Back Where We Started: Finding Refuge During Wine & Food Week

Recently, we headed back to the place where it all started, way back in June of 2014, when your humble food and wine blogger put pen to paper (so to speak) to share a few thoughts about the The Refuge Bar & Bistro, the popular Waterway Avenue craft cocktail bar in The Woodlands. Local wine expert Denman Moody hosted a vertical tasting of Jordan wines, and it was held on the first night of Wine & Food Week.

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Well, here we are two years later, and Wine & Food Week has evolved into a tremendous regional festival. What once was a Woodlands area event now consists of tastings and other activities held across the Houston area. Even so, the Monday night tasting of Duckhorn Wines at The Refuge remains one of the best tickets around, selling out well in advance.

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The Refuge is large enough to hold an enthusiastic passel of wine lovers, yet more intimate than some of the massive, elbow-to-elbow gatherings that happen later in the week at other venues. Along with the wine and hospitality, we were treated to a lovely four-course meal.

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Duckhorn wines are as accessible to the wine shopper as they are to the palate. The well-respected label can be found at H-E-B or any grocery store with a decent wine department. Historically, Duckhorn has received wide acclaim for its merlots. Their other labels include Paraduxx (which makes one of my favorite moderately-priced red blends), the lesser-priced yet totally drinkable Decoy wines, and Goldeneye.

My new best friend of the evening was the well-balanced 2012 Goldeneye Anderson Valley Pinot Noir. I know that this is a failing on my part, but, to me, most New World PNs are mediocre cherry bombs. (Tasting notes: melted red popsicles with a lingering Fruity Pebbles finish.) In contrast, the Goldeneye was plush and medium-bodied, full of wild berries with hints of leather and cedar.

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Savoring a warm spoonful of creamy lobster bisque and a sip of the Goldeneye, I remembered what makes this particular event at The Refuge so special. It’s always held during one of the first weeks of June, the summer sweet spot–lanquid, sunny afternoons and temperatures that haven’t reached the sweltering heights of July and August.

Owners Mark Zientek and Luis Padilla (who serves double-duty as sommelier for The Refuge), will soon open another location, this one on Kuykendahl Road in the burgeoning Creekside Park retail area. The new expanded concept, to be known as The Refuge-Grillhouse, will include a nightly dinner menu, Sunday brunch and live music on the weekends. I’m sure I’ll be dropping by to enjoy these new offerings, along with the warm, sophisticated vibe that’s a signature of the Waterway location.

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Well into dinner, there were still soft rays of sunshine slipping in through the wood blinds, giving the white tablecloths  a warm glow and lighting up the bevy of glasses that meticulously lined each table.

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So here’s a toast to one of our first-ever blog posts, and to all the readers, followers and friends who have joined us since then. We’ve come full circle, and we hope to make our way back around again for next year’s tasting at The Refuge during Wine & Food Week. Cin cin!

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Thank you, from Breadnbottle!


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