. 

Officially, the Oregon Coast Trail is three hundred and eighty-two (382) miles long, but the actual distance varies depending on how you choose to hike it. If you ferry across major bays and rivers, you can shave off about fifty (50) miles, mostly along road shoulders.

Several very interesting facts about the coast are as follows:

• Oregon offers shoppers the benefit of NO SALES TAX

 • Seventy-nine (79) State Parks – Ranging in size from large parks with camping, hiking trails, and beaches to small waysides with picnic tables and great views

 • Eleven (11) Lighthouses – Nine (9) are Historic Lighthouses, seven (7) of which are open to the public. The two (2) remaining lighthouses are private aids to navigation

• Eleven (11) Conde B. McCullough-designed Bridges – recently placed on the National Register of Historic Places

 • Cranberries – a major agricultural crop in the Bandon and Port Orford areas.  (Thought this was fascinating.)

OK, let’s now take the very brief pictorial trip my wife and I took several days ago.

You will get an idea as to the very rugged coast line from the picture below.  Steep cliffs, rugged shore line and driftwood-laden beaches.

In some areas along the coast the beaches are very wide and welcoming.  This is ideal for surfers and the occasional swimmer.

The hills to the east of the beaches are rarely higher than one thousand (1000) feet but due to the cliffs along the beach they appear to be much higher.

Notice the trees and foliage growing from the edge of the sandy beach to the top of the hills.  The trees are for the most part spruce or fir trees.

The digital below is taken from one of the seventy-nine (79) state parks along the way from north to south.  We are early risers so we got to the part about 0830 in the morning just as the fog was beginning to dissipate.

As mentioned earlier, there are eleven (11) lighthouses along the coast line.  Most are not operational but their beauty is obvious, especially against an October sky.

Do you like fish—really fresh caught this morning fish?  The coast of Oregon is the place to visit.  There are many, many boat docks along the coast.  We arrived at the dock shown below approximately noon one day to discover they had been to sea early in the morning, returned, disposed of their catch and were done for the day.  We also discovered the fish we were eating at lunch had been caught that very same morning. 

If you are looking for a place to visit with your family, I can definitely recommend the coast of Oregon.  Marvelous trip.  Think about it.

OH, THE PLACES WE WILL GO

October 17, 2019


If you have been reading my posts you know my wife and I recently traveled to Oregon.  Beautiful state!  One of the cities we visited was at the most northern end of the Willamette Valley, McMinnville. 

The map above will give you some idea as to where McMinnville is located.  If you look closely, you can see it is just southeast of Portland.  (I know this is difficult to see so just trust me on this one.)  You never know what you will find when you travel to a place you have never been before but this little city was a great and pleasant surprise. 

Their “official” web site indicates the following:

“McMinnville, Oregon is a warmhearted city of about 33,000 residents located in the heart of Oregon wine country, not too close — or too far– from the bustle of Oregon’s largest cities, Portland and Salem. Our Willamette Valley town is the seat of Yamhill County and officially became a city in 1882. Fast forward to today, McMinnville is a hub for those who appreciate the laid-back style of a small town with great taste. With over 220 wineries to sip at and an overwhelming amount of farm-to-table and artisan dining experiences to be had, you’ll find yourself having little time left to discover the rest of McMinnville’s attractions and charm.  The historic downtown area is the heart of the city and is “Oregon’s Favorite Main Street,” also known as Third Street. Downtown McMinnville is a stroll worthy stop with its tree-lined streets anchored by quaint boutiques, cool coffeehouses, and kitschy antiquaries punctuated with wine tasting rooms, craft breweries and bars, and a tasty mix of award-winning restaurants. Voted among the best main streets in America, the downtown core hosts a variety of events and community celebrations from the annual UFO Festival and Turkey Rama to weekly farmer’s markets. “

I have left the hyperlinks in their web site so you may gain additional information.  Given below is what we first saw when we entered the hamlet.

