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Letter from the Editor CEO AND PUBLISHER Mitchell Moorhead PRESIDENT AND PUBLISHER Scott O’Neill COO AND EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Erin Baxter CREATIVE DIRECTOR Tony Maples DEPUTY ART DIRECTOR Meg Moorhead MANAGING EDITOR Max McNabb SENIOR WRITER Spring Sault DIGITAL CONTENT EDITOR Yehoshua Flores CONTRIBUTING AUTHORS Robert C. Deming, Jenny Webster Jurica, Gay N. Lewis, Sonia Ramirez, Spring Sault, Melissa Trevathan-Minnis

Summer is upon us… and somebody turned up the thermostat. As Texas is being baked by the sun and temperatures keep soaring, we here in the Hill Country are lucky to have plenty of waterways to keep us cool. In our ultimate summer vacation issue, discover Hill Country waterways, fishing, watersports, kayaking, tubing, and all the other outdoor activities to enjoy your fun in the sun.

While you’re at it, go ahead and plan out where you’ll stay, eat some authentic Texas BBQ, and pick your own peaches! Finish your day at one of the fabulous Hill Country wineries. This issue really has it all – and offers some good old fashioned Texas history to boot.

As always, thanks very much for your continued support and love for our Hill Country and Heart of Texas Magazine. Without loyal fans like you, we couldn’t proudly exclaim, “We are Texas Hill Country!”

Erin Baxter


CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS AJ Guel, Amber Beadles, Samuel Beaver, Best Texas Travel, Robert C. Deming, Bob Dewey, E. Castle Photography & Fine Art, Franklin’s BBQ, Frio Country Resort, Full Moon Inn, Glory Hills Ranch, Wally Gobetz, Gold Orchards, Holiday Inn Club Vacations, Todd Leckie, Kenneth LeRose, Tony Maples, Ricky Niell, Todd Matthew Obiedo, Kimi Lukachik Phillips, Jason Weingart, Heather Beckham COVER PHOTO Courtesy of Marble Falls SALES DIRECTOR Luis Garza SALES REPRESENTATIVES Corporate Sales Office PO Box 8343 Horseshoe Bay, TX 78657 (512) 763-0051 sales@texashillcountry.com Heart of Texas Magazine produced by Texas Media Group

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CONTENTS Nancy Yarbrough’s Watercolor World............10 Texas Hill Country’s Artist Spotlight

Chasing BBQ Truths, Myths, and Legends......36 One Saucy Adventure

A Peach Pickin’ Perfect Summer.........................56 Indulge in the Juicy Goodness of a Texas Hill Country Summer

Unearthing Our Past..................................................................64 Step Back in Time with The Hill Country Archeological Association


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Nancy Yarbrough’s Fused Glass & Watercolor World by Gay N. Lewis


Photos by E. Castle Photography & Fine Art orn in Oklahoma City, this Texas Hill Country artist now calls Boerne home. Boerne is 30 miles northwest of San Antonio, and for any non-Texans out there, it’s pronounced “Burney.” Due to the captivating countryside, the Boerne area attracts a treasure trove of unique artists, and Nancy Yarbrough is one of them. Nancy says, “the beauty of God’s creation is a constant source of inspiration for my work.” Nancy’s art is exceptional. She paints fused glass. Literally, she paints with glass. She buys glass in sheet form and also purchases it in a ground-up form called frits. Frits are tiny pieces of glass. Imagine ground glass being applied to glass, and you’ll have a general idea of how Nancy produces her art. Nancy carefully applies the minuscule frits to a sheet of glass and then fires the work-in-progress in a kiln. Depending on what Nancy has in mind for the finished product, kiln temperatures range between 1,250-1,500 degrees. Nancy works in layers, building one glass layer at a time. Each layer goes into the kiln, and some pieces may have as many as eight layers. Additional layers make the piece appear more three dimensional. With heat, the particles of glass melt together to form a solid sculpture.

Nancy has taught classes, but at this time in her life, she prefers to merely create art and spend time with her grandchildren. The Yarbroughs have three married sons and seven grandchildren. The youngest son and family live in Boerne, and when all the family come home, they try to have a group picture made on Yarbrough property.

How did this family originate? If you guess a blind date, you’d be correct. Nancy and a friend had summer jobs in downtown Dallas. On a whim, Nancy asked the friend if she knew a guy she could date. Her friend knew a guy—her brother! Her current sister-in-law made plans for Stephen to meet Nancy. Stephen was in Dallas planning to attend dental school. Six months later, that blind date ended with marriage. Now, 46 years down the road, they continue to grow their Stained glass was her first medium, and then Yarborough family. entered the world of watercolor. From watercolor, she migrated to fused glass. In the Carriage House Gallery of After four years of dental school, Stephen Yarbrough moved Artists in Boerne, you’ll find her fused glass sculptures and to Lake Jackson, and of course, he took his wife with him. watercolors. The family lived there for 35 years while Stephen practiced Yarbrough has two studios in her home: a small painting dentistry, but they grew tired of hurricanes. They’d always studio for watercolor and a larger one for glass. She is not planned to live in Boerne, and six years ago, that day finally open to the public; however, by appointment, she can make arrived. arrangements for someone to watch as she works. Now and then, she’ll host a girls’ get-together and let everyone play As a mother and homemaker in Lake Jackson, Nancy with glass. Imagine the fun that would be! continued to be drawn to art. She had always sketched and had been an art minor at Stephen F. Austin. When the last 10 / Heart of Texas Magazine Summer 2018

