This morning, I joined two friends, Cheryl and Denise, on a leisurely drive along Texas Highway 290 to the rural community of Plantersville, just 75 minutes north of Houston. Our destination was the Bernhardt Winery and Vineyards, where we would be connecting with more than 20 other women -- members and guests of The Professional Group. While there, we would enjoy a tour of the property, a seated lunch and wine tasting.
Not familiar with Bernhardt Wines or the property we were going to see, we didn't know exactly what to expect - which is, sometimes, the best way to see and experience something new. No expectations! Lots of surprises!
Approaching the winery, we spotted a beautiful stucco building, much like those seen at wineries in Tuscany. It sits on top of a beautiful hill overlooking endless hills and valleys, again much like in Tuscany.
Inside, we found a charming tasting room and a friendly and knowledgeable team of pourers. A small retail area was there too, where we found traditional wine merchandise, as well as fine jellies, jams and sauces.
But, our turn at tasting (and shopping) was delayed a bit. We walked outside to relax on a covered porch that overlooked the grounds. Minutes later, the others arrived by luxury bus, and it was time for the festivities to begin.
One of the Bernhardt team welcomed us and gave us a brief overview of the business and the special activities offered there.
Bernhardt Winery's is a small mom-and-pop boutique winery, producing classic varietals and unique blends. It produces only about 6,000 gallons of wine each year. Its mission is to produce quality wines and provide a fun tasting experience in a warm environment.
We also learned about Bernhardt's Concert Series. These events take place on the lawn every Sunday evening, beginning in mid-April and in 2015, through November 15.
Concert goers are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs, purchase wine by the glass or bottle, sit back and relax and enjoy the great music with their friends or family. At sunset, the music stops, and all raise a toast to life and love!
There is a food vendor on hand for the concerts providing guests with dinner options appropriate for an outside setting. Guests are also welcome to bring their own picnic baskets.
I was thrilled to learn about these special events and, already, I am making plans to return to the Bernhardt Winery to one evening soon.
After learning even more about Bernhardt wines, all of us were thrilled when it was time to eat - and drink.
Over the next couple of hours, we enjoyed a delicious three-course lunch with the appropriate pairings. The owner led us through the culinary adventure, telling us in detail about each of the wines we tasted, including how and wines each carried the name it does. All very interesting!
Each of us had our favorite wine, of course. For me, it was the Tawny Reserve, a rich chocolate-colored Tawny, smooth and loaded with toffee and soft nuts and with warmth that lasting.
I bought a bottle of the Tawny Reserve before I left today. Right now, it's sitting in a rack nearby, staring at me, daring me to open it and enjoy again!
Perhaps I will.
Note: Bernhardt Winery is part of the Texas Bluebonnet Wine Trail, which takes place Saturday and Sunday, July 11-2 and 18-19. The trail runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays, and from 12 noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays. To purchase tickets, visit www.texasbluebonnetwinetrail.com/.