Texas Hill Country's Becker Vineyards Inspires Change

by Rosie Carbo /
Rosie Carbo's picture
May 22, 2013 / 0 comments

I was recently invited to a special event that may lead to a whole new lifestyle.  I’m talking about the annual Culinaria Luncheon at Becker Vineyards.  Since I write about food and wine events in Texas, I had been yearning to visit the award-winning winery. 


I had heard about the winery and beauty of the Texas Hill Country during many years of living in a North Dallas suburb.  But vacations south invariably led to the beaches of Galveston, South Padre, and beyond.


However, since relocating to San Antonio last year, I was determined to finally journey to the Texas version of Napa Valley. The invitation extended to my photo-hobbyist husband. It was an offer he couldn’t refuse, so he offered to drive.


As we headed out on Interstate I-10 from San Antonio toward the Hill Country, the landscape changed dramatically as we approached the suburb of Boerne.
I thought, “No wonder many city folks are moving out this way.” The breathtaking views reminded me of a European countryside, not the Texas I know and love.


Although slightly more than an hour from the Alamo city, I could see that this is what people mean when they say: “it’s the journey as much as the destination” that will be remembered. The picturesque hills on both sides of I-10 meandered toward rural roads and green valleys that were inspiring.


The calming and serene road trip was a gift, but I was sure that this viticulture and epicurean experience would also be worth the trip. The hills beckoned as the GPS soon alerted us that we were approaching Becker Vineyards.


Becker Vineyards


The prestigious vineyard is between the tiny hamlet of Stonewall and Fredericksburg, founded by German immigrants. Tourists may recognize it as the home of Willie Nelson summer concerts. But many of the area wineries-not yet famous nationally-are part of the Texas Wine Trail.


By contrast, Becker Vineyards is renowned throughout Texas and maybe beyond. One reason it’s become an icon is that its award-winning wines have been toasted in the White House.


Becker Vineyards


Additionally, they’ve been served at the legendary James Beard House. And Becker’s Viognier won the George W. Bush Presidential Library Award for a “Top Texas” wine at the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo Wine Competition.


Dr. Richard and Mrs. Bunny Becker are the vineyard owners. The couple hosts many chic events at their 46-acre wine estate.  A San Antonio endocrinologist, Dr. Becker is a practicing physician who has emerged as a first-class winemaker.  Moreover, Becker Vineyards now produces more than 100,000 cases of wine annually.


Dr. & Mrs.Becker, Becker Vineyards


Since teaming with Culinaria, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting San Antonio’s award-winning chefs and restaurants through special events, the Beckers have hosted the special luncheon for more than a decade.


This year, the event began with a reception in the winery barn. The more than 10,000-square-foot facility is a reproduction of a German barn made of stone. More than 10-foot ceilings and a huge wine tasting bar make the winery feel rustic while elegant as the same time.


Becker Vineyards


Becker Vineyards


The Beckers, ever the gracious and attentive hosts, agree with the idea of showcasing Texas viticulture. So the pre-luncheon reception featured Texas wines. Sample wines included those from Pedernales Cellars, Flat Creek, McPherson Cellars, and of course, Becker Vineyards.  


From the winery, guests ambled out to the enormous verandah. We could have sat on the inviting wooden benches to sip our wine and enjoy the scent of lavender floating from three acres of lavender fields. But anticipation of the chef-prepared noontime lunch awaiting us beckoned.


Becker Vineyards


Half past noon, we joined other attendees at an adjacent limestone and wood building nearby. A massive stone fireplace and wood-grained beamed ceilings greeted us. The tables were draped in white table linens and crystal wineglasses, setting the stage for an unforgettable dining experience. 


The three-course luncheon highlighted the edible artistry of four San Antonio area chefs.  Their unique and locally-sourced creations were paired with a variety of wines from Becker and the visiting wineries.