son drove off to college, Nancy decided to learn more about considers herself Texan. She loves Texas people and says, “We’re so friendly down here. People open up and easily watercolor and attended class to absorb new techniques. talk to each other. We have a love for God and country.” She The Hill Country inspires her with the beauty of granite identifies with the state motto, “Friendship.” Her much-loved rocks, lush hills, and bountiful native plants. How does food is Mexican and her least favorite detail about Texas is she find ideas? The answer is everywhere. Nancy takes the heat. photographs of vistas and then watercolors the scene on heavy paper mounted to a backer board. Her latest project Yarbrough’s work is shown at the Carriage House Gallery of is illustrating in watercolor a children’s book, Sweet Child of Artists in Boerne. While visiting the gallery, you’ll find Nancy Mine, written by her daughter-in-law. has provided take-home affordable art. Nancy’s miniature watercolors come in a variety of sizes for $50. Glass is After diving into watercolor, Nancy grew enamored with expensive to work with and requires a large investment, but fused glass, and her sculptures amaze enthusiasts. For watercolor is more reasonable. Nancy’s miniatures are the instance, in her representation of poppies, Nancy began by perfect memento from the Texas Hill Country. cutting the flowers from glass, and then she painted with the diminutive, glass powder until all glass and colors fused Nancy Yarbrough’s life is filled with adventure. She not only together. These sculptures capture the imagination of the sculpts with glass and paints with watercolors, but she and onlooker. Yarbrough rarely works on consignment. She says, Stephen take care of 17 goats. For more information, you can “it’s hard to take another’s idea and develop it into art.” find Nancy online at carriagehousegalleryofartists.com and www.nacyyarbrough.com. Even though she began life in Oklahoma, Yarbrough TexasHillCountry.com / 11

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Romantic, Rustic,or


The 5 Best Places to Stay This Summer by Jenny Webster Jurica

It’s no secret that the Texas Hill Country is a favorite summer travel destination for most Texans. Aside from the fact that the Hill Country is an easy and scenic day’s drive from most every region of the state, the area also holds the appeal of having the best vistas and the coldest, clearest water in Texas. When choosing lodging for your visit to the Texas Hill Country, whether you are looking for a rustic place to reconnect with nature or a romantic getaway to rekindle with a loved one, the Texas Hill Country has unique accommodations to suit everyone and every occasion..

Full Moon Inn, Fredericksburg

Rekindle Your Romance. The Full Moon Inn is everything that a Texas Bed & Breakfast should be. With options that range from rooms and cabins to suites, this rustic and romantic B&B is centrally located in Fredericksburg. Located just three minutes from most of the vineyards and wineries that Highway 290 is famous for, and merely 3,000 feet from iconic Luckenbach, there is no shortage of things to do with your sweetheart. Speaking of sweethearts: The Full Moon Inn is also pet-friendly, so don’t fret over who will watch Fido while you’re away soaking up the ambiance of the Texas Hill Country--grab the leash, load him up, and bring him along! To learn more, visit www.fullmooninn.com or call (830) 997-2205. Photos courtesy of Full Moon Inn.

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Geronimo Creek, Seguin Claim Bragging Rights for the Most Unique Accommodations. Many people dream of sleeping under the Texas stars in a teepee, and at Geronimo Creek Retreat, you can do just that! The good news is that you don’t have to compromise on comfort in order to enjoy your nights in a teepee. The teepees at Geronimo Creek Retreat come fully furnished and air conditioned. Each teepee has its own private bathroom nearby and sleeps four to six people comfortably. After a restful night in your teepee, you can take advantage of the natural beauty of the grounds at Geronimo Creek by kayaking, swimming, and soaking in the hot tub after a full day of adventure. To learn more, visit www.geronimocreekretreat.com or call (888) 993-6772. Photos courtesy of Best Texas Travel.

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Holiday Inn Club Vacations Hill Country Resort, Canyon Lake Keep the Kids Entertained and Active. If you’ve got active kids to keep entertained this summer, look no further than the Holiday Inn Club Vacations Hill Country Resort located at Canyon Lake. This outdoor-oriented resort overlooks beautiful Canyon Lake. In addition to all of the fun to be had at the lake, don’t miss the five on-site outdoor pools (and one indoor pool), miniature golf course, movie theater, and sports courts. Choose a spacious villa that will meet your family’s needs with ample sleeping spaces, private bathrooms, and even washers and dryers located inside some of the villas. With a familiar name like Holiday Inn, guests can rest easy knowing that their family weekend away will be trouble-free and (above all else) relaxing. To learn more, visit ihg.com or call (830) 935-4355. Photos courtesy of Holiday Inn Club Vacations Hill Country Resort.

Glory Hills Ranch, Pipe Creek Reconnect With Nature and Family. Just outside of beautiful and historic San Antonio sits Glory Hills Ranch. The area where Glory Hills Ranch is located is steps from where Santa Anna marched his army to the Alamo in 1836. While the surrounding areas have changed much since then, the natural beauty of this stretch of rolling Hill Country is relatively untouched. If a family reunion is in order for 2018, consider Glory Hills Ranch an all-inclusive spot to enjoy some time with loved ones this summer. Featuring individual guest rooms as well as a large, traditional Texas Hill Country-style lodge, the warmth of the area is evident around every corner of this expansive property. Stay busy at Glory Hills Ranch with an exciting photo safari of the ranch’s many exotic animals and ride around on ATVs to navigate into tucked away parts of the property. You’ll leave Glory Hills Ranch with a new appreciation for nature and perhaps even a new lease on life. To learn more, visit www.gloryhillsbb.com or call (806) 790-8196. Photos courtesy of Glory Hills Ranch.

