A large contingent of Austinites attended the Vinitaly International Wine Expo, which drew more than 1,100 wine and food vendors from around the world to Verona April 8-12. Sampling the excellent Amarone at one of the world's largest wine and food events were Italian wine expert Henry Schmidt, wine reps Mark Mattingly and Brett Tisdale, Basil's owner Marshall Slacter, Chronicle contributor Meredith Phillips, and soon-to-be Italian restaurant partners Stan Adams and chef Harvey Harris, with manager Jay Knepp and chef Brad Yerkes. Following the expo, Adams, Harris, Knepp, Yerkes, and Phillips all visited Harris' recent alma mater, the Italian Culinary Institute for Foreigners at Castello Costigliole d'Asti, where the Italian Rice Producers were holding an International Risotto Competition ...
Earlier this week, another group struck out for Phoenix to attend the annual conference of the International Association of Culinary Professionals. Central Marketcooking school director Cathy Cochran-Lewis and food service director David Mock, Fonda San Miguel owner Tom Gilliland, Ella'schef/owner Kevin Williamson, Sweetish Hillco-owner Patricia Bauer-Slate, Schlotzsky's corporate pastry chef Rebecca Rather, AustinChronicle contributor Ronna Welsh, and myself are enjoying new restaurants, seminars, and networking opportunities with culinary professionals from around the globe in the Arizona desert.
Hill Country Addition
As enthusiastic as we are about Jim and Karen Johnson's Alamosa Wine Cellars in San Saba County, we were mortified when a typo allowed an incorrect spelling of their business name to appear in last week's Hill Country Guide Update (Vol. 18, No. 32). And no sooner had the update been published than we had a delightful conversation with the owners of another new Hill Country winery. Retired pharmacists Gary and Kathy Gilstrap are currently involved in what they describe as "applied biochemistry" at their new venture, Texas Hill Country Vineyard (RR2766, one mile off Hwy281 in Johnson City, 830/868-2321). The Gilstraps are banking on Italian varietals, so in addition to some Cabernet, Chardonnay, and Merlot, they've planted Sangiovese, Moscato, and Pinot Grigio, among others. They'll be pouring the first Pinot Grigio made in Central Texas and invite everyone who's driving the Wine & Wildflowers Trail through the Hill Country this weekend to stop by for the grand opening of their tasting room, noon-5pm, both Saturday, April 17 and Sunday, April 18. If you happen to be headed southeast instead of west, the folks at Messina Hof Wine Cellars (4545 Old Reliance Rd., Bryan, 409/778-9463) are hosting their annual Wine & Roses Festival on Saturday, April 17, noon-8pm. The event includes 5K and 10K Runs Through the Vines beginning at 9am, regular winery tours and tastings beginning at noon, grape stomping championships, live music, plus a luncheon buffet and grand gourmet dinner in the Vintage House Restaurant. For more info, look the cellars up on the Web at http://www.messinahof.com.