Chef Dave Rapozo of the reputable Magnolia Pancake Haus presented the first course with a Feuillete de Ris de Veau.  The sweetbread tart was moist and palate-pleasing. On the plate, it looked like a delicate flower, so I hesitated to try it at first.


Feuillete de Ris de Veau

Feuillete de Ris de Veau


The first course was paired with three choices of white wines: McPherson Wine Cellars 2012 Albariño, Lincourt Courtney’s Chardonnay Santa Rita Hills 2009, and Flat Creek’s Viognier 2012. The Albariño grown in Texas is not like its Northern Spain counterpart. But it was clear, crisp and refreshing.


The second course was Bandera Quail with Raisins, Pine Nuts Relish, Pomegranate Syrup, and Bluebonnet Arugula Salad. Chef Jesse Perez of Arcade Midtown Kitchen created a mouthwatering dish that enticed me-a novice at quail consumption-into tasting. Now, I’ll never pass this particular bird up again.


Bandera Quail with Raisins, Pine Nuts Relish, Pomegranate Syrup, and Bluebonnet Arugula Salad.

Bandera Quail with Raisins, Pine Nuts Relish, Pomegranate Syrup, and Bluebonnet Arugula Salad


Pairing the quail dish with reds was perfect. The choice included Pedernales Cellars High Plains Tempranillo 2010 and Belle Glos Pinot Noir Las Alturas Vineyard 2011. Having had many Spanish wines over the years, I can say these reds were surprisingly equal in taste and structure to their European counterparts.


Braised Colorado Lamb, Rye Berries, Carrot Veloute with Pickled Mustard and Peas was the scrumptious third course. Chef John Brand of La Mansion del Rio’s Las Canarias Restaurant and Mokara Hotel & Spa’s Ostra restaurant presented a stunning dish.


Braised Colorado Lamb, Rye Berries, Carrot Veloute with Pickled Mustard and Peas

Braised Colorado Lamb, Rye Berries, Carrot Veloute with Pickled Mustard and Peas



Becker Vineyards Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Canada Family 2010 and Ramian Estate Crisis Management Red Blend 2010 were the red wine choices. The palate was in heaven as I sipped from each choice and devoured the luscious lamb.


The ending to a glorious feast was a spectacular dessert. Melissa Beverage, the pastry chef at Drew’s American Grill, presented Spiced Chocolate Silk Pie Cocoa Crust with Dried Chilies Whipped Cream atop Cherry Chili Coulis. I indulged in the decadent dessert paired with Becker Vineyards Vintage Port 2010.


Spiced Chocolate Silk Pie Cocoa Crust with Dried Chilies Whipped Cream atop Cherry Chili Coulis

Spiced Chocolate Silk Pie Cocoa Crust with Dried Chilies Whipped Cream atop Cherry Chili Coulis


In retrospect, both the journey and the destination were a life-altering experience. Before this trip to the Texas Hill Country, I had not considered leaving “big city” life. Now that I’ve seen the rural beauty of the bucolic Texas countryside, I’ll consider moving there. I may even turn my backyard into a vineyard.


But whether I relocate there or not, I will definitely return to the Texas Hill Country. After all, I have not yet explored the Texas Wine Trail, a popular weekend getaway. More importantly, the TWT is a must for a wine lover like me.


More information on Becker Vineyards: info [at] beckerwines.com or www.beckervineyards.com   

For information on Culinaria’s year-round food and wine events, go to: www.culinariasa.org.



Rosie Carbo is the Lifestyles Editor for Wandering Educators, and is a former newspaper reporter whose work has appeared in newspapers and magazines nationwide. Some of those publications include People magazine, The Dallas Morning News, The Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News. Some of her features were redistributed by The Associated Press early in her career as an award-winning Texas journalist.   


Photo credit of Dr. Richard and Mrs. Bunny Becker, owners of Becker Vineyards, courtesy of Bill Peary.

All photos courtesy and copyright Victor Carbo, except where noted.