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Frio Country Resort, Concan Have the Quintessential “Frio River” Family Experience. Any Texan worth their mettle knows that the Frio River is the best place to cool off during the dog days of summer. Named for the Spanish word for “cold,” the typically 68 degree Frio River has cooled many a hot and ornery Texan through the centuries. Heck, even George Strait longingly refers to the Frio in his 1987 hit, “All My Exes Live in Texas”--so you know it’s a special place! The best place to stay while visiting the Frio River is the Frio Country Resort. The Frio Country Resort features 30 coveted acres of private Frio River frontage. With accommodations that range from “cabin in the woods,” to “luxury golf course”-style homes, there is something to please everyone in the family at the Frio Country Resort. To learn more, visit www.friocountry.com or call (830) 232-6625. Photos courtesy of Frio Country Resort.

For many who live in Texas’ sprawling metroplex areas, a trip to the Texas Hill Country feels like a true vacation and an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. In fact, many might argue that there’s little that a bit of river water and a vibrant Texas sunset can’t cure. No matter what your goal is for a summer getaway, there’s a spot just for you in the Texas Hill Country. So, grab your family, your pet or your sweetheart and head to the Texas Hill Country this summer for a getaway that you’ll dream about all year long. TexasHillCountry.com / 19

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Treat The Body, Mind, and Soul

to a Hill Country Summer Vacation by Spring Sault

Saying you’re spending your summer vacation in the Texas Hill Country is sure to have some side effects; things like envy (you might see your neighbors turn a greenish color), a feeling that you’re the target for some misdirected jealousy, and your Instagram account suddenly gaining double its followers due to recent posts or tags including #TexasHillCountry or #YouHateUsCauseYouAintUs. Also, be prepared for the after effect of pure bliss. Why? Because you’ll be soaking in the heart of Texas!

to the romantic, it’s tough to find a more suited place to spend a summer vacation. And, honestly, why would you look elsewhere? The highways and FM roads and the many small towns that fan out west of San Antonio make up this beautiful region where you’ll find some diamonds-in-the-rough when it comes to places to visit, things to do, and sights to see. You’ll also find winding rivers, shimmering lakes, and fields billowing with native plants and lined by age-old trees that have seen the transformation of the rustic German towns that dot the landscape.

The Texas Hill Country is a lot of things, but dull isn’t one of them. Offering adventures for outdoors-people, art Fredericksburg, Boerne, New Braunfels, and Kerrville are and literature locales and events for the intellectual, and just a few of the great places you can visit and tour that can accommodations that suit everyone from the thrill seeker easily find you spending entire days of your vacation wishing 22 / Heart of Texas Magazine Summer 2018


this was more of a permanent move.

In the same vein, if you’d rather have a little more control over your river experience, consider spending a couple of blissful hours in a rented kayak making your way along the Medina River, or doing the Mission Paddle Trail in San Antonio. Offering some of the most scenic paddling that the Hill Country has to offer, these options allow for you to see local beauty, experience the history of the area, and manage some new kayaking skills in the process.

Grab yourself a beer (or your beverage of choice), turn up the tunes, and make a splash in your summer vacation by tubing in the crystal-clear, spring-fed rivers of the Texas Hill Country. Arguably one of the most stunning, not to mention popular, spots for tubing is on the Frio River, where a number of outfitters can get you geared up and floating your cares away in no time! Other settings to soak up some sun floating downstream include the Comal, Guadalupe, San Marcos, Speaking of paddling, you could also consider taking a and Blanco rivers, where you can experience the beauty of canoe or boat out for some fishing time with friends. The the region while winding your way past towing cypress trees, Texas Hill Country offers some of the best fishing in the state, flora and fauna, and any cares you left behind you at the dock. and it’s coupled with some of the most breathtaking views. Having a great share of state parks and an abundance of

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photo by Samuel Beaver

photo by Samuel Beaver

lakes, rivers, and streams, the fishing conditions couldn’t be better, allowing anglers plenty of opportunities to catch their limit in such places as the Sabinal River at Lost Maples State Park, Canyon Lake, Cypress Creek in Wimberley, and the Pedernales River at Pedernales State Park. Each of these locations offers a variety of species and many ways to fish – by boat, from a dock, by kayak or canoe, and even fly fishing!

photo by Samuel Beaver that have the ability to say they make the trek. It’s extremely peaceful and moving at the same time, and you can end your day camping at the park, making your experience a great turnkey trip. For a hike with a little lighter effort but the same great impact, consider visiting Enchanted Rock near Fredericksburg; one of the largest natural rock formations in America and home to centuries of myth and legend. The amazing views of this monolith are surpassed only by those from its summit. Its dome rises 425 feet above the ground and it’s designated as a State Natural Area where hiking is extremely popular. A four-mile moderate-level trail encompassing several rock formations can be traveled here, including the shorter, steeper trail that leads to the top. Camping is also available here for those that wish to spend the night in the heart of what was formerly a Native American historic site and the beginnings of Texas lore.

