Wolverines in Texas – Vacation Recap

Over Labor Day weekend, John and I traveled to the great state of Texas to see our Michigan Wolverines take on the Florida Gators in the Advocare Classic. A number of friends came along to cheer on Michigan and we had such a blast so I thought I would share some of the fun highlights.

Our first stop on Friday was a trip to Delaney Vineyards in Grapevine, Texas.

I was surprised to find a winery in Texas because it is so hot, but apparently they have a few regions that mimic the California coast and actually produce some fantastic grapes. They had a nice facility and have been around for more than 20 years. They have a few of the vines onsite and you can walk through them and taste some grapes right off the vine. My friend Chandra (who recently joined us for a guest post) was also on the trip:

After our tasting we were able to purchase bottles and sit outside which was a fun afternoon activity. Safe to say we thoroughly tried a nice selection…

Saturday was game day and we decided to purchase tickets to the official alumni tailgate which turned out to be a great idea mostly because of the air conditioning. It also included food and drink and they had a fun lineup of former players and music to keep it exciting.

The game was so exciting and we won making the whole experience even better. AT&T Stadium is huge!

On Sunday we visited the historic Fort Worth Stockyards.

We did some shopping and were right on time to see the cattle drive.

Of course I found a winery for us to stop in at. Cowtown Winery was the perfect refresher on a HOT day.

We stopped by Cooper’s Old-Time BBQ for all the meats before we hit the rodeo. Make sure to bring your appetite. The Stockyards Rodeo was the main attraction. There were barrel races and all kinds of tricks. At the end they had bull riders and one of them almost got trampled! We thought he broke his ankle, but his boot had just come off. It was intense!

I really needed to invest in a cowboy hat to protect me from that Texas sun. I am not built for that kind of heat! We had a fantastic time in Texas and I wish we could have spent more time exploring. Who knows maybe Michigan will play there again soon.

What are your favorite spots in the Dallas/Fort Worth area?

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Summer Vacation – Kentucky Part 3

The fourth installment in my summer vacation recap is about our stops at Maker’s Mark, Four Roses and Buffalo Trace distilleries. You can read about the first stop in Cleveland, our first day in Kentucky, and our second day at Jim Beam via the links.

makers mark 5

Our first stop at Maker’s Mark was a hike. It was about an hour drive to get there from our hotel, but we started with that one so we could work our way back through the other distilleries. Maker’s Mark was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1980, so as you tour the grounds you get a peek back in time.

Makers Mark Collage

Most of the distilleries were shutdown for summer so we got a unique look at the cypress fermentation tanks. Some of them have planks that are more than 200 years old.

Makers Mark Collage2

Some of you may know that Maker’s Mark has a distinctive red wax seals on all of its bottles. This was trademarked in 2012 and no other liquor company can use the red wax seal on their bottles. We had the chance to tour the bottling area and see where the bottles are dipped.

makers mark 6

Makers Mark Collage3

As we were checking out the barrels we learned that they put special wood slats into the Maker’s 46 barrels to give it that extra oakey flavor.

makers mark 9

We got to sample all of the different Maker’s Mark varieties in their special tasting room. I especially liked the Maker’s 46:

makers tasting

John and I had a lot of fun in the gift shop where we got to dip our own Maker’s bottles and take them home. They are so cool that I never want to open them!

Makers Collage 4

After Maker’s Mark, we headed over to Four Roses Distillery. We didn’t make it in time for the tour, but they had a patio tasting going on so we signed up for that. I loved the name of Four Roses, which was named after a romance, you can read the full story here.

four roses

We had a little break after this stop and headed over to Wallace Station for a delicious lunch. It was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on the Food Network. It was the perfect place to stop and right in between our distillery visits.

wallace station

We had a little bit of time to kill as we had signed up for a ghost tour at Buffalo Trace Distillery. When we arrived the distillery was seemingly deserted, setting the stage for the tour.

buffalo trace 1

Buffalo Trace is a National Historic Landmark dating back to 1792 when “The Old Taylor House” was built on the property and still stands today.

buffalo trace2

Buffalo Trace was featured on the TV show Ghost Hunters and is said to be haunted by the ghost of Col. Blanton. On our tour we heard lots of stories and got to visit the haunted sites as well as the Stony Point Mansion where Col. Blanton died in 1959.

buffalo trace

We didn’t see any ghosts, but we did have a complimentary tasting of some of the Buffalo Trace products and I have to take a second and rave about the Bourbon Cream! This stuff is amazing…it puts Bailey’s to shame…but you can only get it at the distillery…so I bought two!

buffalo trace4

Have you been to the Bourbon Trail? What were your favorites?

