notableGrapefest2Photos courtesy of Grapevine Convention and Visitors Bureau

By Valerie Jarvis

With a name like Grapevine, it’s only natural that the city should host the largest wine festival in the Southwest. Now in its 29th year, GrapeFest celebrates the joys of viticulture with a Texas-sized dose of pride. From September 17-20, an eight-block stretch of the town’s historic Main Street area will be roped off to accommodate the multi-day event, which features tastings, food and craft vendors, a midway and live entertainment. Over 270,000 visitors are expected to attend.

Kicking off the festivities, a black-tie gala at the Cotton Belt Tower Grand Hall on Saturday, September 12 will honor leaders in the Texas wine community. Previous winners of the event’s “Tall in Texas Award” have included Paul and Merrill Bonarrigo of Messina Hof winery in Bryan and Dr. Richard and Bunny Becker of Becker Vineyards in Stonewall. The award pays tribute to wineries and individuals instrumental in promoting the Texas wine industry, which has seen dramatic growth in recent years. Texas now ranks fifth in U.S. wine production, following California, Washington, New York and Oregon.

During festival weekend, guests can sample and vote for their favorites among 150 wines from 40 Texas vintners as part of the People’s Choice Wine Tasting Classic, the largest consumer-judged wine competition in the nation. This year, winemakers from Oregon and Argentina will also be featured alongside Texas’s finest.

Beer lovers will find a multitude of American craft beers. To accompany vino and brew, food will include finer fare from area restaurants and artisan purveyors (Dr. Sue’s Chocolate comes to mind), as well as booths offering turkey legs, nachos and funnel cakes. Street vendors will supplement the restaurants, gift shops, galleries and tasting rooms, which line Main Street.

The Grape Stomp Contest offers a daily opportunity to experience juicing grapes the old-fashioned way—barefoot à la I Love Lucy. At the grand Stomp-Off on Sunday, a winning team of two will take home the coveted Purple Foot award (for crushing the most juice in the allotted time).

Five stages will feature live entertainment throughout the weekend. The KidCave area will keep little ones occupied with interactive games, LEGOLAND® Discovery Center-sponsored activities, a SEA LIFE Grapevine Aquarium touch pool, a petting zoo, face painting and crafts, plus the carnival and midway with games and rides. For adults, the Champagne Terrace, GrapeFest Golf Classic, GrapeFest Tennis Classic and ItalianCarFest will add additional excitement to an already packed program of events.

Festival admission is free all day Thursday and until 5 p.m. on Friday; $8 per adult thereafter. Weekend passes are $18 per person; souvenir weekend passes are $23 per person. The People’s Choice Tasting Classic is $20 per person, per day. (Ticket sales are limited to this event, so advance purchase is advised.) Unlimited carnival ride passes will be available for $25 in advance or $30 at the festival on Thursday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Remote parking is free, as is shuttle service to the event. Varied community organizations will offer closer-in parking, with fees going toward supporting their entities.


Grapevine brands itself as “The Headquarters of the Texas Wine Industry” and its commitment to showcasing Texas wines year-round is well-evidenced in the city’s Urban Wine Trail: multiple wine tasting rooms clustered in easy walking distance in Historic Downtown Grapevine, plus two outliers well worth a car trip to sample; here’s a list of highlights, giving special attention to wines with Texas provenance:

Cross Timbers Winery: Set in the circa-1875 Dorris/Brock home, with a restored Victorian country home and sprawling lawns, this winery is a five-minute drive from Downtown Grapevine and hosts a tasting room featuring 11 varietals grown in the High Plains, as well as selections from Casa Madero in Parras de la Fuente, Mexico, thought to be the oldest winery in the Western Hemisphere.

Delaney Vineyards & Winery: Home to the largest vineyard located in North Texas, this 8,000-square-foot winery on 10 acres approximately 10 minutes from downtown hosts tours of the winery facility, as well as tastings of two varietals and three blends made from grapes cultivated for success in the area’s unique terroir.

Homestead Winery: A charming 100-year-old Victorian house, just a block oœ Main Street, is the setting for this tasting room featuring more than 20 varietals, a sister property to Homestead tasting rooms and production facilities in Ivanhoe and Denison.

Messina Hof Grapevine Winery: Hosted by one of Texas’s most awarded wineries, this tasting room, located in a replica of the 19th century Wallis Hotel, offers an expansive selection of more than 50 wines from 28 different varietals, including private reserve port, Cabernet Franc and solera sherry from the main winery established in Bryan in 1977.