If staying on dry land is more your passion, spend some time hiking the innumerable trails found in and throughout the Texas Hill Country, offering beauty that’s unsurpassed and photo opportunities that are prettier than a postcard. Take a trip to Colorado Bend State Park where you can hike to Gorman Falls – a diamond in field of rhinestones in terms of its natural exquisiteness, and the park’s main attraction. This 1.5-mile-long hike takes you through some rugged ranch country, with the final 100 yards composed of a rocky descent, but the steep path leads you to a mist-filled chasm featuring half a dozen cascades spilling over a 60-foot limestone cliff. The pools at the base form a moss and fern-draped grotto that Those looking for family fun or full-on, heart-pounding has been the envy of many a photographer, let alone hikers excitement may want to add area amusement and water 24 / Heart of Texas Magazine Summer 2018

photo by Samuel Beaver parks to their Texas Hill Country summer vacation to-do list, including Six Flags Fiesta Texas in San Antonio and Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels. Families with special needs will also be happy to know that the first amusement park in the U.S., designed for everyone to have the ability to make special memories, is right here in the heart of Texas at Morgan’s Wonderland in San Antonio. A summer vacation that allows everyone to be a part of the fun is easily doable in this neck of the woods!

photo by Heather Beckham

And, never let it be said that the Texas Hill Country is lacking in worldly wonders or charmed facets of life. Art and wine tours are practically our middle name! Llano, Dripping Springs, and Fredericksburg are known for their studio tours, art shows, and numerable galleries which comprise a wonderfully eclectic art scene many a visitor revels in. And, our AVA (American Viticulture Area) is the second largest in America, making our region a pleasure to tour for wine enthusiasts. In particular, Wine Road 290 (as it is known) has a variety of vineyards and wineries overflowing with local production, which are worth every sip! Couple that with a stay in a charming and cozy Texas Hill Country bed & breakfast, and you have a recipe for summer vacation success you’ll want to write home about – because remember, the bountiful side effects you’ll experience from such a holiday won’t disappear overnight – they’re something your family and friends will have for years to come!

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Let the Fun Begin

here is no better way to cool-off this hot summer than spending time at Son’s Island with 4,000 feet of Island lakefront. Son’s Island is an easy family-friendly summer outing. Choose from a day or evening cabana rental or plan to stay overnight in one of our glamping tents. While on Son’s Island try your hand at kayaking, paddle boarding, or floating around on Lake Placid on an iFloat. Each cabana has a barbeque pit, water, lounge chairs, hammock, picnic table, electricity, and your own private dock. Become an Islander today! Reservations are available online at: SonsIsland.com, info@besttexastravel.com or call 888-993-6772

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Chasing BBQ

T�uths, Myths, and Le T

by Sonia Ramirez

ried and true, and about as Texan as we can get, is our love affair with Barbeque. Or is it BBQ, Bar-b-que, barbecue, or even barbacoa? There is no argument there are a variety of ways used to pronounce it, just as there are a variety of down-home family recipes passed from generation to generation ready to argue their barbecue is the best! Believe it or not, it also goes way beyond Texas. Although we Texans love to brag we have the best barbecue anywhere across the globe, the truth of the matter is scrumptious barbeque can be found in other states each with their own unique style to it. Is it as renowned as say Black’s Barbecue in Lockhart, Franklin’s BBQ in Austin, or Truth BBQ in Brenham? Some would argue not, but one thing is for sure everything is bigger in Texas, and good barbecue is a prime example. The evolution of our beloved barbecue can be traced to areas known as the “barbecue belt,” according to an article by Smithsonian.com. “The area of the United States known as the “barbecue belt” houses four distinct barbecue traditions – Carolina, Texas, Memphis and Kansas City.” Interestingly enough, I also came across an article from CulinaryLore in my search for the backstory on barbecue and came across some unique explanations as to where the word derives from. Call them what you may, facts, theories, myths, the following explanations as to how the word barbecue made its way into the hearts of millions is worth a share. One theory, according to culinarylore.com, says the French laid claim to the word by stating it comes from… “barbe à queue which translates loosely into “from beard to tail.” Simply put, roasting the entire pig over fire pits. Which, according to CulinaryLore, was how the first barbecues were done. The Spanish laid claim to the derivative of the word by stating it… “to have actually come from the Carribbean Taino Indians, who cooked on high wooden racks above burning wood. They called these racks barbacoas,” according to CulinaryLore. Furthermore, they state Columbus brought this technique back to Spain who in turn introduced the pigs into the mix because they “brought the pigs to Florida which multiplied throughout the Southeast.” Lastly, the word is said to come from “the Taino word barabicu which means the sacred fire pit,” shared CulinaryLore. Although these explanations sound good in theory, the origins

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Legends through Texas “Cooking is like painting or writing a song. Just as there are so many notes or colors, there are only so many flavors- It’s how you combine them that sets you apart.”-Wolfgang Puck vary as much as the variety of barbecue recipes you will come across. Regardless of where the word barbecue originated, many Texans will tell you some of the best fall off the bone, melt in your mouth, kind of BBQ can be traced back to pits grilling your favorite meats starting bright and early in almost any corner of our picturesque Hill Country roads. All be it as mentioned above “the barbecue belt” goes far beyond Texas into Carolina, Memphis, and Kansas City. Each with their own unique flair for seasoning, and creating the tantalizing sauce smothered on top but for the purpose of this article let’s just say Texas is the granddaddy of them all! Barbecue is second nature to Texas. It’s a part of the fabric that makes up the Lone Star State with Central, South, East and West regions in Texas being as diverse as the “barbecue belt” with their own style of barbecue. In Central Texas, according to Wikipedia, you might find barbecue being cooked over pecan, oak, or mesquite wood or a combination of all three. “Central Texas pit-style barbecue was established in the 19th century along the Chisholm Trail in the towns of Lockhart, Luling, and Taylor.” East Texas will be the best place for that “fall off the bone” style with its meat cooked over hickory wood and smothered with a “sweet, tomato-based sauce.” West Texas will find you enjoying barbecue cooked over high temps from mesquite wood. Sometimes referred to as “cowboy style,” according to Wikipedia. Let’s not forget the Southern-style barbecue you will come across highlighted by its thicker sauce bringing out the tantalizing flavors of the moist meat it’s known for. It’s also known for its barbacoa introduced by Mexican farmhands. “It is the cow’s head which defines South Texas barbecue (called barbacoa),” states Wikipedia. After being wrapped in “wet maguey leaves” and cooked for several hours in a pit with hot coals, it would be pulled off for barbacoa tacos South Texas is renowned for. Many barbecue places have been passed down through generations of families with their own special recipes. It’s interesting to see the paths that have made some of these crowd favorites a little slice of heaven with a side order of homemade goodness served up with Texas hospitality. TexasHillCountry.com / 37

