When I had my Great Wine Revelation – a bottle of Barolo, smuggled back from Italy in a very heavy suitcase, in 2006 – I immediately started searching the Internet for wine education classes in my area.
Mr. Google was no help. Neither was Ms. Yahoo, nor Bing, whatever gender it happened to be at the time. I wanted to learn about wine, from the ground up, and no one wanted to teach me face-to-face. So instead, I educated myself, buying and reading every wine book at every used bookstore I could find – and swearing that someday, it wouldn’t be this hard to learn about wine in Central Texas.
Later that year, I started working weekends in the tasting room at Dry Comal Creek Vineyards, and in 2007 I started laboring through an online wine class that dominated six months of my free time.
Twenty pounds later, Winery U was born with a series of wine classes at Dry Comal Creek. Once a month, we had wine for breakfast, rotating through four courses: an introduction, sensory evaluation, viticulture and winemaking, then food and wine pairings.
From those humble beginnings, Winery U has grown to the point where I am teaching 12 different classes a year. Aside from the original four, there also now are sessions on everything from Texas to West Coast wines, sparkling to fortified, Cabernet Sauvignon to the hybrid grape known as Black Spanish and/or Lenoir that is growing in popularity in Texas.
But no matter what the topic, the classes all have the same tone – we’re there to talk about wine in a relaxed, non-pretentious way, to have a good time with a fascinating subject.
Why else would we start our food and wine pairings with Hill Country Fare peanut butter and sweet sparkling wine? Why else would I tangle my Texas twang with phrases like “Appellation d’origine controlee” and “Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita”? Why else would we tromp through a working vineyard in the middle of summer, working on a serious sunburn?
If nothing else, people who come to Winery U will develop great sources for wine-related stories – like the one about their teacher, simply “buying local” during the Olympics in Torino, Italy, and coming home with a life-changing experience.
Article by David King for Texas Wine and Trail Magazine
Here is the schedule for Winery U for the rest of 2013. Classes are from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the winery, and they are $30 each or four or more for $25 each. Registration is available at http://www.drycomalcreek.com/winery-u-wine.html.
March 16: “I Am Drinking Stars,” about sparkling wines from around the world
April 6: “Way Out West,” about wines of California, Oregon and Washington
May 18: “Summer Food and Wine,” about pairing whites and rosés with summer foods
June 8: “The Mysterious Black Grape,” about the hybrid Lenoir grape gaining popularity around the state
July 13: “Growing Grapes and Making Wine,” a multimedia look at the process from vineyard to bottle
Aug. 17: “You Nose Knows,” sensory evaluation of wines
Sept. 14: ”Decoding the Wine Label,” removing some of the mystery from the outside of the bottle
Oct. 19: “All Hail the King,” about the king of red wines, Cabernet Sauvignon
Nov. 9: “Thanksgiving Food and Wine,” about pairing wines with the biggest meal of the year
Dec. 7: “Port from Portugal,” about fortified wines from around the world