A little overcast when we got there, nevertheless, a beautiful little town.  Since McMinnville is somewhat of a tourist town, there were many really good restaurants waiting to be explored.  One such was La Rambla.  It was great and so great we ate there twice during our three-day visit.  Let’s take a look.

La Rambla:

I would invite you to take a look at their menu.  Hyperlink:  https://laramblaonthird.com/menu/. I won’t print out the entire menu but trust me, it’s worth taking a look.

The first thing you see when you walk in is the bar.

Well stocked with most of the wine produced in the Valley as well as the “hard stuff”.  The entire restaurant was furnished with oak, teak, and mahogany with craftsmanship you would find in historic residences.  It took time to look at the furnishings and wall hangings so we were there about thirty minutes after our meal was served and consumed.  The picture below shows a dining room that accommodates small parties. 

We had the paella and it was simply MARVELOUS.  The dish is shown below.  Our order served two people but a larger order, three or four. 

The following note is given on the menu so you will know you have a slight wait before you can sample the wonderful flavors.

It did take every bit of forty-five minutes but the wait was definitely worth it.  For those of you who need to be refreshed as to the origins of paella:

Paella (Valencian pronunciation: [paˈeʎa]; Spanish: [paˈeʎa]) is a Valencian rice dish that has ancient roots, but its modern form traces origins in the mid-19th century in the area around the Albufera lagoon on the east coast of Spain adjacent to the city of Valencia.  It originated in the fields of a region called Valencia on the eastern coast of Spain. Today paella is made in every region of Spain; using just about any ingredient that goes well with rice.

The dish Paella is said to be a perfect union between two cultures from Spain, the Romans, for the pan and the Arab, that brought rice.

There is an old story of how the Moorish kings’ servants created rice dishes by mixing the left-overs from royal banquets in large pots to take home. It is said by some that that word paella originates from the Arab word “baqiyah” meaning left-overs. The term Paella actually refers to the pan that it is cooked in. All the way back to the ancient Sanskrit language the term Pa means …to drink, and the Roman culture from the Latin made words like Patera, Patina, Patella which could mean a container to drink, or perform other culinary functions.

It would seem that paella might be a natural dish, since rice is grown in Spain, and all meats, and seafood in some regions are plentiful.  Since there are many workers in the fields, cooking it over an open fire also would be the most practical. Spain is not known for forests and lots of timber, so the small available twigs and branches from pruning that are green gave a quick hot fire instead of a slow burning one from logs.


So, the size of the pan grew instead of the depth, so you could get a hot fire a maximum evaporation.

The pan, shown above, is characterized by being round with a flat bottom.
The pan can be anywhere from a LP record 12 inches in diameter to several feet. The one thing that doesn’t change is the height. It is about first joint in the thumb deep as the Spanish would say, so that the rice has maximum contact with the bottom of the pan.  It evolved, starting with a rounded bottom, designed to hang over a fire. It is thought that as soon as some sort of grill or flat top burner was invented that the pans started to become flatter at the bottom.

Our paella was served in the pan it was cooked in and it was HOT with a capital “H”.  I mean we cooled each bit when we started to keep from visiting the local ER.  Our entire meal took well over an hour to eat but that was just fine.  Paella, wine, great bread, great atmosphere, what else could  you want on a vacation?


I think EVERY city, town, municipality, etc. has an obligation to provide its citizens with “stuff to do”.  A reason to go downtown whether that reason be dining, a waterfront event or a specific festival.  Roaming the streets is really not that interesting unless that “roaming” is associated with an event.  The movers and shakers in Chattanooga, Tennessee recognize that fact and constantly look for events to attract people to the downtown area.  Well, we have a new one.

Take a look at this news release:

“What separates the inaugural Chattanooga MotorCar Festival from other car shows that roll through Chattanooga?

Chattanooga MotorCar Festival is the only car event to offer a Concourse, a Rallye and time trials on a closed circuit — not to mention multiple family activities.

