Inaugural Bi-Annual Winery Tour  ~  Saturday, 10 Nov 2012

What a success!  Eight club members driving 5 Mercedes/Smarts kicked off the first (of many to come) Bi-Annual Winery Tour on Saturday, 10 Nov.  After the dumb MBCA Board decision of 3 Nov to dissolve Alamo, we needed a good road trip.  And with only 6 days’ notice, we gathered a very worthy group!  The day was breezy but picture perfect with just enough wispy high clouds to gently filter the sun.  Temperatures were very comfortable – great for top-down, convertible driving!

We gathered at ‘Point McD’s’, at I-10 and Ralph Fair Road, and all on time!  Joyce & Bob were in the Smart, Sak & Bebe in their SL65, ‘Baja’ in his SL450, Udi in her SLK and Jeff & Lori in their S55.  So the convertibles were again making a fine showing… and for good reason!  It was good to see everyone again and catch up with the week’s happenings.  We were especially pleased to see Udi, who drove down from Austin to join us on another run!

After receiving route directions, specific road tips, and overall driver’s instructions, we were off!  What a sight driving up I-10 out of San Antonio, convertible tops down, 5 MB/Smart’s cruising down the interstate in a neat row.  We garnered a lot of attention!  Joyce & Bob took lead while Jeff & Lori held the ‘chase car’ position; everyone else tucked neatly in-between.  The cross wind required a bit of control, but none of us felt uncomfortable – true ‘drivers’!  Beautiful road, great temperature, cruising at the 70 limit – doesn’t get much better!  First stop: Sister Creek Winery.

Taking I-10 north through the hilly countryside can be very relaxing, and the rolling hills and passing ranches were a very pleasant sight.  We get off the interstate at Exit 538, north of Boerne.  Hang a right on Main Street and a left onto Ranch Road 1376.  A short distance through some very rustic and shaded ranches brings us to Sister Creek Vineyard.

From the road, it doesn’t look like much.  And the ‘parking’ out front is rather limited.  But our 5 Mercedes/Smart’s fit nicely.  As we walked inside, your senses are hit with that unmistakable true winery aroma.  Hmmm…  Just makes one want to sit down and have a sample or two.  They have a self-guided tour of the winery, crusher, vats, fermentation tanks, the works.  So after wandering through the winery’s ‘back area’, we got settled in and were treated to the private tasting room – long table with a flight of 8 wines.  Wow!  And the wines were awesome!  And we spent some quality time catching up with a few folks from the New Braunfels Area Car Club, who were also on a wine tour.  Amazing who you run into on the highways and byways of Texas!

But alas, we must be on the move; drivers can’t stay long in one place!  So once we’d partaken of the grape at SCV, we were back on Ranch Road 1376, moving north.  Ahhh… the scenery was beautiful.  Big ranches, lots of sheep, and what looks like very serene countryside.  But before we get mesmerized, we just HAVE to stop in on Luckenbach, TX... 

Joyce took us down the loop and proceeded to park us right, smack in front of the Post Office.  Now, one must understand Luckenbach, TX… First, the entire town encompasses only 9 acres… yes, that’s ACRES!  As one looks at ‘the town’, it sort of reminds you of a ghost town; very rustic, small, intimate, dirt, etc.  But they have a saloon and a general store, and a deep heritage.  There are really only two buildings of significance.  One is what’s left of the post office, a working saloon, and a general store.  The other is the dance hall.  What a gem!

Anyway, as Jeff & Lori pull up and prepare to get out, the entire Sheriff’s Department for Luckenbach swaggers up to Jeff’s car.  The amply-bellied, self-proclaimed Sheriff proceeds to tell Jeff that parking was not allowed in front of the Post Office, that it’s restricted.  (Not sure what for, but there were signs.)  As Joyce was jockeying for a group pic in front of the PO, Jeff kept the Sheriff busy acting dumb (not a difficult task!).  Once Joyce said, “Let’s move”, we knew she had her picture.  Another adventure for this intrepid group!  But we have to cruise back to Luckenbach.

Ok, so Jeff & Lori back out of the Luckenbach version of Area-51 and await the rest of the group to cruise by.  After a couple minutes, ‘Where’s the group?’  Oops!  ‘They’ took the loop while Jeff & Lori thought it was one way in, one way out.  After a quick phone call to the lead car, Jeff & Lori are flying down RR-1376!  After some good-natured ‘ribbing’ by the group, all are together again.

