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Photo by Shelley Neuman

"Shotgun Willie" may sit around in his underwear, but next April, he'll be a "Sharp Dressed Man." Taking the iconic stage at Whitewater Amphitheater in New Braunfels, Willie Nelson and ZZ Top will perform together on April 14 and 15, 2023.

The shows come before ZZ Top teams up with Lynyrd Skynyrd at Fort Worth's Dickies Arena on July 29, 2023.

While Nelson is known, among many things, for his perpetual tour (think: On the Road Again), ZZ Top tours are few and far between. This will no doubt make their two-night appearance in New Braunfels all the more special, especially as Nelson approaches his 90th birthday just a few weeks after these April shows.

Nelson will be joined by his family band, albeit without his pianist and sister, Bobbie, who passed away in 2022. ZZ Top also lost a beloved member of the band in recent years when bassist and founding member Dusty Hill passed away in 2021. Elwood Francis stepped into the role for ZZ Top's recent tours, which have included mostly Texas stops of late.

Nelson was recently nominated for four Grammys in the upcoming 65th Annual Grammy Awards, including Best Country Solo Performance (“Live Forever” Willie Nelson); Best Country Song (“I'll Love You Till The Day I Die," along with Rodney Crowell and Chris Stapleton); Best Country Album (A Beautiful Time); and Best Roots Gospel Album (The Willie Nelson Family).

The shows will take place on Friday, April 14, and Saturday, April 15, both starting at 8 pm (doors at 6:30 pm). Tickets are already on pre-sale through the venue's website (sign up for the venue's newsletter to receive the pre-sale code).

Super fans can also purchase special VIP packages. A ZZ Top Gold Premium Ticket Package available directly through the venue's ticketing site includes one GA standing ticket, early entry, a limited edition concert poster, and a copy of ZZ Top's "RAW" Standard Edition LP.

Meanwhile, members of Nelson's Club Luck Presale can nab a special VIP package consisting of a seated ticket with early entry, loads of exclusive Willie Nelson merchandise and keepsakes, an MP3 digital download of the live show, and more.

Courtesy of William Chris Vineyards

Acclaimed Hill Country winery pours onto list of the world's 100 best for 2022

Wine List

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 courtesy of Kuper Sotheby's International Realty

50-acre Texas Hill Country 'hospitality oasis' fires up the market at $20 million

Posh property

For Texans who love throwing large and lavish parties at their vacation homes, a Hill Country property now on the market for $20 million could be just the ticket to win over even the pickiest of guests.

Binkan Cinaroglu, a Kuper Sotheby’s International Realty agent in San Antonio who has the listing, describes Oakfire Ridge as a “hospitality oasis.” The 50-acre property, at 1275 Stoney Ridge Rd., sits southeast of Bulverde in Comal County.

“There is so much that makes this property special, from the unsurpassed attention to quality and detail it took to create, to the picturesque natural environment that surrounds you everywhere you look,” Cinaroglu says.

Oakfire Ridge, established in 2018, features:

  • The more than 7,200-square-foot Biergarten Hall, complete with a concrete vault, an HD projection system, and a mobile smoke kitchen.
  • A more than 4,400-square-foot bar and patio with 10 beer and wine taps, wraparound seating, two “fire lounges,” and a sun terrace.
  • A 1,000-square-foot indoor “speakeasy,” including its own food truck.
  • An 800-square-foot outdoor kitchen highlighted by two chef’s tables, a pool with a water slide, and a walnut deck.
  • A more than 5,600-square-foot estate with four bedrooms, a gym, a floor-to-ceiling library with stairs, and an open area with living space, a kitchen, and a bar.
  • A more than 2,600-square-foot home with three bedrooms and a gourmet kitchen.
  • A one-mile walking and cycling loop.
  • A natural rock wall and bridge.
  • Several irrigated garden and herb beds.
  • More than 900 live oak trees.
  • A gated entrance.
  • Parking for 500 vehicles.

The new owner “will be able to implement a lifestyle of tranquility by enjoying the gorgeous backdrop at Oakfire Ridge while having the ability to entertain on a grand scale when need be,” Cinaroglu says.

Cinaroglu says the current owners, Sean and Coco Tipton, are selling the property because they’re preparing to set up another “hospitality oasis” closer to San Antonio.