It all takes place in downtown Chattanooga’s West Village and on the riverfront when the first MotorCar Festival, presented by DeFoor Brothers and sponsored by Volkswagen of America, takes place Friday-Saturday, Oct. 11-12.

Hundreds of exotic, significant, one-of-a-kind cars — some from as far back as the early 1900s — are rolling into town Thursday to compete in the time trials and/or be shown in the Concours on the grounds of the Westin Hotel.

Of the 120 cars accepted for the Concourse, expect to see a 1928 Isotta Fraschini 8A Super Sprinto, a 1966 McLaren M1B Can-Am race car, a rare 1952 Porsche 356A 1500 Super America Roadster and Wayne Carini’s Moal Speedway Special.”

IF YOU GO:

* What: Chattanooga MotorCar Festival

* Where: West Village and Riverfront Parkway

* When: 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 11; 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 12

* Admission: $35 one-day pass, $55 two-day pass, $145 two-day VIP Package, ages 15 and younger are free but their admission to events will match the ticket level of their accompanying adult

* For more information: https://www.chattanoogamotorcar.com

My wife and I did go but preceded that event with a wonderful dinner at La Paloma.  If you love Italian and Spanish food, if you love tapas, if you love good wine—go to La Paloma.

Given below are several digital photographs from that “street scene”.

For the event, the streets around West Village and Riverfront Parkway were blocked off to through traffic.  Only foot-traffic was tolerated. This, of course, allowed participants to walk freely to the stage, the restaurants and other venues within the area. 

You can get an idea of the various entities within the West Village from the street signs above.  This is representative of a very few places you can go from the center point of the area.

The band was truly great and local. Priacilla and Little Ricky.  I have no idea as to how they got their name but they were really good and played music we all knew and could sing to if nuged just a little.  When we sat down at La Paloma they were playing Margueritaville. No rap, no heavy metal, etc. just good music.

You really need to visit Chattanooga, Tennessee.  The event above is only a small portion of what’s available.  Great place to live and visit.

Willamette Damn It

October 12, 2019


This past week my wife and I visited the Willamette Valley in the state of Oregon.  (By the way, it’s Will-am-met or as the locals say—Willamette Damn It.)  We had never been to Oregon but by the end of the very first day we knew we had selected one of the most beautiful states in the U.S for our visit.  The time of year was excellent also.  Weather was beautiful; mid-sixties, clear blue skies, fluffy white clouds.  You get the picture.

 Let’s do some homework first then we will take a pictorial trip into the Willamette Valley wine country.  The map you see below is courtesy of the Willamette Valley Wine Association and indicates the length and width of the wine-growing area within the valley itself.

MAP OF VALLEY AND GEOGRAPHY

The Willamette Valley is a one hundred and fifty (150) -mile long valley in Oregon. A state, as you know, located in the Pacific Northwest. The Willamette River flows the entire length of the valley, and is surrounded by mountains on three sides – the Cascade Range to the east, the Oregon Coast Range to the west, and the Calapooya Mountains to the south.  The geography; i.e. mountains protecting the valley below, etc. is the main reason wine-growing is possible and plentiful.  We were told the winds blowing west to east from the coast provide much-needed moisture during dryer seasons. 

The valley is synonymous with the cultural and political heart of Oregon, and is home to approximately seventy (70%) percent of its populationincluding the six largest cities in the state: Portland, Eugene, Salem, Gresham, Hillsboro and Beaverton.   Eight of Oregon’s top ten most populated cities, and sixteen (16) of its top twenty (20) – are located in the Willamette Valley.

The valley’s numerous waterways, particularly the Willamette River, are vital to the economy of Oregon, as they continuously deposit highly fertile alluvial soils across its broad, flat plain. From observation, we noticed the soil being as black as pitch indicating a very desirable condition for growing just about anything.   A massively productive agricultural area, the valley was widely publicized in the 1820s as a “promised land of flowing milk and honey”. Throughout the 19th century it was the destination of choice for the oxen-drawn wagon-trains of emigrants who made the perilous journey along the Oregon Trail.