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Summer Vacation 2015 – Kentucky Part 2

The third installment in my summer vacation recap is all about Jim Beam. You can read about the first stop in Cleveland and our first day in Kentucky via the links. On our second day in Kentucky we visited the Jim Beam Distillery and boy was John excited.

Jim Beam

We arrived just in time for the tour and the first thing I learned is all bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon. The U.S. government has a set of regulations that determines exactly what can be called bourbon.

Jim Beam 2

John preparing for our tour!

One fun fact is that bourbon can only be made in the United States. In 1964 Congress declared that bourbon had to be distilled and aged in the United States and it can’t be called Kentucky Straight Bourbon unless it has been distilled and aged in Kentucky for at least two years.

Jim Beam 4

Another bourbon regulation is that all bourbon must be aged in brand new charred oak barrels. Distilleries can’t recycle the barrels so they are purchased by all sorts of companies to use for scotch, sometimes wine and furniture among other things.

Jim Beam 5

Each bourbon maker has it’s own mash recipe, but to be a bourbon the recipe must consist of 51% corn.

Jim Beam 6

The color in bourbon comes from the barrels. The only thing that can be added to bourbon is water, if anything else like coloring or flavor is added you can’t call it bourbon.

Jim Beam 7

Now for the fun part, John and I got to clean and imprint our own bottles of Jim Beam Knob Creek! Below is the machine they used to clean, dispense bourbon and label the bottles. When they clean the bottles they have to use the same bourbon that they ultimately fill the bottles with so they don’t alter the flavor in any way.

Jim Beam 8

After they dipped the bottles in wax we each got to put our thumbprints on the top and then they would be down in the gift shop for purchase. I had some fun pictures of this process that got deleted (boo), but here is the bottle right before we put the wax on it:

knob creek

They had quite the collection of special and commemorative bottles on display. One of which was the I Dream of Jeannie decanter. We learned that the bottle on the show was actually designed after this bottle.

I Dream of Jeannie

The tour ended in the tasting room and we each got to pick three things to try.

Jim Beam 9

We had a blast on our tour and I even got a fabulous Jim Beam candle to take home. It was definitely my first stop into becoming a bourbon aficionado.

Jim Beam 10

What Jim Beam variations are your favorites?

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Summer Vacation 2015 – Kentucky Part 1

As you saw in my first vacation recap post, on our way out of Cleveland, John and I got a late start and stopped for a fun lunch. But we were so excited to get on the road and get the heck out of dodge.

road trip

We had to make a pit stop for gas and I couldn’t believe where we randomly stopped…it’s like they knew I was coming!

Duchess

We finally made it to Kentucky and had to take the obligatory welcome shot:

Kentucky

We didn’t get to our final destination until a little later on so I didn’t have to much to report for the first day. On day three we decided to go to lunch at Mark’s Feed Store.

Marks Feed Store 4

We were a little to late to do any bourbon tastings (most of the places closed at 3 p.m.) so we found a winery instead! We stumbled upon Broad Run Vineyards which was sort of in the middle of nowhere. We were the only people there and spent a few hours getting a one-on-one tutorial with the owner. I think we both learned a lot and I really appreciated the passion the owner had about wine.

broad run Collage

Our hotel, the Embassy Suites in Louisville had a complimentary happy hour every day that we made it back in time for. I tried a Bluegrass Sunrise!

Bluegrass Sunrise

We made dinner reservations at Proof on Main which had a cool, artsy ambiance. The food was great and John was able to get a bourbon flight to kick things off. For dessert they even brought cotton candy to the table for us!

proof on main

We had a great time during our first few days in Kentucky and were pumped to finally start hitting the bourbon trail.

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