by Rosie Carbo, Texas Wine and Trail
The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, rated one of the top 10 botanical gardens in the country, was the pastoral site of this weekend’s 10th Anniversary Savor Dallas Food and Wine Festival. Although I’ve lived in the area for many years, I had never been to the DABG. So I admit that I was impressed by all the natural beauty.
The sprawling 66-acre floral paradise was an ideal setting for the first event of the three-day festival.Chef-prepared hors d’ oeuvres topped strategically placed tables around flower-lined paths and gardens. Tables and stands were also scattered about so that guests could pair their bites with Texas wines, beer and spirits. The soft sounds of light jazz filled the air as patrons strolled from one table to the next nibbling and sipping the evening away. If you’ve never been to the DABG, nestled beside iconic White Rock Lake, it’s worth the trip. And this spectacular food and wine tasting is a delicious way to experience the bucolic site, especially in early spring.
Sixty-degree temperatures felt ideal by 6:30pm kickoff time. The entire landscape was awash in colorful bluebonnets, tulips and a number of other flowers. The event coincided with the popular “Dallas Blooms,” an annual spring event. Some of the participating Texas wineries included: Fall Creek Vineyards, Becker Vineyards, Messina Hof, Kiepersol Estates and several others.
Chino Chinatown, Chipotle, Chef Pete Catering, Barter and E Bar Tex Mex were some of the restaurants represented. HANK Dessert Bars, Paciugo, Mozzarella Company and Highland Park Cafeteria were there, too.
Although this was not the first time I ever saw a sculpted shrub, the enormous one that caught my attention-and that of a throng of guests- was an enormous peacock. Camera-toting wine lovers and food enthusiasts leaped at the chance to add memories to this romantic soiree.
Friday evening could not have been more ideal for the annual Wine Stroll through the Dallas Arts District. Sunny skies and temperatures well over 75 degrees helped guests nibble and stroll freely from the Meyerson Symphony Center, the Cathedral Plaza across the street, and the Nasher Sculpture Center.
Wine and food lovers blazed a trail from the three locations to graze on chef-prepared bites from top local restaurants such as Dragonfly, Jorge’s TexMex, La Madeleine, Campuzano’s and others.
Stella Artois beer and cidre, along with Infuse Vodka and Knob Creek were sought out as much as a hefty array of wines. Chief among them were: Kendall Jackson, Cakebread Cellars, J. Lohr Vineyards, Louis Martini and many more. Texas wines were standouts at both events, which were Sold Out!
Saturday, the final day of the annual Savor Dallas festivities, saw temperatures plummet into the 50s. No worries. The day began with a warm “Winemaker’s Tasting Panel” at 11 am at the Omni Dallas Hotel’s Bob’s Steak and Chop House.
The standing-room-only discussion was hosted by Michael Green, a wine connoisseur who was formerly with Gourmet magazine. Green led the panelists, including winemakers from William Hill, Fall Creek Vineyards and Becker Vineyards in an eye-opening segment on viticulture.
This Winemaker’s event was followed by a “Stirring up Innovations” seminar on trends in cocktails mixology. Experts in the field of modern mixology led a discussion of what’s up and coming in mixed drinks. The event was also held in the Omni Dallas Hotel.
Although you can have too much of a good thing, the Reserve Tasting at 5 pm was a once-in-a lifetime opportunity to sip and savor the highest quality wines. Anyone who is a wine lover had to recognize some of the heavy hitters at this sold-out event.
Briefly, wines represented at the Reserve Tasting, included: Chateau Cos d’ Estourmel, Saint-Estephe, France 2008, Ruffino Greppone Mazzi Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, Tuscany 2007, Veuve Clicquot Brut Champagne NV, and many more too numerous to mention here.
The International Grand Tasting on Saturday evening was the highlight of the annual Savor Dallas festival. It attracted thousands of wine and food aficionados to the new Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, adjacent to the Omni Hotel.
Fashionistas love this event because, for one, they can strut their stuff in the latest fashion. Aside from that, the food is to die for. For example, I tasted creations from award-winning chefs such as Stephan Pyles of Stampede 66, Jason Weaver of Texas Spice and Pascal Cayet of Lavendou.There were more than 40 other restaurants represented at this annual favorite, including Nick and Sam’s, Nolan Ryan’s Texas Beef, Nicola’s, Meso Maya, Margaux’s Bridge Bistro and Max’s Wine Dive to name a few.
Saturday’s International Grand Tasting at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center also featured an annual Silent Auction. A long table across from the jazz band held exquisite gift boxes, fine wines and artisan beer available to the highest bidder. All proceeds from the Silent Auction benefit the North Texas Food Bank. The NTFB helps children, their families and senior citizens through a network of programs in 13 North Texas counties.
In retrospect, I’d say there was a beverage for every preference and perfectly-paired cuisine to boot. The key is to know your limits, listen to the weather and wear comfortable shoes. That said, I look forward to Savor Dallas’ 11th anniversary next year.
Header photo by Rob Wythe