Today the valley is often considered synonymous with “Oregon Wine Country”, as it contains more than nineteen thousand (19,000) acres of vineyards and over five hundred wineries.  The climate of the Willamette Valley is Mediterranean with oceanic features. This climate is characterized by very dry and mostly cloudless summers, ranging from warm to occasionally very hot, followed by cool, rainy, and consistently cloudy winters. The precipitation pattern is distinctly Mediterranean, with little to no rainfall occurring during the summer months and over half of annual precipitation falling between November and February.  In other words, ideal for agriculture including wine-growing.  We also noticed the acre after acre of hazelnut trees. 

PICTORIAL TOUR:

Now that we know a little bit about the geography and location, let’s take a digital tour of the valley, the vineyards, and a few of the wineries.  As mentioned, there are over five hundred so obviously we only toured those being more prominent and having wine-tasting facilities.  Apparently, there is a considerable difference between the grapes, consequently the wine, grown in the valley as opposed to the hills surrounding the valley.  You will notice the rolling countryside and the acres of vines planted.  In the higher elevations, it was harvest time.  In the valley, the harvest had already been completed. When I talk about hills, the elevations are generally under one thousand feet but that certainly does make a difference in the quality and type of grapes grown. 

 One issue this year was the number of pickers available for harvest.  They are paid by the bucket which I thought was very interesting although I do not know how else that could be done.  In every case, the harvesting was accomplished by hand and no automatic equipment was used.  The picking is contracted using companies responsible for hiring temporary workers—mostly Hispanic.  When the harvest is completed, they move on to other areas of our country. 

The most beautiful vineyards were at elevation and not on the valley floor.  For this reason, most of the pictures I took are in the hills.  Let’s take a look.  You will notice the rolling countryside and neatly planted rows of vineyards.

COUNTRYSIDE:

There were some non-paved roads in the higher elevations requiring four-wheel drive.  This really surprised me but that’s just the way it is.  Notice the gently sloping elevation changes.  All of the vines are accessible even though the elevation changes.

The picture below is one of the most beautiful landscapes we came across.  I have no idea as to what flowers these were. 

As mentioned earlier, the harvest in the valley was complete but not in the hills.  You can see the grapes ready for picking and just hanging on the vines.

As you can see, the grapes are very accessible so a picker could move very quickly and fill a bucket in quick time.

WINERIES:

The wineries were absolutely striking in design and size.  I have no idea as to how much investment was necessary to bring about the overall facilities.  One thing that did surprise us was the recent construction of the largest wineries.  These facilities were not decades old but fairly new.  We are now going to look at three wineries that we thought were absolutely beautiful inside and out.  In each case, of course, we were introduced to the wine produced by these facilities.  Great tasting and fabulous.  On one case, the wine was so good we joined their wine club.  Let’s take a look.

One thing that was striking—the landscaping leading up to all of the facilities. Immaculate, well-planned and well-maintained.

The digital above shows the “wine store”. Please note, not only wine but “T” shirts and other clothing as well as cork-screws, wine containers, etc. 

The next three photos show a grotto area used for parties, dinners and wine tasting.  The construction was fascinating.  Notice the very careful placement of the individual stones lining the room.  All walls and ceiling were lined with these flat stones.

The second winery we visited was quite different in design from the first but spacious—very spacious.  The staff was planning a wedding reception during our brief visit so the place was buzzing with anticipation of the event.

Third and last winery I will show you is below.  This winery was started some years ago by immigrants from Iran.  When the Shaw was disposed they traveled to the United States to start a new life.  We met one of the owners and discussed with him the  history of their travels and how they found Oregon to settle.  Fascinating story. 

This is the tasting room below

The wall hanging shown below is an actual Persian carpet brought from Iran during their exit from that country.

