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Courtesy of William Chris Vineyards

A Texas winery just landed on one of the most exclusive wine lists of them all. At an event held in Argentina's wine capital, Mendoza, the World’s Best Vineyards organization revealed this year’s top wine destinations for 2022. Texas' own William Chris Vineyards came in at No. 56, the only Texas vineyard on the list and one of only seven wineries from the U.S.

Founded in 2008 by Chris Brundrett and Bill Blackmon in Hye, Texas, the vineyard started out in the historic 1905 Dieke Farmhouse and has been rapidly expanding ever since. Now, the company partners with local farms to source the highest quality Texas fruit, utilizing a hands-off, low-intervention approach to allow the fruit's characteristics to shine through in the final product.

“It is such an honor to be included on the prestigious list of World’s Best Vineyards, especially as the first and only Texas winery,” said Brundrett in a release. “We’ve worked tirelessly to show the world that Texas has a place among the great wine destinations of the world, and we see this as a victory not just for William Chris Vineyards, but for the Texas wine industry as a whole. We’re excited to celebrate this with our partners and peers.”

Released annually, the World’s Best Vineyards list highlights the top must-visit vineyards globally, aiming to promote wine tourism around the world. 500 leading wine experts, sommeliers, and travel experts comprise the group's voting academy, submitting their nominations based on a wide range of criteria — from quality of overall experience to cuisine, value for money, and more. Submissions are voted on, and the collated results become the coveted World’s Best Vineyards list.

For a full list of 2022 winners, visit worldsbestvineyards.com.

Photo by Trish Rawls

Charming Hill Country destination named among most dynamic 'micropolitan' areas in U.S.

We’ll toast to that

Fredericksburg reigns as the Hill Country’s wine and tourism hub, with both industries pouring millions of dollars into the regional economy. So it’s no wonder, then, that Fredericksburg now ranks among the country’s most “dynamic” micropolitan areas.

A new study from the nonprofit think tank Heartland Forward places Fredericksburg at No. 21 among the 25 most dynamic micropolitan areas in the U.S. The study look at economic data for the country’s 536 micropolitan areas.

A micropolitan area is a cluster of communities anchored by a town with 10,000 to 50,000 residents. Fredericksburg itself is home to about 11,000 residents, while the entire micropolitan area comprises 27,297 people.

According to the study, the key figures for the Fredericksburg micropolitan area include:

  • Per capita personal income of $75,442, the second highest number among the top 25.
  • 2015-20 employment growth of 4.8 percent.
  • 2015-20 growth in GDP (growth domestic product) of 12.6 percent. GDP is a major indicator of economic strength or weakness.

“Close to both Austin and San Antonio, Fredericksburg is a sophisticated small town, a community that welcomes and supports newcomers. The climate is mild, the location and lifestyle ideal, and our robust economic climate is tailor-made for a number of kinds of businesses, which will benefit greatly from all the area has to offer,” says the Gillespie County Economic Development Commission.

Several factors contribute to Fredericksburg’s status as a standout micropolitan area. These include:

  • More than $241 million in direct spending on travel in 2021.
  • Popular attractions such as the LBJ State Park and Historic Site, the National Museum of the Pacific War, Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, and Wildseed Farms.
  • A full-bodied wine industry.

Los Alamos, New Mexico, stands atop Heartland Forward’s list of the top 25 micropolitan areas. The West Texas area of Pecos sits at No. 4; it’s the only other Texas micropolitan on the list.

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Giant sea creatures made of recycled beach trash wash onto Galveston Island in must-see new exhibit

inspiring sea change

A giant great white shark, massive bald eagle, oversized octopus, and more enormous sea life have invaded Galveston Island.

"Washed Ashore," a compelling traveling art exhibit of giant sea animal sculptures made of trash collected from beaches, is now on display across 19 locations in Galveston.

The clever showcase features more than 20 pieces — most more than six feet tall and as much as 17 feet wide — such as coral reefs, jellyfish, penguins, sunfish, and more.

Sculptures can be found at museums, hotels, parks, attractions, and popular outdoor spaces. Thanks to a partnership between Oregon-based non-profit Washed Ashore and the Galveston Park Board, the exhibit, which is open though March 5, is free.

This innovative, powerful exhibit is designed to educate the public about the hazards of plastic pollution in the world’s waterways and comes at a touchstone environmental moment. Some 35 million metric tons of plastic entered the global aquatic ecosystems in 2020, according to the Ocean Conservancy’s research partners.

Similar "Washed Ashore" exhibits have been displayed at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, as well as zoos, aquariums, and botanical gardens across the nation. Notably, this Galveston debut marks the first time the exhibit will not be behind a paid gate, per press materials.

“The sculptures are impressive,” Visit Galveston Chief Tourism Officer Michael Woody says. “But they’re even more impressive when you look at them closely. The artists at Washed Ashore placed recognizable objects – like buckets and shovels – at a child’s eye view. This way, hopefully, they will learn to take with them what they bring to the beach.”