Pecan Lodge BBQ

Lcated in Deep Ellum Dallas. Independently owned and operated by Justin & Diane Fourton. “They offer the perfect balance of sweetness and vinegary bite to offset the richness of the smoked meat,” shared the couple in a previous article with Heart of Texas. Everything is made from scratch along with old family recipes shared along the way. pecanlodge.com

Blacks BBQ

Located in Lockhart. This has been a Hill Country favorite since 1932. “3rd Generation Pitmaster Kent Black slow smokes all Barbecue the way his grandfather did in 1932. A simple rub, local Post Oak Wood and patience is the secret,” shares its website. blacksbbq.com

Franklins BBQ

Located in Austin where the atmosphere is just as enticing as their barbecue. Aaron and Stacy Franklin opened Franklin Barbecue in December of 2009, and usually have a line out the door. Most of their fame comes from their delectable brisket. Just salt and pepper is the seasoning of choice. franklinbbq.com

Opie’s Barbecue

A Hill Country family-owned gem since 1999 in Spicewood, Texas. Their sweet and spicy baby back ribs will keep you coming back for more. opiesbarbecue.coms

Louie Mueller Barbecue

Located in Taylor Texas, needs a mention as it’s known as a Texas staple around these parts. Continuing the legacy left by his father, Bobby Mueller carried on the legacy “described as a “cathedral of smoke” due to producing the finest BBQ in Texas since opening its doors in 1949,” shares its website. Today his son Wayne is the 3rd Generation Owner | Pit Master. louiemuellerbarbecue.com

T he Salt Lick BBQ

Located in Driftwood, TX “A Texas legend since 1967,” according to its website. If you know barbecue you know Salt Lick with “recipes that have roots back to the wagon trains in the mid-1800’s.” saltlickbbq.com The list is endless for barbecue connoisseurs and enthusiasts on the hunt for a great place to stop around Texas for some down-home, slow cooked, mouthwatering brisket, chicken, or sausage, and homemade sides to go with that order of an American classic. A legend in its own rite no matter how you pronounce it or where it started. One thing for sure it’s here to stay and continue growing its roots deep in the heart of Texas.

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Todd Matthew Obiedo Ingram, Texas TexasHillCountry.com / 39

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The Three Fa Grapevines, Vinting, and Selling

Story and photos by Robert C. Deming

“Notes of plum, black cherry, and currant. Big, beefy, meaty. Oaky, tannins, Terroir, Texas Hill Country AVA, For Sale in Texas Only.” What do these terms have in common? They are used to describe the flavors in wine and the Texas wine business, and to those who aren’t as familiar with the art of tasting wine, confusing. The business of wine is exploding in the Texas Hill Country, and trying to understand all this may make you think your head is exploding, too.

make your head spin. You can break the winery craze down into three parts: growing grapes, making wine, and the business of wine.

If you visit Perissos Vineyard on Lake Buchanan, you may meet Seth Martin, and you will quickly learn that wine comes from grapes, grown on grapevines, with nutrients which come from roots—and Seth is all about roots. In 1999, Seth and his wife Laura planted grapevines beside their Austin home, and The story of Texas wine may have started with a few years later made wine in the garage. “It was Franciscan priests in 1662, but the recent growth will undrinkable,” Seth admitted. As a third generation 42 / Heart of Texas Magazine Summer 2018

Faces of �ne

Austin homebuilder, he knew how to tackle problems, and he enlisted the help of a laboratory to tell him why his wine was so bad. Lots of trial and error and more lab tests followed, until they bought some property out of Burnet and planted vines. Seth focuses on feeding the roots of his grape vines with an exotic mixture of fertilizers and eschews the easy fix from chemicals. The compost includes manure from the San Antonio Zoo, fish, seaweed, kelp, and molasses. After a summer of tediously tending the grapes in his estate vineyard, they are harvested

by hand. Seth believes a great wine starts with healthy roots, and he believes that Texas grapes from Texas soil, and yes, even Texas weather produces wines comparable to any in the world. Seth has never used grapes from outside of the state, and he’s not starting now. Way back in the old-timey days (1975) before there was a winery every few feet on US Highway 290, Austin attorney and rancher Ed Auler took his new wife Susan to France for their honeymoon. They wanted to learn about French cows, but were more intrigued by French TexasHillCountry.com / 43