PRODUCTION:

The object below is, believe it or not, a wine press from years ago.  This is how they used to do it.   How long would it take to press the grapes using that device?  The picture following the hand-cranked wine press shows the storage units and associated plumbing now used in modern-day wine making.  Big difference.

You can see wine making is big business in today’s world and it takes a huge investment in equipment and manpower to maintain the industry.

CONCLUSION:

I can definitely recommend to you a visit to Oregon and the Willamette Valley.  Marvelous time but be sure to check the weather and go during the proper season.


As a private pilot, it is my opinion that the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) does a fantastic job.   The “guys and dolls” in the tower have amazing responsibilities for air safety and perform in an extremely admirable fashion. There are approximately fifteen thousand (15,000) federal air traffic controllers on the job every day at three hundred and fifteen (315) FAA air traffic facilities around the country, managing more than eighty-seven thousand (87,000) daily flights across U.S. airspace.  There is an FAA requirement that trainees begin their training at the Academy no later than their thirty-first (31st) birthday, and face mandatory retirement at age fifty-six (56). However, retired military air traffic controllers may qualify for appointment after reaching thirty-one (31) years of age.  You may ask, why retirement at such an early age? STRESS, that’s the reason.  Also, why the minimum age of thirty-one?  They do NOT want kids in the tower playing around, chasing skirts, popping bubblegum.

 I would ask you to look at the chart below and you will get some idea as to the number of passengers traveling in today’s world. Please note that in this list are four (4) airports in the United States.  Number one—Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta with 107.4 million passengers coming and going in 2018.  Can you imagine the number of flights twenty-four (24) hours a day needed to transport this many passengers?  The coordination and attention to detail is staggering.  The people in the tower do it all. 

We want to look at what will be the newest international airport – China’s Beijing Daxing International Airport.  Before we look at the digitals, let’s get background information on the airport itself. (NOTE: Information comes from ChinaDaily.com web site.)

DETAILS:

Construction of Beijing Daxing International Airport has been completed after five years of frenzied activity. When the mega-airport begins operation on September 30 of this year, it will be the world’s largest single-terminal airport at 700,000 square meters – the size of ninety-eight (98) soccer fields. The eighty (80) billion-yuan ($11.7 billion) facility, which is forty-six (46) kilometers south of downtown Beijing, will serve as a second international airport for the capital. It is designed to relieve the pressure of rising demand for air travel on Capital International Airport in northeastern Beijing.

With seven runways planned, including one for military use, the new airport will ultimately handle more than 100 million passengers a year, matching Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in the United States. The US airport is currently the world’s busiest, receiving more than one hundred (100) million passengers per year, but across two terminals.  We see this from the chart above.  For Atlanta, there are two terminals, one domestic and one international.

Guo Yanchi, chief engineer in charge of construction work at the new Beijing facility, said: “The Daxing airport is the world’s largest integrated transportation hub. The terminal building is also the world’s largest built with a seamless steel structure, boasting the world’s first design of double-deck departure and double-deck arrival platforms.” This is a marvelous engineering feat and demonstrates China’s ability to create world-class structures.  We got a glimpse of that from the Olympic Summer Games a few years ago. 

In barely seven decades, China has transformed from a nation with a handful of shabby, makeshift airports to being home to aviation super-hubs – the result of the country’s rapid economic development and greater openness to the outside world.  According to the Civil Aviation Administration of China, there were thirty-six (36) airports in 1949, most of which could handle only small aircraft. The number had soared to two hundred and thirty-six (236) by the end of June, with about seven new airports coming online each year in the past decade.

Beijing Capital International Airport, the first airport for commercial flights after the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, featured just one 2,500-meter runway when it opened in 1958, and had a terminal covering about 100,000 square meters.

