We’re Serious about our Wine
Rodeo Uncorked helps Houstonians appreciate great wine
A cart of unlabeled wine is wheeled into the room. Participants taste and sip; swirl and rate. The criteria: How does it hold up against other wines in the sampling? Should it be top seller? How does it taste? Everyone offers a score. The scores are tallied and turned into the committee. Blind judging events just like this one go on for two full days during the Rodeo Uncorked International Wine Competition.
Rodeo Uncorked is a nine-year-old series of events promoting the love of wine. Besides offering wine lovers an excuse to gather, the events spotlight great wines and bring new audiences to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. And, of course, raise money for charity.
Setting up the season is no easy task. There are hundreds of volunteers and numerous committees driving Rodeo Uncorked’s success. The Winery Relations and Publicity committee gather wine entries. The wine sales committee sells event tickets, sampler cases of winning wines and tickets to educational seminars. The events committee hosts multiple soirees throughout the year.
All of the hard work has paid off; the wine industry has taken notice. Since inception in 2004, the competition has grown to nearly1,800 wines from 583 wineries around the world. Paul Bonarrigo of Messina Hof Winery and Resort in College Station has taken home many awards. “The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Wine Competition is important because it is a world class stage presenting our wines to a world class audience,” he says.
The Rodeo Uncorked! Roundup and Best Bites Competition kicks off the rodeo with one fun-filled evening of great tasting food and award winning wine. Here, winning wineries are celebrated as they receive custom-made saddles, chaps and buckles. Standing room-only crowds enjoy signature dishes from restaurants and sip award-winning wines.
2012 Best Bites Winners
Best Bites Popular Choice Awards
1st – Royer’s Round Top Café
2nd – Hasta La Pasta Italian Grill
Trailblazing Appetizer/Entrée Award
1st – Valentino Vin Bar – Slow Smoked Flank Steak with Fregola and Smoky Tomato Demiglace
2nd – Straits Asian Bistro and Lounge – Braised Singaporean Spice Short Rib Rendang
3rd – Beaucoup Bar & Grill – BBY Shrimp and Grits
Two-Stepping Bread/Cheese /Dessert Award
1st – Veldhuizen Cheese – Raw Milk Artisan Cheese
2nd – Ooh La La Dessert Boutique – Blackberry Pie Bars
Rodeo Uncorked! Champion Wine Auction and Dinner is an auction to be reckoned with. Heavy hitters enjoy an evening including cocktails, dinner, and silent and live wine auctions. Each year, the auction raises more money than the previous. Last year’s Grand Champion Best of Show was Alexander Valley Vineyards CYRUS, Alexander Valley, 2006. It was sold for a record price of $210,000 to The DeMontrond Automotive Group; John Eddie and Sheridan Williams; Raye G. White; and Robert and Michelle Marsh.
Rodeo attendees can enjoy the Champion Wine Garden located in Carruth Plaza in the northwest corner of Reliant Astrodome. By the glass or by the bottle, the garden is a great place to enjoy some of the best wines from across the world. “We feature 55+ winning wines at all price points and all varietals,” says Stephanie Baird, Rodeo Uncorked chairman. “This year we’ll have live music every single day.” Meet friends before a concert and raise your glass in support of the wine committee. “It takes all of these hardworking dedicated volunteers to pull this off,” she says of her thousand people strong committee. It’s not everyday you can drink in the name of scholarships.
International Wine Competition
Nearly 1,800 wines will be competing in this year’s International Wine Competition. Each category has two winners, a grand champion and a reserve champion. “In addition, there is a competition within the competition where a Texas wine is also named grand champion and reserve champion” says Baird.