Oakfire Ridge was designed to host guests in the Hill Country.

Photo courtesy of Kuper Sotheby's International Realty
Oakfire Ridge was designed to host guests in the Hill Country.
Courtesy of Lost Draw Cellars

Acclaimed Texas winery uncorks plans for new Hill Country destination

Grape news

A Texas wine company that enjoys a faithful following in Fredericksburg is plowing fertile ground with a new winery and tasting room in Johnson City, a Hill Country neighbor.

William Chris Wine Co., based in the Blanco County town of Hye, recently started construction on a 9,260-square-foot winery and tasting room in Johnson City, representing an extension of its Lost Draw Cellars brand. Lost Draw already operates a winery and tasting room in Fredericksburg, which is about 30 miles west of Johnson City.

“We’re excited about growing the brand of Lost Draw,” says Andrew Sides, founder of Lost Draw Cellars and co-founder and chief operating officer of William Chris Wine. “I think it’s got a really great reputation already, but there’s just so much opportunity to really get it out in front of more people, and give more people an opportunity to see what we’re doing and experience the difference.”

The new 2,000-square-foot tasting room, at 1686 U.S. Highway 290, is set to open in September or October. The rest of the project is tentatively scheduled for completion in late 2023.

Designed by Austin’s Michael Hsu Office of Architecture, the new winery will feature a public tasting room, club-member tasting room, covered porch, retail store, barrel storage, offices, kitchen, and outdoor bar.

The 22-acre site already is home to a seven-acre vineyard that William Chris Wine planted in 2020. Four types of Bordeaux wine grapes are grown there. The vineyard should yield more than 15,000 bottles of wine per year, Sides says.

Aiming to capitalize on growing interest in the Johnson City area as a tourism spot, Sides envisions the new venue being a destination winery where visitors spend much of their day sipping wine, noshing on food, and socializing with family and friends. Nearby attractions include Pedernales Falls State Park, the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park, and the Lyndon B. Johnson Historic Site and State Park.

“I think Texas wine is at a point where where we just have nothing but great opportunity for growth,” Sides says. “More and more Texans are really starting to embrace Texas wine, which we didn’t necessarily have five to 10 years ago.”

The Lost Draw Cellars property in Fredericksburg, at 113 E. Park St., will remain open. But Sides says the name and format of the Fredericksburg site likely will be tweaked. The facility opened in 2014.

Lost Draw Cellars got its start producing wines from grapes grown at Lost Draw Vineyards in the Texas High Plains region, which includes Amarillo and Lubbock. Last year, William Chris Wine purchased the 78-acre Hoover Valley Vineyard in Burnet from Reed and Joan Williams. The company’s other holdings include William Chris Vineyards in Hye, and the Skeleton Key and Grower Project wine brands.

Photo courtesy of Spider Mountain Bike Park

First year-round ski-lift bike park in U.S. takes mountain bikers to new heights in Texas

Outdoor adventures

At Spider Mountain Bike Park in Burnet, what goes up must come down.

Located on Lake Buchanan about an hour northwest of Austin in the Hill Country, the attraction is the only year-round ski-lift bike park in the U.S. (In fact, it’s the only place in Texas with a ski-lift, period.)

Opened just before the pandemic, in 2019, the park draws mountain bikers from across the country for its year-round access to downhill, gravity-fueled biking terrain.

Here bikers (and their bikes) ride a chairlift called the Texas Eagle up 350 feet to the mountain’s peak, where they can choose from one of 10 different bike trails — from beginner to expert — to cruise back down.

“To have a chairlift in the middle of the Hill Country is really exciting whether you’re a mountain biker or not,” says Suzy Bauer, Spider Mountain Bike Park general manager. “Because you can enjoy a 360-degree view across the Hill Country and Lake Buchanan.”

Trails average about a mile or two in length and are categorized just like ski slopes, with green for beginners, blue for intermediate, and black for experts. The trails also have fun (and slightly frightening) spider-themed names, like “Itsy Bitsy,” “Venom,” and “Viper’s Den.” All trails are hand-carved or machine-cut, and some contain man-made features like colorful ramps. Some bikers can descent trails as fast as three minutes, while others may take as long as 15 minutes or so.