RR-1376 dead ends at US-290 and we make a left, heading toward Fredericksburg.  Ahhh… the road is smooth, the weather gorgeous, settling in nicely for this leg.   Hmmm… brake lights ahead… LOTS OF BRAKE LIGHTS!   [Screech!]  After an invigorating stop in the middle of Hwy-290, Joyce has decided to take our galloping group to Circle E Candles.  Apparently, there was some previous off-line discussion between Joyce/Bob and Sak/Bebe about how the latter really liked ‘scented wax things’.  Most of us weren’t sure, and really didn’t need to know!  With this group, one never really is quite sure where we will end up!

So into Circle E Candles we go!  The place is a potpourri of candles of virtually any scent.  The place is stacked floor to ceiling with every size and scent imaginable.  Small votive candles to what looked like mini 55-gallon industrial-sized versions.  We all picked up our favorite scents, even though our noses were in sensory overload!

So back on the road again!  Go west, young man!  And away we went.  The road (US-290) took us through Fredericksburg, TX.  What a beautiful town… on any non-weekend day!  Traffic was bad and crowds everywhere.  But as drivers, we have learned how to stay together and watch out for each other.  We did well staying together through the stop lights.  No stops were planned in Fredericksburg, but it was nice to see the town.  Another one to come back and visit!

Following US-290 west, Joyce kept eyeballing for the turn onto Usener Road.  The sign, rumor has it, is visible once the vines and native vegetation is cleared away.  Yup, there it is.  At this point, the road goes from beautiful pavement to beautiful pebble.  We migrate along a windy dirt road – that’s in surprisingly good shape – over cattle guards and past eerily looking dead oak trees.  We expected Vincent Price to step out any minute; almost surrealistic in places.  But at the end of our off-road trek, was Chisholm Trail Winery.

This place is awesome!  A bit odd to get to, but wonderful, nonetheless!  Greeting us outside were a pair of burros, lazily nibbling on what grass they could find in the dirt parking lot.  But once inside, your senses are taken back to a saloon-like atmosphere where instead of firewater, there is high-quality vino.  And in the back is a wood-fired pizzeria with such selections as Duck Pizza, Quail Sausage Pizza, Veggie Pizza, and boring Pepperoni Pizza.  Each is hand-made and prepared to order.

We gathered at one large table – the group that sits together, has fun together!  And we sat around for a spell, munching on pizza, drinking delicious wine, and having many a laugh.  The 8 of us were probably getting a bit loud, but we couldn’t help it – we were just having WAY too much fun!  No boredom at this table!  No snobs or pretentious attitudes.  At table, we are great friends!  After our fill, we had some fun with the multitude of costume hats that are lying around for humorous photos.  And we got a couple!  What a great time.  What do you think?

 But all good things come to an end and by mid-afternoon, we had to say ‘adios’.  After lengthy goodbyes outside and another quick search for Joyce’s ‘Moo Cows’, we began our trek home.  Once back through Fredericksburg, Joyce, Bob and Udi headed for US-281, while the Alamo Ranch Trio headed down US-87.

The trek down US-87 and south onto I-10 was fine, though after the great day, it was a bit anti-climactic.  Sak calls Jeff and says, “Let’s take the back road off I-10 to Alamo Ranch?”  Why not, indeed!  So the three of us hop off at Boerne Stage Road (Exit 543) and begin a beautiful back country drive through Boerne, Grey Forest, past Scenic Loop Café and Grey Moss Inn, Helotes, and onto Bandera Road.  Around the S-bend and onto FM-1560.  Straight shot home for Sak & Bebe, ‘Baja’, and Jeff & Lori.

What a great day!  Lots of places to see, things to do, and beautiful back-country roads to check out.  And all with wonderful friends.  Great time had by all.  If you were a part of this run, you KNOW you had a fabulous time.  If you didn’t make this run, you KNIOW you wish you had!  So come join us on the next one.

BTW – We’re going to have the spring version of our Bi-Annual Winery Tour in April, so look for it!  And of course, we’re going to have at least one driving run a month.  With the holidays coming up, we are planning a couple extra-special runs!  So keep an eye out for these – at least one will be an evening run!  Imagine the gathering with more than 6 days’ notice – this is going to be a great year for the new club!  See ya ‘round the bend at the next event!

A huge Tejas THANKS to all who attended and a special to ‘Baja’ and Joyce for the pictures.

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