Sugar Ridge Winery's rolling acres once held everything from white-speckled fields of cotton to waving meadows of hay. Then owners Don and Michele Andrews planted their first rows of varietal and transformed the land into a verdant, nectar-giving paradise. Michele inherited the acreage from her grandparents and honors their legacy through a red heritage wine that fills the tasting room's antique wooden shelves alongside chardonnays, tempranillos, and cabernets. This pride in the vineyards' history shines through in the decor as well: Outside the tasting room, a wood-sided well stands flanked by giant urns. Shaded by trees, a tranquil fountain babbles on a stone patio and a resident cat and kittens prowl the grounds, guarding the grapes and playing cat games such as Parcheesi. In addition to public and private wine tastings, Don and Michele also host tasting afternoons paired with an outdoor massage and encourage winery visitors to pack their own picnics.
Real Time Sports & Entertainment, recently under new ownership and management, knows that it takes more than just their delicious burgers and hand-cut fries to keep their customers coming back night after night. They host live bands and DJs seven days a week to keep dance floors filled with partiers well into the night, while 22 high-def screens broadcast sports for excited fans. Meanwhile, bartenders whip up cocktails and pour beers that wash down dishes such as Cajun catfish poboys, turkey burgers, or chicken wings, as guests enjoy conversation and a convivial atmosphere. And no matter the day, the dedicated owners promise real people, a basket of fish with your name on it, and a bottle of ketchup with some guy named Heinz’s name on it.
More than 65 vivid clan tents cover the grounds at each year’s Texas Scottish festival, where Scots strut proudly around, wearing kilts and displaying their clan tartans. The notes of bagpipes float through the air, blasted from the lungs of talented soloists or from the year’s featured pipe-and-drum band. Market stalls show off Scottish and Celtic wares, from kilts and tartans to artisan Celtic jewelry and art. Competition flourishes amid Scot-descended attendees and curious festgoers at professional or amateur athletics as well as in an all-Scottish-breed dog show. While multitudes of Scottish beers wet whistles and fortify bagpiping or kilt-twirling courage, food vendors sell American fair food alongside traditional Scottish sundries that include meat pies, Scotch eggs, and haggis—chopped meat cured in a sheep’s stomach to the sound of Highland lullabies.
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.