wine. Two years later they planted grape vines near Lake Buchanan. By 1979, they had opened the first Hill Country winery, Fall Creek Vineyards. Introducing people to their wines took lots of time and effort, but now this storied winery produces wines sold around the world and awarded medals at major international competitions. Their efforts resulted in the creation of the second-largest American Viticultural Area (AVA) in the country, Texas Hill Country AVA, which includes 9 million acres and soil ranging from clay loam and sandy clay loam with limestone and decomposed granite subsoil types. Rainfall averages 24 inches per year, and elevations from 425 to 2,100 feet above sea level; this terroir produces wines and flavors unique to Texas. The Texas Hill Country now hosts 53 wineries, and it all began with a honeymoon. When asked about the well-publicized problems with Pierce’s Disease around the world, William Chris Wines founder Bill Blackmon said, “Pierce’s Disease is down the list of problems.” Late freezes, hailstorms, and rain just before harvest are bigger concerns. Bill ought to know, the Texas Tech Agriculture grad has been growing grapes in Texas since 1983. One of his current favorites is Mouvedre. Perissos Winery tries out new varietals in small sections, always searching for grapes which traditionally grow well in a similar climate in southern Europe, and their current favorites are Viogner, Tempranillo, and Alianca. Even though Texas is more challenging than some places, vineyards are being planted up and down US Hwy 290 between Fredericksburg and Johnson City, and even on FM 965 to Enchanted Rock. The business of wine has brought people from all over the world to the area to stake a claim in the Texas Hill Country. One of those winemakers is Ben Calais, a native of Belgium from a family with a long history of making wine in the French way. His tiny winery and tasting room only holds 10 guests and is open limited hours. Just down the road at Lewis Wines are Doug Lewis and Duncan McNabb; their young faces may not be what you expect to see in a highly rated winery. They, and everyone else working there, look entirely too young for this business, but don’t sell them short – all around the AVA you will see millennials making and selling wine. Texas is a sexy name to attach to a bottle of wine, but if you are interested in tasting pure Texas, wine made from grapes grown in our unique terroir, wine which is truly all-Texan, you must be discriminating. Much of the wine sold in the Hill Country is actually not from Texas at all. If a bottle of wine is less than 75% Texas grapes, it is labeled “For Sale in Texas Only,” and only a handful of Texas wineries are committed to producing all-Texas wines. As the number of vineyards in the state grows, the cost of grapes is decreasing. Come out to the Hill Country, and find some of the taste of Pure Texas. The bottom line, according to Cord Switzer, a long-time advocate of Texas wine who founded Fredericksburg Winery in 1996, is simply this: “The only thing you need to know about wine is what you like and what you don’t like. Everything else is nice to know, but not need to know.

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MaxSpringThomas Branch, Texas TexasHillCountry.com / 45

Stoney LaRue The Man, The Message,

The Red Dirt Icon by Spring Sault

Photos by AJ Guel

One of the biggest acts in the Texas Red Dirt music scene, Stoney LaRue has been a crowd favorite in and out of the Lone Star State for some time now. A singer-songwriter who is well-known for his list of number one hits including “Feet Don’t Touch the Ground,” “Oklahoma Breakdown,” and “Down in Flames,” LaRue has been selling-out venues over the course of his career, which now spans two decades of bringing his unique brand of country music to the stage. Taking time out of his business schedule to give us an interview, he was happy to discuss what makes him tick.

Born in Texas and raised in Oklahoma, LaRue has built a tremendous fan base from the sound of his roots – a blend of Texas country, southern rock, and his own vibration and lyrics – fusing down-home blues with a tasty Texas sound that’s allowed him to do what he loves for a living. But, it wasn’t always this easy. When he first broke out onto the scene 20 years ago, he was a young voice looking to impress in a music scene that wasn’t entirely expansive – the Red Dirt genre was something one needed to earn their chops in, to say the least, and it still is today. But, with each show, and his ability to be the conduit for the message (or carry the flag, so-tospeak), he has reached the gates of success in the industry at a level that many can only dream of. Now, leading the charge on the Texas music scene, which includes a variety of Red Dirt artists that LaRue can take pride in inspiring and a fan base that has expanded, inclusive of every walk of life from redneck to white collar, LaRue plays over 200 dates per year, bringing his music to the masses at venues he had once only dreamed of. The man whose mentors include the great Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Ray Charles, and Waylon Jennings explains his ability to do so saying it stemmed from, “…a feeling or idea. [Their music] sounded different from everything else to me and I didn’t know why. And, I had emotions that I didn’t know how to harness otherwise. I wanted to write like that and sing like that and put it into a live application.” Coming off the heels of “Us Time,” a collection of previously unreleased music and popular covers chosen by fans, LaRue’s entirely independent style has launched him into a road lifestyle that he’s proud to say he lives enthusiastically. “It’s on the bus, it’s fresh, green juice and egg whites every day, and it’s going to a show.” TexasHillCountry.com / 47

His devoted fans will understand his efforts to take good care of himself considering a pending new album release, yet untitled, which is scheduled for later this year – with a sound and new music that might surprise and impress. As far as his hectic tour schedule goes, his last show for the spring season in the Texas Hill Country was played on May 26 in Austin, but that doesn’t mean he’s not ready-and-willing, at the drop of a hat, to play for his passions. He’s headlined a number of benefits for such causes as tornado relief, cancer support and research, wildlife management, and youth initiatives, and he’s not slowing down any time soon. His new project incorporates the vocal stylings of such acts as Tanya Tucker, Ray Benson, and Alison Krauss & Union Station, to name a few, and if it seems like his event calendar is a bit aggressive, it is. The upcoming release of his new album coupled with his desire to continue to bring his best to his fans means a flurry of social media shares, live events, and recording dates that result in a carefully managed routine he loves. Staying connected with his fans, LaRue explained, “I handle my Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat personally, while the official Facebook page is managed by my media team,” noting that what he loves is not necessarily being the man out front but being the catalyst for a message that’s sent and shared through his music. There are songs yet to be sung and fans yet to satisfy with the kind of music that Stoney LaRue produces. When asked about future career goals he would like to reach and venues he would like to play, he certainly didn’t aim low (the mark of a true groundbreaker whose avant-garde style has led him to where he is today)… he didn’t hesitate to say that Madison Square Garden in New York and the Sydney Opera House in Australia were high on his list. If the level of anticipation for his upcoming studio-recorded album is any indication, he’ll be securing tour dates there in the very near future, producing more of the sound his fans love and bringing his rough-around-the-edges Texas style to a global audience.