“In June you might be able to ride a bike park in Crested Butte, Colorado or in Angel Fire, New Mexico, but they close for ski season. We don’t,” says Bauer. “You can hone your skills in a downhill environment, which is pretty different than riding cross-country trails. You’re getting that elevation game and the technicality of a true downhill mountain bike park.”

Bauer says while there’s definitely opportunity for adrenaline junkies to showcase their jumps, speed, and switchback skills on the mountain, the park is also very popular for novice bikers and families. Many guests simply wish to ride the chairlift and walk back down, and there’s a dedicated hiking trail for doing just that. Some even opt to ride the Texas Eagle back down for the most leisurely of Spider Mountain experiences.

There’s also a practice trail on flat ground at the bottom of the mountain. Called “Creepy Crawly,” it’s where mountain biking newbies and even kids can gain confidence in biking on dirt. No lift ticket required.

Hidden from major thoroughfares and busy highways, Spider Mountain Bike Park is a destination for those in the know — and word is spreading. The park has plans to add more trails in the coming months, including a new black trail to keep pushing the envelope.

The park is also affiliated with nearby Thunderbird Lodge, which offers 23 lodging options as well as pontoon boats, kayaking, paddleboarding, and swimming. Bauer says several rooms will undergo renovations in the coming weeks to accommodate a growing clientele.

Spider Mountain Bike Park is open Friday through Sunday year-round, with extended hours during busier weeks. Lift tickets are $59 for adults for all-day access to the Texas Eagle chairlift. Tickets for young adults age 11-18 and seniors 60-plus are $55, and kids 10 and under may ride free.

No mountain bike? No problem. Spider Mountain offers bike rentals, too. Folks who wish to stay on foot and hike back down can pay $10 for all-day access to the chairlift.

Other spots to visit while in Burnet County

Where to stay:

Container City
Home to six cabins constructed from the trendy shipping container, Container City opened in November 2019 and sits at the southern foot of Spider Mountain. Each ultra-modern, custom-built cabin is equipped with a full kitchen, comfy beds, shower, TV, internet access, front patio, picnic area, and a dazzling rooftop patio for catching a Hill County sunset with a glass of wine. The property also has RV slips along with an on-site full-service bar, stage for weekend live music, and outdoor pizza kitchen. Rates start at $200 per night for weekend stays ($50 off for a weeknight), and $50 per night for RV slips.

Canyon of the Eagles
This nature-based overnight destination sits on 940 acres on Lake Buchanan in Burnet County and offers 61 rooms with sprawling views of Lake Buchanan’s northern bank. Don’t look for a TV or great internet access here — the resort’s intent for guests is to let go of technology and fast-paced living. Named for the American Bald Eagle who nest here annually, the resort offers many excursions including guided walks, boat cruises, and an amazing observatory staffed by a qualified astronomer who leads evening programs amid abundantly starry skies. Dine at the chef-driven Overlook Restaurant, which serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and catch live music with a cocktail on Saturday nights at the Eagles Nest Lounge. Rates start at $169 per night and vary by season and holidays.

Nature-seekers should keep in mind that Burnet is known as the "Bluebonnet Capital of Texas" and the surrounding areas come alive with color each spring.

Where to eat & drink:

Templeton’s Tavern
Located at Container City, this entirely outdoor venue serves local beer and spirits from, fittingly, a shipping container-made bar. There are picnic tables and lots open spaces for seating, along with a small stage for weekend live music and a trailer that serves pizzas made to order from a wood-fired oven. Open Thursday-Sunday.

Blue Bonnet Café
An iconic Marble Falls pit stop since 1929, this classic roadside diner is known statewide (and beyond) for its comfort food favorites, all-day breakfast served, and mile-high pies. Speaking of those pies — which include classics like coconut cream, chocolate cream, and lemon meringue — they’re on “pie happy hour” Monday-Friday from 3-5 pm. Or have a slice for breakfast, as an appetizer, or simply for dessert.

