Gene Estes suspects that growing up in the 'dry' precinct of Abilene, Texas may have inspired his alcohol-based ingenuity; he crafted his first batch of wine from Concord grape juice when he was just 23. Years later, after holding various pharmaceutical jobs and putting to use his Masters in Microbiology, Estes' interest in wine re-emerged with a full and passionate force. Today, as the president and vintner of Lost Oak Winery, Gene works alongside resident winemaker Jim Evans to craft a host of award-winning wines. Among them is the 2012 Viognier, which scored a double gold in the renowned San Francisco Chronicle International Wine competition—meaning all five judges awarded the varietal with top scores before gilding the bottle twice in molten gold.
The winery itself offers both guided and self-guided tours, offering visitors a glimpse into the wine-making process complete with samples straight from oak barrels. Additionally, special events draw guests to the lush grounds for live music, wine club events, and the pre-Christmas holiday open house, where they can place preemptive wine orders with Santa.
When Birgit and Bruce Anderson first purchased their 2-acre property in Burleson, Texas, the new surroundings where they grew vegetables and raised farm animals reminded them of the then-popular television show Little House on the Prairie. The couple—who originally trained as a tax agent and sociology professor—and their daughters farmed the land for several years before a 1995 trip to Napa Valley seduced them into the vineyard lifestyle. After 10 years of studying grape-growing and winemaking, the Andersons opened Sunset Winery, which they've nicknamed and trademarked "The Best Little Wine House in Texas."
Since opening, the late-blooming winemakers have established themselves by winning multiple prizes for their wines and drawing a steady stream of visitors each year. Sunset's lauded bottles include Moon Glow merlot and Twilight Tango malbec, the latter of which won top accolades at the 2009 GrapeFest People's Choice Wine Tasting Classic, edging out other malbecs and a chagrined Susan Lucci.
Located on Main Street of Grapevine, Texas, D'Vine Wine treats visitors to countless varieties of wine paired with savory cheese and charcuterie plates. In the tasting and dining area, honeycombed wine racks and wooden barrels line the earth-toned walls, allowing visitors to imagine they've been swept away to the rustic cottage of a Tuscan vintner or the panic room of a billionaire. Guests sip house-made sauvignon blanc, malbec, and fruit-infused wine, while customers consult with wine representatives on creating a personalized label for any occasion.
Designed by PGA champion Mark Brooks with the classic layout of Scottish and early American links in mind, Southern Oaks Golf Club organically incorporates the natural landscape into a challenging 72 par course. Ideal for average to advanced players, the course keeps haphazard whackers in check with bunkers lurking on nearly every hole and talkative teens waiting to distract on each green. Rented carts come in handy as the peaceful grounds encompass 300 acres and yardage per hole ranges between 5,350 and 6,650 yards from front and middle tees and 7,100 from the back.
When the local skate park shut down, Jackie Andrews decided to ensure that her son, Beau, would still have a safe, legal place to practice his favorite sport. According to a recent profile in 360 West magazine, Jackie understood the challenges she faced from city officials but simply would not take “no” for an answer. The tenacious single mother of two was no stranger to entrepreneurial feats—nearly two decades ago, with no retail experience, she opened Chelsea's Tea Room, which gradually expanded from a tiny room to a 3,000-square-foot boutique.
Still, Jackie reflects, “opening a skate park is not the easiest thing to do,” and when the time came to build The Pier Skatepark she leaned on the design expertise of San Diego–based skate-park designer Brent Kronmueller. Housed inside a hangar-sized warehouse, his eventual layout would try to capture the sensation of skating outside with touches such as decorative palm trees interspersed among the park’s collection of rails, ramps, ledges, and exasperated high-school principals.
Since opening, the park has attracted not only local skaters but celebrities such as Lil Wayne, who recently paid a special late-night visit. When they aren’t celebrity spotting, guests can earn physical-education credit for school, enhance their skills during five-day summer camps, and hold contests to determine who has the coolest trick or the stickiest grip tape.
As they enter the training circle at Curves, female guests come face-to-face with the smiles of other women. And just as points on a circle share a common distance from the circle's center, workout participants share the experiences of those nearby by trading stations throughout the 30-minute training session. One minute is spent on a piece of strength-training equipment built for feminine frames and designed to work two opposing muscle groups with a single movement. Exercisers then move on to a recovery station, where they run, jog, or dance to maintain heart rates and keep platforms in place during momentary losses of gravity.