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A Summer Day in

The Great Texas


by Spring Sault Few could contradict the fact that the heart of Texas radiates a natural beauty beyond compare. Chock full of ways to spend time in the great outdoors, the area has a sort of unwritten agenda that waits to entertain you. Get your hiking shoes, your sunscreen, and camping gear, pack up the family and get ready to take the leap into the good life, spending summertime outdoors in the Texas Hill Country. Lace up your hikers and prepare to roam the trails at places like Hill Country State Natural Area and Cibolo Nature Center. Two very different yet similar experiences, they offer a peek into the eco systems that fill our outdoor space and generally are the 50 / Heart of Texas Magazine Summer 2018

heartbeat of the region. Tall prairie grasslands, riparian forests filled with towering, leafy tree canopies, wideopen savannahs, marshlands, and rocky limestone formations and outcroppings can all be found in these quiet and peaceful settings designed with hiking and summertime outdoor experiences in mind. When you’re finished hiking, little uncertainty exists that one of the best places to cool your heels in the Texas Hill Country is in the water. Blessed with a variety of lakes (natural and man-made), cool rivers, and clear, spring-fed streams, the Hill Country is the perfect summertime spot to revive your energy while keeping your family entertained for the day. Flanked

by acres of shaded space and offering quaint and comprehensive open picnic areas (some with added amenities), spending time on, in, or even near the water here means the utmost in relaxation and summer fun. There are many area swimming holes to visit for great scenic views and general good times, including Jacob’s Well in Wimberley, Blue Hole Regional Park, Hamilton Pool at Dripping Springs, and Krause Springs in Spicewood. And, if watersports are more your style, Inks Lake and Lake Marble Falls feature kayak and boat rentals, not to mention various area outfitters to get you into the right gear. Spend some time in our area state parks designed for summertime family fun, including campsites ranging from fully serviced RV spots right through to roughing it. Arrive early, set up your site, and bust out the football or Frisbee for a game. Explore the parks on foot or opt for a trail ride (available at some sites) and afterward, you can take a quick dip to cool off before digging around in the cooler for lunch and a cold drink. Follow that up with some downtime under the trees and a picnic before really hitting the water for some extended afternoon play. Many of our parks also offer stand-up paddle board rentals, canoes, and kayaks for leisurely use. Ample opportunities also exist for other kinds of summer water fun in the parks such as fishing, floating, and swimming. As the sun sets on your summer day in the great outdoors here in the Texas Hill Country, you can polish it off spending time by a campfire, sharing laughs with friends, or find yourself at a local event, dancing the night away under the stars. Just because the day has ended doesn’t mean you have to rush inside, and don’t forget…there’s plenty more fun to be had the following day, when we get up and do it all over again! Here’s to summertime in Texas and enjoying all that you can outside. photo by Ricky Niell

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A Peach Pickin’

Perfect Summer by Melissa Trevathan-Minnis


exans know when summer arrives because the air becomes warm and thick, and the selection of fruit changes to peaches and strawberries. Especially those of us in the Hill Country. We wait all year for peach season! There are few things as intoxicating as the smell and taste of a sun-ripened peach, freshly picked off a peach tree.

preserves to enjoy throughout the year.

All by itself, added to a pie, or served with ice cream, it is almost impossible to mess up a peach. While some might prefer the ease of the grocery store or a streetvendor, those dedicated to the fresh taste and aroma of a just-picked peach know there is no comparison. There is also something wonderfully organic about picking produce from its source and taking a bite. Those that enjoy making jams and jellies delight in choosing their own fresh selection and creating

Fredericksburg and the surrounding areas offer the best selection of options for peach-picking, but we’ve selected several cities with orchards open to the public. Choose one you’d like to visit, or make it a road trip and hit all of them! Take note of the gift shops and restaurants that accompany many of these orchards. These provide a nice place to relax, cool off, and refuel after a morning or afternoon of picking.

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The Hill Country offers a wide variety of places to take part first-hand in the selection and eating of peaches and produce of all kinds. This is the time of year to do it! As blackberry season is about to end, the peach is about to step in as season king!

Marburger Orchard

Marburger Orchard has provided itself on fresh produce for over 40 years. Not only can you pick peaches, but also strawberries and blackberries. With any produce, quantities depend of the weather. Marburger updates their webpage regularly to let the public know when their supply is low or abundant. You can pick as much as you want to pay for. You can find their website here: marburgerorchard.com

Vogel Orchard

Another great orchard open to the public in Fredericksburg is Vogel Orchard. Vogel Orchard was established in 1953 by George and Nelda Vogel who maintained the farm for years and are still involved. Over time, their children have stepped into the business and while it has grown, that same small-business model charm shines through. In addition to picking peaches, you can also take a look at their other selections like peach butter and fig preserves. Check them out here: vogelorchard.com

Gold Orchard

Tucked away in Stonewall, Texas is quaint Gold Orchard. Established in 1940, the orchard touts four generations of family contribution to the business. They also offer plums, nectarines, and produce. Best of all perhaps, is their indoor ice cream room where visitors can enjoy peach ice cream and award-winning peach pie! Better yet, have a little of each!