“Even during peak time, the airport was only able to handle fewer than two hundred and fifty (250) passengers per hour, most of whom were government officials,” said Liu Zhaolong, a consultant with the China Civil Airports Association, adding that ordinary citizens at that time had to buy tickets to visit the airport.  Last year, the airport, which now has three terminals but is hitting full capacity, handled more than 100 million passengers, making it the second-busiest in the world after Atlanta’s airport. (Again, please take a look at the chart above.)

China has been gearing up to boost its general aviation industry as the country undergoes a huge expansion into the world of flying, with an increasing number of Chinese taking to the skies.

Chinese airports handled 1.26 billion passenger trips in 2018, compared with four hundred and eighty-six (486) million ten (10) years ago, a year-on-year increase of eleven (11) percent, said Zhang Rui, deputy director of the administration’s Airport Department. Thirty-seven of the country’s airports handled more than ten (10) million passengers in just one year, he added.

China has built an international air network with 844 routes, connecting 167 cities in 61 countries. It has also signed intergovernmental civil air transportation agreements or established civil aviation connections with 125 countries and regions, according to the administration’s statistics in September last year.

“Historically, China’s domestic market dwarfed international services, but airlines have been rapidly stretching their wings in the past decade, thanks to the country’s reform and opening-up policy, as well as people’s soaring outbound tourism demands,” said Li Xiaojin, a professor of aviation economics at Civil Aviation University of China in Tianjin.  According to the International Air Transport Association’s forecast, China will become the world’s largest civil aviation market by 2024-25, and the air passenger volume in the Chinese market is expected to reach 1.6 billion by 2037.   Li Xunlei, chief economist for the financial institution Zhongtai Securities, said in a report that about 1 billion Chinese people have never boarded a plane, which serves as strong evidence that the country’s current airports will not be able to meet demand in just a few years. China must step up its efforts to renovate existing facilities and build new airports, the report said.

Beijing Daxing International Airport

Let’s now take a quick look at what will be the newest airport in the world.  As you will see it’s expansive.

Given below shows the basic layout of the terminal with runways on either side to facilitate access to the gates.

The drawing below is a rendition of the internal design showing the various traffic patterns and elevations. 

If you saw any of the Summer Games from China, you will recognize the “bird cage” design.  This design has been adopted for the “super-structure” for the main terminal.

Once again, we see the smooth lines and basic traffic flow internal for the terminal.

You must admit, this is a striking design using the latest engineering and architectural concepts.  I hope to travel to China some day and I certainly will book the tickets to arrive at Daxing.

WINE

July 18, 2019


Okay, when you think of wine, I mean the good stuff, what country or countries do you automatically think of?  Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Argentina.  In looking at available data, we may see the following pie chart indicating the top ten (10) wine-growing countries in the world.

I do not think there are any real surprises here.

The chart below will help quantify amounts.  (NOTE: 1 Hectare is equivalent to 2.47105 acres.)  I was surprised that the United States constitutes a large wine-growing country and is fourth on the list.

For the past week and one-half my wife and I visited our family in Austin and Dallas.  Our son and daughter-in-law purchased property in the Johnson City area, and we were there for a brief visit.  During that visit, we scheduled two wine-tasting events during the first afternoon.  I was very much surprised at the quality of the wine and certainly did not know that much about grape growing and wine production in the hill country of Texas.  Let’s take a look.

TEXAS HILL COUNTRY WINERIES:

Texas Hill Country Wineries is a non-profit trade association, established in 1999 by a group of eight (8) wineries to promote their tasting rooms and wine production. Over the years the group of eight (8) grew to sixteen (16), twenty-four (24), thirty-two (32), forty-two (42) and now over fifty (50). The purpose of the association is to promote the development of member wineries by promoting Hill Country produced wines thereby; increasing the number of visitors and overall awareness of the industry. There is a diversity of passion in the personalities of the many member wineries, cultivating a spectacular experience for the adventurous visitors and wine lovers to share unparalleled hospitality. The community of Texas Hill Country Wineries presents the independent origins of the craft while promoting the winery membership.

