Listen to Austin 360 Radio

Culinary festivals aplenty in April

Addie Broyles, Relish Austin

Staff Writer
Austin 360

The Austin Food & Wine Festival, the celebrity chef-driven, $250-a-person event April 27 to 29 at Auditorium Shores that replaces the long-running Hill Country Wine and Food Festival, isn't the only culinary festival happening in the area that weekend.

The third annual Hill Country Wine and Music Festival will be in and around Fredericksburg April 26 to 28. Organizer Ken Maxwell says they had picked that date when the Austin Food & Wine Festival was still scheduled to take place in March.

Maxwell, who is a co-owner of Torre di Pietra winery between Fredericksburg and Stonewall, says they'd also already planned to expand the programming to mimic the kinds of food and activities that Central Texans will one day find at the Texas Center for Wine and Culinary Arts, a hub for regional cuisine in Fredericksburg that is still in the fundraising stage.

The culinary arts center won't be complete for at least a few more years, but events like the Hill Country Wine and Music Festival will help the nonprofit reach its fundraising goal, says Maxwell, who is on the culinary center board.

As the name suggests, Texas wines are the heart of the Hill Country Wine and Music Festival, Maxwell says. The festival kicks off with a Texas Vintners Dinner and Reception ($100, including gratuity) at Cabernet Grill in Fredericksburg, which is the only restaurant in the state with an all-Texas wine list. Chef Ross Burtwell will prepare passed appetizers and a five-course meal paired with wines from seven Texas winemakers, including Sandstone Cellars, Pedernales Cellars, Becker Vineyards and Grape Creek.

At 6 p.m. April 27, Houston author Russell Kane and Fredericksburg author Terry Thompson-Anderson will host a Texas Wine Tasting and Food Pairing event at the Ruff Haus, inside the National Museum of the Pacific War complex. Tapas-style hors d'oeuvres, which is what will be on the menu at the restaurant inside the Texas Center for Wine and Culinary Arts when it opens, will be paired with wines from area vineyards, including Messina Hof, Texas Hills and Torre di Pietra. Both Kane and Thompson-Anderson will sign copies of their most recent books, which are included in the $100 ticket price.

The big event — and this is where the music part comes in — is from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. April 28 at Wildseed Farms. For $20, you can sample Texas wines and food from area restaurants, as well as a number of locally made products, including chocolates and olive oils. Musicians scheduled to play are Trevor La Bonte, John Arthur Martinez, the Almost Patsy Cline Band and Thomas Michael Riley. Admission includes seven wine tastings, a souvenir wine glass and food samples.

The Austin Food & Wine Festival organizers haven't announced how many Texas winemakers will be pouring at the grand tastings. Unlike previous Hill Country Wine and Food Festivals, which focused primarily on regional and statewide food and wine and had multiple luncheons at wineries and educational panels about Texas wines, the Austin Food & Wine Festival will have only one such panel — also led by Houston author Kane, who recently published "The Wineslinger Chronicles: Texas on the Vine." (Passes and the schedule for this festival are online at austinfood andwinefestival.com.)

Maxwell says the culinary center recently received a $1.2 million grant to help purchase property in downtown Fredericksburg for the facility, which will also host cooking and wine classes as well as big-scale events. The organization hasn't announced the exact location, but Maxwell says it's in a couple of streets off Main Street.

"It's going to make a big difference in the way Fredericksburg is laid out. We're trying to get more foot traffic through town," he says.

"Everybody is trying to get this thing off the ground. ... It's going to bring people from all over Texas."

For tickets and more information, go the festival's website, hillcountrywine andmusic.com.

Stay up-to-date with the latest food news by following food writer Addie Broyles on Twitter @broylesa or on her Relish Austin blog, austin360.com/ relishaustin. Contact Addie at 912-2504.