Love Creek Orchards

Open Tuesday through Saturday in the picking season, this farm has no fee beyond what you pick and take with you. Located in Medina, just outside of San Antonio, this orchard offers a variety of fruits in season. Enjoy blackberries in May and June and peaches in June and July. Late in the year, enjoy apples, figs, and persimmons. You can pack a lunch to bring along or enjoy their on-site restaurant, voted one of the best small town restaurants by Texas Monthly. Check them out here: lovecreekorchards.com As you begin to enjoy longer evenings and warmer temperatures, don’t miss the opportunity to pick your own sweet, sun-ripened peaches. While you are at it, whip up some fresh peach ice cream to enjoy on the porch-right after a thirst-quenching glass of peach tea. Happy pickin’, y’all! TexasHillCountry.com / 57

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Unearthing O Hill Country Archaeological Association Digs Deeper

Story and photos by Robert C. Deming “Mano! Possible mano!” The crew of avocational archaeologists not in the pit line its edges, peering down at a rock. Marvin uses a brush to sweep dirt from around a rock emerging from the bottom of the pit. To the untrained observer, this looks like any other rock found near a Hill Country river—rounded, smooth, and it would fit comfortably in a person’s hand. The rock and its location are described on a chalkboard, which is placed beside the rock along with an arrow pointing north. When the rock is finally removed from the dirt it is embedded in, the identification is confirmed: this is a “mano” shaped to grind nuts and seeds on a metate, and last touched by a human hand 5,000 years before present. The people who used it were semi-nomadic, and when the people using this mano left the area, they left the rock behind.

respects, but from a time far beyond history. Another avocational archaeologist, John, continues scraping the floor of the pit with a trowel. “The flakes tell us a lot about what was happening here.” He picks up a just unearthed flake of chert (also known as flint) and puts it into a tin beside him. “This was a campsite where they were finishing out stone tools.” Beside him is Kay, a diminutive woman in her 80’s and a founding member of this organization. She good-naturedly gives Marvin grief about his find as she tells me she has been practicing archeology most of her life. Susan is helping to tag each item found at a folding table beside the pit. “We found a chopper last week! We have a wonderful, congenial group of people here.” Susan got into archeology through the Texas Master Naturalist program. Mary and John sift the dirt through a screen and recover the small cultural pieces left behind.

Marvin reverently turns the smooth stone over in his hand, feeling the connection to a human being who The pit is a perfect square, two meters on each side, lived here in archaic times, long before the Comanche oriented north/south, and the excavation has reached or the Spanish, people who were just like us in most a depth of 55 centimeters. Nearby, Francoise carefully

g Our Past

tags and records each item found with the location in Steve picks up a piece of this fire cracked rock the pit including its depth from the surface. It is very nearby. “You can sometimes smell a faint sulfur odor clear to even an untrained observer that meticulous in a freshly broken piece of this fire cracked rock.” He recordkeeping is paramount. says the cooked prickly pear pads had a slimy texture, like cooked okra, and the sotol tasted like molasses. In Steve Stoutamire, an Archeology Steward for the another pit, he points out a layer of rock which is left Texas Historical Commission, shows me a layer of over from periodic flooding thousands of years before. sharp edged limestone rocks in a corner of the pit “We can’t expect to find any culture below about a which have been left in place for the moment. “These meter here, because the flooding events would have are fire cracked rocks. This was where they cooked made this spot uninhabitable. It’s like looking for a sotol, yucca, prickly pears, prickly pear pads, and needle in a haystack.” other plants. They have to be cooked for 24 to 48 hours to render the carbohydrates into simple sugars Each week this group of volunteers scrapes their and cook out the toxins.” This was done by digging way down 10 centimeters, putting all the dirt through an earthen pit putting a fire in it, then placing tabular a screen, and recovering hundreds or thousands of pieces of limestone on top of the coals to absorb the flakes. And, the week before, three beautiful stone heat. Native plants were then placed on the heated points were unearthed in this pit. Back at the lab, the limestone, and then covered with earth. After each crew cleans each piece found and creates a record use, some of the rocks cracked into pieces and were using a code system. They use experience and a thrown into a nearby pile. reference manual to definitively identify each artifact, and the points are carefully protected. The people in

this group will not share the location of their project, as looting of artifacts is a big problem in the area. Steve tells me that looters will go onto private property, without permission, and dig holes into the sites, then put the dirt through a screen. They only pull out the valuable artifacts, such as points, for quick sale on the internet. “When they are done, the scientific and historical value of the site is destroyed. They have robbed us of a piece of history.� When I first spoke to Steve about visiting the site to write this story, I was beginning to think I would have to be taken there blindfolded, and I am only given directions when I promise not to reveal the location in the story or in photographs. Hill Country Archeological Association (www.HCArcheology.org) will be running training classes in the spring for those interested in joining this fun-loving group in the pit. Steve Stoutamire contributed to this article and can be reached at stoutamire@hotmail.com. 66 / Heart of Texas Magazine Summer 2018

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We Are Texas Hill Country  

June 2018

We Are Texas Hill Country  

June 2018