To increase traffic to the tasting rooms, the membership created five (5) unique wine trails throughout the year. To this day THCW still hosts four (4) of those original events, including Wine Lovers Celebration, Wine & Wildflower Journey, Texas Wine Month Passport and the Christmas Wine Affair. These events are self-guided driving tours, with wineries offering tastings and discounts. Along the way, you might meet winemakers and owners, hearing first-hand their enthusiasm for what they do. The events are also a chance to enjoy legendary Hill Country musicians, artists, chefs and entertainers of all kinds.

THCW has grown with more than just winery members and trail events. Industry education events focused on growing grapes in Texas, winemaking, marketing and overall business are hosted throughout the year to support Texas wineries across the state. In 2015, a scholarship fund was created with a portion of event ticket sales and profits to award Texas students working towards a degree supporting the wine industry. Over the past few years, approximately $27,000 has been awarded and the program is thriving. A Board of seven (7) THCW members, with the support of the Grower, Winemaker, Marketing, Events, Legislative and Community Outreach Committees, oversee all planning and operations for the association, making all of the events, scholarships and more possible for members.

We now are going to take a tour of the two wineries we visited during that day.

LEWIS WINERY:

Lewis Wines is located in Johnson City and is owned by Doug Lewis and Duncan McNabb. Both Doug and Duncan handle all the winemaking, sales, etc. The winery opened February 2013. Doug and Duncan were roommates in college and have been friends since. Doug worked at Pedernales Cellars helping winemaking, harvesting, and anything else which needed doing. Duncan would also help out too. They started making a few barrels of wine at Pedernales to learn the craft of winemaking, and in 2011 they started thinking about making commercial wine. Thus, the hatching of the idea of Lewis Wines began.

The digital below shows the entrance to the Lewis Winery.

The pavilion where the tasting occurred is given below.  As you can see, plenty of space with a covered pavilion.  You can see some of the acreage in the background.

The wine is served up from the “tasting bar” inside the facility and as you can see, it is well-equipped

We were served four (4) wines from the menu given below.  Also, there were meat, fruit, jellies and cheese trays ordered to accompany the wines.

WILLIAM CHRIS WINERY:

The William Chris Winery was approximately eight (8) miles from the Lewis Winery.  The tasting here was all outside but under a covered area as you will see from the pictures below.  The entrance to the facility is shown in the first digital.

When you go around the corner you see the path to the actual tasting area.

You can get some idea as to the size of the vineyard from the area below.  This area is used for a great many events such as weddings, graduation ceremonies, birthday parties, corporate events, etc.

Owners and winemakers, Bill Blackmon and Chris Brundrett, sat down together at a Hill Country bar one night and discovered they shared a similar philosophy for winemaking. They believe that the way to put Texas on the map as a respected wine region is to promote wines made exclusively from Texas grown fruit.

WILLIAM ‘BILL’ BLACKMON

Bill Blackmon holds 30 years of winegrowing experience in Texas, having planted and managed several of the state’s earliest and finest vineyards in both the High Plains and the Hill Country. Beginning in the late 1970s, after graduating from Texas Tech with a degree in agriculture and economics, Bill worked with some of the early wineries in the Lubbock area. In the following decade, he planted and managed vineyards in the High Plains, including the Hunter Family Vineyard. In the 1990’s he moved to Fredericksburg to plant some of the first vineyards in the Hill Country, including the estate vineyard Willow City, Granite Hill Vineyards.

 CHRIS BRUNDRETT

Chris Brundrett has established a career in the Hill Country as one of the state’s fastest rising young winegrowers. While earning a horticulture degree from Texas A&M, Chris spent time in the Hill Country, acquiring experience in the winery and the vineyard. He then quickly proceeded to take on head winemaking responsibilities for several wine labels, managing vineyard properties in both the Hill Country and the High Plains. In 2017, Chris was honored with the Outstanding Alumni Award from Texas A&M University. The following year, Wine Enthusiast Magazine tapped him as a winemaker that is changing the face of American wine.