For more information on the exhibit, visit the official site.

Photo courtesy of Visit Galveston

Meet Greta the great white shark.

These are the 5 best food and drink events in Fort Worth this week

This week in gluttony

It’s a frigid start to February this week, but tasty events bring opportunities to warm up once the coldest weather passes. Get cozy with hand-made pasta and wine, a dim sum cooking class, two new Sunday brunch launches, and a complimentary educational class to watch online from the warmth of your own home.

Thursday, February 2

An Evening with Batasiolo Wine Dinner
Only 11 lucky individuals get to partake in this four-course dinner set to take place in il Modo’s intimate pasta-making room. Wines from Beni Di Batasiolo Winery will be paired with each course. Reservations are $199, plus tax and gratuity, and include valet parking. Dinner begins at 6 pm.

Saturday, February 4

Who Eats Cornbread? Who Eats Biscuits? Baking and Texas Identity Webinar by the TCU Center for Texas Studies
Curl up at home with hot biscuits or cornbread while watching this tasty and educational webinar led by Rebecca Sharpless, professor of history at TCU. She’ll talk through the history of baking in Texas and the American South, speaking from research conducted for her latest book, Grain and Fire. Learn who used white cornmeal, who used yellow, who used sugar, who didn’t, flour to fat ratios, and why it all matters. The free webinar begins at 10:30 am.

Jazz Brunch Launch at The Fitzgerald
The Camp Bowie Boulevard restaurant will channel New Orleans vibes with the launch of its new jazz brunch. The live jazz pianist will provide tunes on Fitzgerald’s heated patio both Saturday and Sundays from 11 am-2 pm. Plan for brunch dishes like crab cake Benedict, shrimp and grits, crawfish omelets, and bananas Foster banana pudding.

Dim Sum Time at Indulge Cooking Studio
The downtown cooking studio located inside Third Street Market hosts an array of classes regularly. This one will feature dim sum, the traditional Chinese meal made up of small plates featuring various dumplings and snacks. The menu will include chicken shumai, Chinese greens, spring rolls, and an egg custard tart. The class is $89 and will begin at 11 am.

Sunday, February 5

New Sunday Brunch at Craft & Vine
The Roanoke restaurant, wine bar, and craft cocktail lounge will launch Sunday brunch with new buffet-style stations. Enjoy eggs Benedict, a carving station, waffle bar, and more, as well as champagne flights, a build-your-own Bloody Mary bar, and even a bar cart for crafting Old Fashioneds. The price is $39 per person and $15 for kids 12 and under. Brunch service begins at 10 am and the live music starts at 11 am.

Luke Bryan trucks to Dallas-Fort Worth for 2 tour stops, including Dickies Arena

Country on

Luke Bryan fans, clear your calendars in late September 2023. The five-time Entertainer of the Year and American Idol judge is making not one but two stops in North Texas on his "Country On Tour."

He'll play Dallas' Dos Equis Pavilion on September 28, then scoot over to Fort Worth for a show at Dickies Arena on September 29. The only other Texas stop on his 36-city tour will be in Lubbock, on July 27. (So sorry, Houston, Austin, and San Antonio.)

Special guests throughout the tour will include up-and-coming country artists Chayce Beckham, Tyler Braden, Ashley Cooke, Jackson Dean, Jon Langston, Conner Smith, Alana Springsteen, Hailey Whitters, and DJ Rock.

According to the tour site, Beckham, Dean, Whitters, and DJ Rock will play the Dallas-Fort Worth shows.

Bryan has a history of investing in new artists by inviting them to join him on tour, a press release reminds.

“Artists get into the business to make music and perform it for the fans,” Bryan says in the release. “Leaving it all out on that stage is what it’s all about for me. I’m excited to support and have so many talented new artists along for the ride this year. It’s one of the most rewarding parts of our job.

The tour is named for Bryan's 30th No. 1 single, “Country On” - a celebration of farmers, truckers, military, first responders, and all of Americana that hit the top of the country singles charts around Christmas 2022. He has amassed a career tally of 56 total weeks at #1.

Bryan launches his 2023 headline dates at Resorts World Theatre in Las Vegas on February 1. He's also returning as a judge on ABC's American Idol this spring.

Bryan's "Country On Tour" kicks off June 15 in Syracuse, New York.

Tickets go on sale on at 10 am Friday, February 3 at Lukebryan.com.

Presale for Bryan's fan club members will run 8 am Tuesday, January 31 through 5 pm Thursday, February 2. For details, go HERE.

Citi cardmembers will have access to presale tickets from 10 am Wednesday, February 1 to 10 pm Thursday, Feb 2 through the Citi Entertainment program. For complete presale details visit www.citientertainment.com.