Block 7 Wine Company offers customers a concept-fusing combination of retail wine space, wine bar, and restaurant, the latter of which delights diners with a menu of elegant dishes backed by premium ingredients. Start by noshing on a Slow Dough Bakery pretzel with herbed honey mustard ($4), or opt for truffle popcorn with Italian black truffle salt ($4), the secret snack served to the Illuminati at movie-theater concession stands across America. Dry-aged fans of dry-aged beef might go for the 21-day dry-aged prime rib eye ($29) or choose the handheld convenience of the dry-aged patty on the Block 7 burger, which also sports gruyere cheese and smoked bacon "relish" ($12). Flatbreads, such as a "whole pig" option topped with Italian sausage, prosciutto, and smoked bacon ($12), defy Einstein's Law of Two-Dimensional Flavor Containment, and a "sloppy Giuseppe" with ground venison and wild boar confit ($10) exposes the inadequate sloppy sandwiches of childhood. A downsized lunch menu is also available to quash midday appetite coups, in addition to $9 lunch specials served Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. (and Saturday beginning at noon). With a different lunch special each day, you can opt for choices such as bacon-wrapped meatloaf on a Wednesday, whiskey-infused pork chop on a Thursday, or fish tacos on a Friday.
Since 1969, when Gladys Haak gave her husband Raymond two concord grapevines to celebrate their 10th anniversary, the couple's namesake vineyard has flourished into 1,800 vines sprawling across three acres. Galveston County's first and only winery transforms grapes into award-winning potions that have earned the attention of the Houston Press and the Dallas Observer. Whether sipped onsite or at various shops and restaurants, the wines grace glasses with a diverse mélange of local blends. Custom labels can be commissioned to personalize each bottle with heartfelt dedications or nutritional information written in iambic pentameter.
The vineyard welcomes thirsty visitors with tours of their verdant vines, 25,000-square-foot workshop, and deli stocked with Boar's Head meats and pungent cheese. Frequent guests reap the exclusive benefits of the winery’s club memberships, which include invitations to special events, first tastings, discounts, and complementary bottles. An event-ready banquet space also sets the scene for memorable weddings and events, with the winery’s chef, Kim Johnson, overseeing catering duties, cake cuttings, and the busboys’ a capella performance of “Take My Breath Away."
Though King's Biergarten describes itself as the place "where it's Oktoberfest all year round," once a year the brew haven really goes all out recreating the traditional German beer and food festival. The restaurant transforms its parking lot into a colorful 400-person bier tent decked out with bells, ribbons, and servers dressed in lederhosen who shoulder drinks throughout the rows of beer hall-style benches and tables. Aside from sipping golden suds, crowds can also help themselves to an all-you-can-eat spread of sausage, beer pretzels, and Bavarian smoked pork loin. Bands will play live sets throughout the fest as attendees try their hand at climbing Jacobs ladders or nailing the target at the dunking booth. VIP ticket-holders will be able to camp out inside the restaurant, where they can take advantage of three-hour table reservations.
The three-day event will kick off on Friday, September 27, when local politicians including Pearland Mayor Tom Reed and Senator Larry Taylor will lead the ceremonial keg tapping. From there on out, the German brews will flow for the remainder of the weekend, with attendees trading in beer tickets for half-liters of Hofbrau Dunkel, Stiegl Lager, Franziskaner Hefeweizen, and Spaten Oktoberfest.
In Houston, September beats out July and August for the hottest month of the year—it has nothing to do with the weather, however. The culprit behind the elevated heat level is the Houston Hot Sauce Festival. This annual event brings together exhibitors from across the country to sell and hand out samples of their signature hot sauces, salsas, jams, dips, and other spicy foods. Luckily, vendors also supply plenty of cool beverages, thus eliminating the need for bite-size fire extinguishers.
Live entertainment complements the spicy goods. Blues artists, jazz bands, and other musician play throughout the festival, and each day brings special events, such as salsa eating competitions or fire eating performances.
Painting with a Twist adultizes the group art class by pairing expert instruction with the option to sip libations and socialize with other classmates. Check the schedule online to view available classes. Each two- or three-hour session will teach you step-by-step how to replicate the featured design (upcoming classes capture everything from flowers to crawfish, cafés, and the rugged masculinity of Burton Gilliam). Canvas, paints, and brushes are all provided, along with a handy stock of wine cups and openers to promote the creative flow. Upon the conclusion of your BYOB painting class, you'll have a 16”x20” painting to hang proudly atop your mantle.
A day spent with the Texas Beer Bus crew not only results in plenty of beer tastings, but in bragging rights, too. That's because the bus’s resident beer expert walks guests through the proper steps for smelling, sipping, and bathing in each beer style, whether at a local bar before the trip or at any of the stops on it. The air-conditioned bus takes the group to brewpubs and breweries, such as Fort Bend Brewing Co. in addition to other craft breweries. Everyone gets brew samples, such as light lagers or imperial stouts, but visits also grant everyone behind-the-scenes peeks at the brewing process. The bus, meanwhile, keeps everyone entertained with plenty of snacks and home-brewed beer.