What began as an acquaintance as winemakers in the Hill Country became a collaboration between Bill and Chris, focusing on a shared winemaking philosophy. As the word ‘winegrowers’ implies, Bill and Chris agree that great wines are not made but grown. They also believe that wine should be inspired by the pleasure that is shared with an extended community of friends and family. The creation of each new vintage depends greatly upon these two priorities.

The next two digital pictures show just some of the vines now growing on their property.  Our server indicated that harvest is just around the corner.

I was certainly surprised as to the quality of the wine and the wide variety available.  Naturally, we came home with several bottles.  Hope you can make the visit someday.

TEXAS HILL COUNTRY

July 16, 2019


For the past two weeks, my wife and I visited our youngest son and his family in Dallas, Texas.   They recently purchased several acres in the Hill Country very close to Johnson City, Texas.  Now, being from east Tennessee, I need to explain their definition of “hills” just might not be my definition of “hills”.  A hill is not always a hill but I will say this, the country is striking and extremely beautiful.  I was certainly taken back by the topography and the countryside itself.  I lost count of the number of deer we stopped for on the way to their property.  A two-lane winding road about two (2) miles from Johnson City brought us to their property.

JUST WHERE IS THE HILL COUNTRY

The Texas Hill Country is a geographic region located in the Edwards Plateau at the crossroads of West Texas, Central Texas, and South Texas.  Given its location, climate, terrain, and vegetation, the Hill Country can be considered the border between the American Southwest and Southeast.

The region is notable for its karst topography and tall rugged hills of limestone or granite. Many of the hills rise to a height of four to five hundred (400-500) feet above the surrounding plains and valleys, with Packsaddle Mountain rising to a height of eight hundred (800) feet above the Llano River in Kingsland. The Hill Country also includes the Llano Uplift and the second-largest granite dome in the United States, Enchanted Rock. The terrain throughout the region is punctuated by a thin layer of topsoil and a large number of exposed rocks and boulders, making the region very dry and prone to flash flooding.  Native vegetation in the region includes various Yucca, prickly pear, cactus, dessert spoon, and wildflowers in the Llano Uplift. The predominant trees in the region are ashe juniper and Texas live oak.

Bound on the east by the Balcones Escarpment, the Hill Country reaches into the far northern portions of San Antonio and the western portions of Austin. As a result of springs discharging water stored in the Edwards Aquifer, several cities such as Austin, San Marcos, and New Braunfels were settled at the base of the Balcones Escarpment. The region’s economy is one of the fastest growing in the United States.

The two figures below will give you some idea as to the region and cities within the Hill Country.

As you can see, the hill country is just about in the middle of the state and provides the crossroads between east / west and north/south. 

Below are some of the most prominent towns in the area that make up the Hill Country.

  • San Marcos
  • Boerne
  • New Braunfels
  • Wimberley
  • Canyon Lake/Spring Branch
  • Fredericksburg
  • Kerrville
  • Luckenbach
  • Johnson City

As you can see, small towns: no big cities: no traffic problems: no congestion.

Given below are digitals taken from their property.  You can see there is a pretty rugged landscape with rock outcroppings. 

The digital below does not do justice to the sun set.  It was simply beautiful.  After sun set, you can see thousands of stars and I mean thousands of stars.  Even though it was really hot during the daytime, when the sun goes down the heat radiates from the ground very quickly and the humidity seems to drop considerably.

Nothing runs like a Deere—John Deere that is.  My son quickly found that a push mower was not even close to the equipment needed to mow even a small portion of the property .

One thing that concerns me—maybe two things.  Number one—rattlesnakes and scorpions.  I’m also told that chiggers are “abundant” in this area.  Our youngest grandson is two years old and apparently fearless. 

As always, I’m interested in your comments.  Please feel free.

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