Our own Wes Marshall wins Wine Press Award, Louie Mueller Barbecue named Official Best Barbecue in Texas, and more
We're pleased to announce that the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association has recognized our own wine columnist Wes Marshall with their Wine Press Award. TWGGA Executive Director Dacota Haselwood made the announcement recently, saying: "The Texas wine and grape business is approaching a $1 billion financial impact on the Texas economy, and this award is designed to recognize contributions to the growth of our industry by a writer or broadcaster. This is the second time we've chosen Wes Marshall." In addition to covering wine and spirits for the Chronicle and several national and regional publications, Marshall is the author of bestseller The Wine Roads of Texas (Maverick Publishing, $21.95), the subject material for a PBS documentary by the same name. Congratulations, Wes! In other Texas wine news, one of the best-kept secrets in the Hill Country wine business is now public knowledge. Longtime Twin Liquors go-to wine guy Russell Smith is the official winemaker of record at Becker Vineyards (www.beckervineyards.com). Smith's contributions to the fine quality of Becker wines had to be kept quiet for years, but now that he has left Twin, he can finally receive credit where credit is certainly due... And speaking of well-deserved credit, Media World USA, producers of a television and Web travel series called The Official Best Of (www.officialbestof.com), has named Taylor's famed Louie Mueller Barbecue (206 W. Second, 512/352-6206; www.louiemuellerbarbecue.com) as the Official Best Barbecue in Texas for 2008. This is another in a long series of accolades for the revered barbecue emporium, including an America's Classics award from the James Beard Foundation in 2006 and television segments on the Food Network and the Travel Channel in recent years... Barbecue professionals are gathering in Austin this weekend while the National Barbecue Association conducts its annual Conference & Expo at the Crowne Plaza Hotel (500 N. I-35). The event is geared toward barbecue restaurateurs, chefs, caterers, cookbook authors, and suppliers, but the public is invited to join in from 10:45am to 3pm on Saturday, Feb. 23, for demonstrations, workshops, cookbook signings, product taste samples, and the raffle of an $1,800 custom-designed, orange and white Texas Longhorn Traeger barbecue grill. Tickets are $15 for the first adult in your party, $10 for subsequent adults, $8 for children ages 12 and younger, and children younger than 6 get in free when accompanied by adults. The ticket price covers participation in instructional sessions and generous product sampling. Raffle tickets are $15. For more info, go to www.nbbqa.org... Chef instructors Brian Hay and Brian McCormick from Austin Community College's popular Culinary Arts Department are the stars of a new instructional cooking show called Austin Cooks, which airs at 6:30pm Mondays on ACC-TV, cable Channel 19. The new program is also available online at www.austincc.edu/cooks, where you can view student profiles, cooking tips, recipes, nutritional facts, and information about local chefs, as well as post questions and ideas... We join Austin's legion of soupies in congratulating Soup Peddler extraordinaire David Ansel and his wife, Meredith, on the Feb. 10 arrival of their daughter, Mia Rose Ansel (7 pounds, 10 ounces).