Umbra Winery: Opened in 2014, this tasting outpost of a winery operating in Little Elm since 2005 features tapas and more than a dozen wines, including award-winning selections under their own label, such as a Gold-Medal five-time winner of the GrapeFest People’s Choice award.


notableGrnChampFront: From left, Memnosyne cofounder Mary Ann Thompson-Frenk,
Joan Meeks of Commodity Recycling Solutions , Green Source DFW
founder Phillip Shinoda. Middle: Sharon Wilson of Earthworks,
Karen Sanders & Daniel Cunningham of Texas A&M Agrilife,
Georgeann Moss of DCCCD, Cathy McMullen of Denton Drilling
Awareness Group. Back, from left, Great Trinity Forest advocate Ben
Sandifer and Memnosyne cofounder Joshua Frenk. photo: Libbie Simonton

By Julie Thibodeaux

“Never underestimate the power of a small group
of committed people to change the world.”
~ Margaret Mead

The North Texas green community gathered in March to hear the inspiring stories of local environmental and sustainability advocates and applaud their achievements at the 4th annual Green Source DFW Sustainable Leadership Awards, held at the Dallas Center for Architecture. is an online resource that features original reporting on local green trends and environmental issues.

“The awards have now become a tradition, and they are coveted,” said Green Source DFW founder Phillip Shinoda. “They bring attention to people who are usually not recognized.”

The 2015 winners represent a broad spectrum of the green movement in North Texas. Mary Ann Thompson-Frenk of the nonprofit Memnosyne Institute, which funds Green Source DFW, said, “Every single one of these green advocates is a different spoke on a wheel that’s moving the community forward.”

The Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Georgeann Moss, a longtime sustainability advocate and leader of the Dallas County Community College District’s sustainability team. As director of Internet publishing at DCCCD, she spearheaded the creation of an all-volunteer team that led to four campuses hiring full-time sustainability directors. She also helped the college district reduce its environmental footprint through the purchasing department and the energy management team. In 2011, she launched DCCCD’s annual Sustainability Summit.

Joan Meeks, founder of Commodity Recycling Solutions in Fort Worth, received the award for Small Business—Entrepreneur. Meeks has established a successful commercial recycling business in an increasingly competitive industry. She has expanded her business from e-waste to one that also repurposes metals, plastics, paper, cardboard, clothing and shoes. “Every attempt is made to seek alternative avenues to reuse, repurpose or recycle commodities,” said Meeks.

The Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Dallas received the award for Large Business or Nonprofit Project. In 2006, the agency created the Urban Water Team to promote the efficient use of water in the urban environment. Its rain barrel education program has been its most successful program to date. Since 2006, class participants have constructed more than 10,000 barrels, with each 55-gallon barrel collecting as much as 2,100 gallons of water annually—that’s saving more than 21 million gallons of municipal water per year.

The Denton Drilling Awareness Group, the grassroots coalition that led the fight to ban fracking in Denton, won for Small Nonprofit. Shinoda compared their battle to a David and Goliath matchup, whose outcome stunned the industry. “Their win prompted a backlash from the oil companies and the state legislators,” said Shinoda.

Sharon Wilson, Earthworks organizer and nationally recognized anti-gas drilling blogger also known as Texas Sharon, received the award for Nonprofit Professional. While her Blue Daze Drilling Reform blog continues to draw a national following, she has been involved in every gas drilling reform battle in North Texas.

The Volunteer Award went to Ben Sandifer, the watchdog who has brought attention to the Great Trinity Forest and Pemberton Hill and the importance of protecting it.

Sandifer saw the city’s natural treasures being neglected—habitat destroyed, wildlife poached—and couldn’t sit idle. He gathered a band of supporters, created a blog and began talking to anyone who’d listen, serving as a media spokesperson for the cause.

“He’s an example of how one person can call attention to the whole community about an issue,” said Shinoda. “The Great Trinity Forest has been out of sight, out of mind for most people. He’s shown what can be done to put a spotlight on local environmental problems.”

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Edible Dallas & Fort Worth is a quarterly local foods magazine that promotes the abundance of local foods in Dallas, Fort Worth and 34 North Texas counties. We celebrate the family farmers, wine makers, food artisans, chefs and other food-related businesses for their dedication to using the highest quality, fresh, seasonal foods and ingredients.