by Robin English-Bircher, Wine Travel Writer, Texas Wine and Trail April 30, 2014
May 3rd marks the 140th Kentucky Derby. Though Kentucky may be quite far from Texas, a little bit of the fun can be found in the Texas Hill Country. Bending Branch Winery in Comfort will be hosting their 4th Annual Kentucky Derby Party alongside the southern festivities.
Guests can come out and enjoy the fun for free. Between 11am and 6pm, the winery grounds will be a welcome retreat for all ages. Guests will be able to relax and enjoy the spring weather – which looks to be warm but not too hot — beneath the trees. Phil Grota and Friends will be out again this year to provide the bright, jazz soundtrack for the day.
Activities for the day include a horseshoe tournament and a hat parade and contest. The tournament will take place for those wanting to challenge their throwing accuracy. For the creative, there will be a hat contest. The contest will have a number of categories, like most creative, wine inspired, etc. Guests of all ages are encouraged to design and assemble fun hats (last year a cute young boy joined the fun, as well as one gentleman). Before judging, each contestant will parade along the walk in front of the winery. After everyone has walked, the judges will confer and announce the results. I will be out with my third wine inspired hat and be competing against my own husband.
Of course, there will be plenty to eat and drink. As usual, the winery will have traditional Kentucky Derby fair – hot brown sandwiches – available. Bending Branch’s fine portfolio of wines will also be available. However, the highlight will be the Single Barrel Blanc Mint Juleps. The winery takes Picpoul Blanc aged in special barrels and combines it with fresh crushed mint and a sugar base. The may not be bourbon, the barrel aging provides a bourbon like character to “lip stinger.” The cocktail is lose to the real thing but lighter. In fact, when the day grows warm, these cocktails will be the perfect refresher.
And for those in need of a hat, Graciella’s Creations & Tula Hats will provide hats and accessories for sale. These regular vendors provide a selection of great hats. In addition, they do have a number of hat accessories for last minute decoration and design.
The main event is the Kentucky Derby. Just before race time, guests will be gathered to watch the parade of horses and then cheer on their favorites during the race. Last year, a large indoor venue was set aside for the viewing. It comfortably held the crowd and kept the glare off of the televisions, making viewing easy.
So, wear your best race day dress and cool shirt, find your best hat, and come out to Bending Branch for a fun day. Be prepared to relax and socialize, as well as cheer on your favorite horses. The Kentucky Derby Party is always a great time.
Bending Branch is located at 142 Lindner Branch Trail, Comfort, TX 78013 (click here for directions).