Texas hills unfurl before Wimberley Valley Winery, gently guiding guests to the winery’s stock of wines. Since 1983, the winery’s resident winemaker has created a range of classic varietal wines in addition to offering wines from around the world. While the winemakers weave their magic in the cellar, the remainder of the winery’s staff entertains customers in the elegant tasting room. Here, an expansive stone fireplace steals the attention from sunny yellow walls, and granite counters hide bottle after bottle of wines waiting to be sampled. While tasters sink into cushy leather couches, the staff explains the flavor profiles of wine types and divulge tips for pairing wine with the right food or crazy straws.
Weddings at The Vineyard at Florence hark back to an unhurried age, when horse-drawn carriages ferried couples to the ceremony, guests stayed in villas overlooking verdant rows of grapes, and the next morning began with a dip in the infinity pool. The sprawling venue embraces this mix of old-world Italy and modern luxury. Intricate stonework on the Tuscan inns contrasts with the sleek lines of its gym equipment, and the murmurs of a spring-fed creek accompany live musical performances in the amphitheater.
Guests needn't be getting married to explore the setting?there are single-day excursions such as the Sunday yoga class. Of course, estate wines remain a prime focus for the staff and the vineyard's visitors, with tastings held most Thursdays and weekends inside the Villa Firenze, where contemporary culture mingles with antiquated charm. Italian decor and architecture typify the rustic interior, though its main hallways give way to galleries where local artists can exhibit their work. Gigantic wooden barn beams grace the ceiling in the traditional wine shop, and the outer decks afford views of the polo field alongside the arbors and herb gardens.
Rather than preserve their slice of countryside with uninterrupted quiet or a colossal snow-globe dome, the vineyard's tenants strive to fill the hills with life. They host classes on topics from pairing wines to organic farming, and welcome diners to sample handcrafted confections at Bissinger's Chocolate Experience and Caf?. Bands fill the wine-tasting room with new rhythms each week, and festivals such as the Harvest Celebration Weekend?where attendees can glimpse stone carvers at work and dine on homegrown cuisine?imbue the rural expanse with a close sense of community.
Top trainers Brent Currie and Ken Tollett share a record of heroic, athletic service as firefighter and police officer respectively. The duty-bound duo use the elite CrossFit system to prepare for the demands of crime-fighting, firefighting, and teaming up to fight fire smugglers. After embracing the CrossFit credo, Currie and Tollett joined forces to teach Texans of all fitness levels how to tame the 11-headed fitness fiend of cardio, respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance, and accuracy. CrossFit avoids the pratfalls of repetitive practices with an ever-varying workout of the day that keeps routines from becoming routine while encouraging progressive growth scalable to skill. This program is excellent for committed beginners, and because efficacy is emphasized over ease, enlisted exercisers will soon find their cores well-hardened.
Hailed by the San Antonio Current as being ?far too good to remain a local secret? thanks to a menu featuring ?some of the best New Orleans food this side of the French Quarter,? Mike's in the Village delights palates with the culinary traditions of Louisiana. New Orleans native Chef Michael Romano painstakingly transformed the space?a one-time bowling alley?into ?an attractive, low-key restaurant? whose charm is bolstered by ?tasteful decor [that] includes regional paintings by Buzz Heye?, an ?inviting bar,? and a ?welcoming patio? that doubles as a no-fly zone for sun-obscuring clouds. Within the restaurant?s bustling kitchen, Chef Michael and his team can be found deploying traditional recipes to forge zing-infused dishes such as New Orleans?style barbecue shrimp, crawfish ?touff?e, and chicken and sausage gumbo.
Located about 30 miles northwest of San Antonio, Kendall County is tucked into the lush Texas Hill Country and comes tinged with eclectic German heritage. After signing a treaty with local Native American tribes, German immigrants settled in the area during the 1840s and founded the town of Boerne in 1852, which thrives today as a quaint village with an artistic bent. Central European influences linger at local eateries, which dish up traditional cuisine.Hill Country's sprawling prairies and rolling hills are rife with opportunities for outdoor recreation, including boating, fishing, and horseback riding. Nearby, Guadalupe River State Park is bisected by the eponymous river, whose banks are lined with giant bald cypress trees. Adventurers can rent a canoe or kayak and paddle down the scenic waterway, or hire a local teenager to mold fake Bigfoot prints on the nature trails that wend past limestone cliffs.Urban adventures abound in nearby San Antonio, which brims with shopping and dining along its famed River Walk. Self-guided audio tours expound on the history of the King William Historic District, a collection of 19th-century mansions built by German merchants.
The San Antonio Highland Games Association's annual Celtic culture and athletics festival traditionally draws thousands of real and would-be Scots for an action- and bagpipe-packed weekend each year. Male and female athletes grown bored with sports that don't involve lead hammers or young trees have traveled from as far away as Japan and Sweden to test their mettle in the athletic field?s traditional Scottish strength competitions. The association's founders trace their lineage to numerous Scottish clans, and encourage others to explore their Celtic genealogy with festival workshops.