“What about wine?”
When I first announced that we were moving to Texas, almost all of my Oregon friends gasped in horror and asked, “What about wine?” While that wasn’t my first thought, it certainly made the Top Ten List. Oregon’s Wine Country is an important industry and a fun part of our lives.
Wine tasting and appreciation is a hobby for many people, and Oregon is a wonderful state for this. Most of my friends and neighbors in Oregon had wine cellars. We would go tasting all the time at different wineries where friends were members. For our birthdays and celebrations, we would go to a tasting room or at least a restaurant with a great wine list. Even my friends that don’t drink wine, including my husband, would come on these outings because that’s how we spent a lot of our social time.
My husband already started working here in Texas, and I flew down on two house hunting trips before we moved our entire household. We saw some great homes, relaxed at night, and enjoyed the Austin nightlife. We traveled to several live music bars and sat outside in the beautiful weather. At each place we visited, I would try to order my usual chardonnay or Pinot grigio. After the second place didn’t have chardonnay or Pinot grigio, I became concerned. What if Texas wine really does suck? Was I doomed to drinking cider for the rest of my days? Egads.
On one night out in an Austin suburb, my husband spotted a wine bar, and knowing my palpable worry, brought me in. I was overjoyed! Finally, my people! We sat at the bar and I explained to the bartender, whom I assumed was a sommelier, that I was from Oregon and on the search for great Texas wine, especially whites. I described my preferences; dry, fruity, buttery but not oaky, nothing sweet, I hate sweet…. So he said that he had just the wonderful Texas white that I would love, I was so excited, I was dancing in my seat! He poured me a Riesling. A Riesling! That’s the varietal that 22 year old girls drink when they’re trying to be classy and adult but really just want to do jello shots. Chagrined, I switched to my old buddy, Diet Coke.
A few months later, we made The Big Move out here. Luke’s brother, Josh, also moved to Texas when we did for his new job. Yes, I packed a case of Oregon wine and brought it with us in the car. The guys’ work schedules gave them time to get settled before beginning their new positions in Austin and San Antonio. We proudly showed Josh around our new hometown, the site of our new home, and explored new restaurants.
One day I forced the guys to take me wine tasting at the winery by our new house. I was so excited, I had been waiting to go to this winery! The grounds were beautiful; sweeping views of Hill Country, incredible stonework, acres of estate grapes. I had already made mental plans on coming to this winery on the weekends, bringing my friends, having lunch in their bistro, and recreating my Oregon wine scene!
We went down to the tasting room, and I had my first taste! Of awful wine. It was like marmalade sweet. I thought for a minute that the gal gave me sweet tea instead of wine. Good lord, it was terrible. I poured it out and moved to the next. I made my way through the tasting menu, while my husband and brother-in-law joked and laughed together. I did end up finding two wines I liked, a Rose` and a Tempranillo. I was still disappointed though, out of about twenty wines the closest winery makes, I only liked two enough to bring home.
My disappointment hung over me a little, I was a little teensy sad that I wouldn’t get to have my fun wine weekends with my girlfriends. It’s not even about the wine, I can buy that at Target and have a glass in my sweatpants and be happy. No, it was the “this is so different, this isn’t Oregon, and it will never be as fun” feeling. As I tried to embrace all things Texas over those first few months, I would still buy my Oregon wine and tell everyone that I loved Texas, just not their wine.
On Halloween, we were out to dinner with some new friends to watch the Longhorns game. It came time to order drinks and my friend Erica asked if I want to split a bottle of wine. The answer to that is always yes, so I told her, “Sure, as long as it’s not crappy Texas wine.” Her husband, Jared, looked at me and told me, a bit heatedly, that I needed to just understand the differences in Oregon and Texas wines. “We have such different climates,” he reminded me. Texas cannot physically grow good Pinot Noir grapes but a Texas Tempranillo or malbec cannot be beat.
This wise Southern gentleman, in a Longhorns shirt and Batman mask, told me that I needed to stop comparing the wines of Oregon and Texas in order to fully enjoy them both. I don’t think he knew it at the time, for this lifelong Texan was just telling me a little about some wine, but he told me exactly what I needed to hear. And not about wine, about our whole move. We were four months in Texas and I still missed Oregon so much that I cried almost daily.
I enjoyed the hell out of a couple glasses of that bottle of wine with our new friends, had a fantastic dinner, learned some about the Longhorns and laughed a lot with new friends. The next day was November 1st, and I set about just appreciating Texas for Texas, not what was the same or different than Oregon. I started trying to find the best Texas Tempranillo and Malbec and unoaked chardonnay, all the great Texas varietals.
In the middle of November, I had to fly back to Portland for a family medical issue, and I was so excited to go “home.” The medical situation had a good resolution, thank goodness, and I got to spend good time with friends and family. Funny thing happened, it was about halfway through my trip and I started calling Austin “home” whereas I had always called Portland “home.” I had began to appreciate the traits of both of my homes, and all their varietals. Oregon can’t be Texas, and Texas can’t be Oregon. Thank goodness, or we wouldn’t have the amazing diversity of wine, culture, food and geography to love about both states.
I will always have Oregon in my heart and proudly say that I’m from Oregon. I am now starting to identify as a Transplant Texan! I now refuse to eat barbecue outside the state of Texas and cannot live without my migas, kolaches and breakfast tacos! Last weekend, I hosted a wine tasting at my house, full of delicious Texas and Oregon varietals. I even joined a wine club here!
En vino, veritas. In wine, truth. Comparing one place to another, or one person to another, doesn’t do anyone any good. Appreciation for the present, where you are and who are, is the only way to enjoy the day.