Save the World Brewing Co.
Physicians-turned-beer brewers Dave and Quynh Rathkamp operate this inspiring Marble Falls brewery and taproom, touted as America’s first 100 percent philanthropic production craft brewery. Not only are the mostly Belgian-style brews (it’s what Quynh prefers) delightful on the palate, sales from every pour or bottle purchased go to area charities. Dave had been an avid home brewer and retired from his practice 2012 to “save the world” one beer at a time. A few organizations the couple love include Food for the Hungry, Meals on Wheels, Feed My Starving Children, and Habitat for Humanity. The tap room is open Monday-Saturday, and there’s a kid-friendly lawn with yard games that is popular for families on the weekend.

Bikers and their bikes ride to the top of mountains via a ski lift.

Photo courtesy of Spider Mountain Bike Park
Bikers and their bikes ride to the top of mountains via a ski lift.
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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

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.

Brooks & Dunn boot-scoot into this week's 5 hottest Fort Worth headlines

This week's hot headlines

Editor's note: A lot happened this week, so here's your chance to get caught up. Read on for the week's most popular headlines. Looking for the best things to do this weekend? Find that list here.

1. Brooks & Dunn kick up 'Reboot Tour' with 2023 stop in Fort Worth. Brooks & Dunn, the best-selling duo of all time, are continuing their "Reboot Tour" in 2023, including a stop at Dickies Arena on Saturday, May 6. Fort Worth is the only Texas city on their list, and tickets went on sale Friday, January 27.

2. Much anticipated Italian restaurant from top Fort Worth team has a date. A new restaurant from one of Fort Worth's top food & beverage teams has an opening date: 61 Osteria, the much-anticipated restaurant from restaurateur Adam Jones and acclaimed chef Blaine Staniford, will open in downtown Fort Worth on January 31. Ta-da.

3. Wealthy Fort Worth neighbor cashes in as the richest city in Texas for 2023. North Texans wanting a glimpse into the lives of the 1 percent won't have to travel far to get a peek. Southlake has been named the richest city in Texas for 2023 in a recent study.

4. Quite the bounty of bites in this roundup of Fort Worth restaurant news. This roundup of restaurant news around Fort Worth includes restaurants newly opened, restaurants coming soon, new menus, new tacos, new pizzas, and more. So much more. Here's the latest batch of Fort Worth restaurant news.

5. The best Fort Worth restaurants to celebrate Valentine's Day 2023. For restaurants, Valentine’s Day is the Super Bowl of dining events, which is ironic this year since the actual Super Bowl takes place just two days prior, on February 12. This is not stopping some restaurateurs from hosting special Valentine’s dinners all weekend long, although some are cautiously opting out of Sunday and Monday. Here are the best options around town.

DFW-based Cinemark theater chain hosts Oscars-themed movie marathon

Awards News

The Cinemark movie chain is giving movie buffs an opportunity to brush up on the Oscars.

Plano-based Cinemark Holdings, Inc. will host its annual Oscar Movie Week festival, this year running from Monday, March 6 through Sunday, March 12, in anticipation of the 95th Oscars ceremony, which airs on March 12 on ABC.

The theater chain will air all of this year’s Best Picture and Best Live Action and Animated Short Film nominees, at more than 120 participating Cinemark theaters nationwide.

According to a release, passes are now on sale now at Cinemark.com/movieweek.

A full Digital Festival Pass is $40 and includes showings for all Best Picture and Best Live Action and Animated Short Film nominees. There's a perk! If you purchase a festival pass, you get 50 percent off any size popcorn during Oscar Movie Week.

Individual showtime tickets will be available starting January 27 at standard pricing, with showtimes beginning March 6.

All Best Live Action and Animated Short Film nominees are bundled into one viewing for just $10 from March 10-12.

For other brushing up, take a look back at what CultureMap’s film critic, Alex Bentley, had to say about each of the nominees (listed in alphabetical order) when they were originally released.

Cinemark has been hosting other similar marathon events such its collaboration with ESPN to bring college football games to the big screen.

The event takes place at these theaters across the U.S., including the following locations in Texas:

  • Austin: Cinemark Southpark Meadows
  • Denton: Cinemark 14
  • Fort Worth: Ridgmar Mall
  • Grapevine: Cinemark Tinseltown
  • Houston: Cinemark Memorial City
  • Plano: Cinemark Legacy
  • Plano: Cinemark West Plano
  • San Antonio: Cinemark San Antonio 16
  • The Woodlands: Cinemark 17