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Texas Wine Country: The Long and Winding Trail from Grape to Wine

The wine tasting room at the Duchman Family Winery in Hays County, southeast of Driftwood. Photo courtesy of the winery.

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Towns

Bremond

Bremond is at the junction of State Highway 14 and Farm roads 46, 2413, 2954, and 2293, ten miles east of the Brazos River in northwestern Robertson County.

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Birding in Texas

The World Birding Center comprises nine birding education centers and observation sites in the Lower Rio Grande Valley designed to protect wildlife habitat and offer visitors a view of more than 500 species of birds.

The center has partnered with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and nine communities to turn 10,000 acres back into natural areas for birds, butterflies and other wildlife. This area in Cameron, Hidalgo and Starr counties is a natural migratory path for millions of birds that move between the Americas.

The nine WBC sites are situated along the border with Mexico:

Bentsen – Rio Grande Valley State Park
This is the World Birding Center Headquarters and comprises the 760-acre Bentsen-RGV State Park and 1,700 acres of adjoining federal refuge land near Mission. The site offers: daily tram service; 4 nature trails ranging in length from 1/4 mile to 2 miles; 2-story high Hawk Observation Tower with a 210-foot-long handicapped access ramp; 2 observation decks; 2 accessible bird blinds; primitive camping sites (by reservation); rest areas; picnic sites with tables; exhibit hall; park store; coffee bar; meeting room (available for rental); catering kitchen; bike rentals (1 and 2 seat bikes). Access within the park is by foot, bike and tram only; (956) 585-1107. Hours: 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week.

Edinburg Scenic Wetlands
This 40-acre wetlands in Edinburg is an oasis for water-loving birds, butterflies and other wildlife. The site is currently offering:walking trails, nature tours and classes; (956) 381-9922. Hours: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday through Wednesday; 8 a.m.–6 p.m., Thursday through Saturday. Closed Sunday.

Estero Llano Grande State Park
This 176-acre refuge in Weslaco attracts a wide array of South Texas wildlife with its varied landscape of shallow lake, woodlands and thorn forest; 956-565-3919. Hours: 8 a.m.–5 p.m., Monday through Friday; 8 a.m.–7:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday through August.

Harlingen Arroyo Colorado
This site in Harlingen is connected by an arroyo waterway, as well as hike-and-bike trails meandering through the city, Hugh Ramsey Nature Park to the east and the Harlingen Thicket to the west; (956) 427-8873. Hours: Office, 8 a.m.–5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Nature trails are open seven days a week, sunrise to sunset.

Old Hidalgo Pumphouse
Visitors to this museum in Hidalgo on the Rio Grande can learn about the steam-driven irrigation pumps that transformed Hidalgo County into a year-round farming area. The museum’s grounds feature hummingbird gardens, walking trails and historic tours; (956) 843-8686. Hours: 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Monday through Friday; 1 p.m.–5 p.m., Sunday. Closed Saturday.

Quinta Mazatlan
This 1930s country estate in McAllen is a historic Spanish Revival adobe hacienda surrounded by lush tropical landscaping and native woodland. It is also an urban oasis, where quiet trails wind through more than 15 acres of birding habitat; (956) 688-3370. Hours: 8 a.m.–5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Open until sunset on Thursdays. Closed Mondays and holidays.

Post Secondary Education

The first permanent institutions of higher education established in Texas were church-supported schools, although there were some earlier efforts:

Rutersville University was established in 1840 by Methodist minister Martin Ruter in Fayette County and was the predecessor of Southwestern University in Georgetown, which was established in 1843;

Baylor University, now at Waco, was established in 1845 at Independence, Washington County, by the Texas Union Baptist Association; and

Austin College, now at Sherman, was founded in 1849 at Huntsville by the Brazos Presbytery of the Old School Presbyterian Church.

Local Option Alcohol

Although the laws regulating the alcoholic beverage industry are consistent statewide, the Alcoholic Beverage Code allows for local-option elections to determine the types of alcoholic beverages that may be sold and how they can be sold.

Elections can be held by counties, cities, or individual justice of the peace precincts. In the time since our last edition went to press, four counties have moved from Part Wet to Wet: Crane, Kerr, Mason, and Wilson.

As of August 2021, there were 59 completely wet counties in Texas and 5 completely dry counties.

Over time, Texas has been getting “wetter.” In 2003, there were 35 completely wet counties and 51 completely dry. In 1995, there were 53 dry counties, and in 1986, there were 62 dry counties. The list below reflects the wet, part wet, and dry coding on the map.

Obituaries

In every Texas Almanac, we include short obituaries for people who had passed away in the previous two years that had made an impact in the state. We never have enough room to include everyone that deserves to be in these pages, but we do our best. Here are all of the obituaries we have published so far.

A&M Twelve; Texas A&M students who died in collapse of campus bonfire; M. Adams, C. Breen, M. Ebanks, J. Frampton, J. Hand, C. Heard, T. Kerlee, L. Kimmel, B. McClain, C. Powell, J. Self and N. West; Nov. 18, 1999.

Abbott, “Dimebag” Darrell, 38; one of heavy-metal's top guitarists, gained fame in 1990s with group Pantera; Dalworthington Gardens resident was shot to death, along with four others, Dec. 8, 2004, while performing in Columbus, Ohio.

Abraham, Elias, 90; businessman who was the last of the 12 brothers and sisters who emigrated from Syria to start the Abraham dynasty in El Paso; July 17, 2004.

Acers, Ebby Halliday, 104; the first lady of Metroplex real estate, her 70-year-old company began with just her alone but grew to 1,700 sales associates and became the tenth largest real estate firm in the nation; born Vera Lucille Koch in Leslie, Ark., she adopted Ebby Halliday as her professional name in the 1930s when she was in retail sales; moved to Dallas in 1938; married for 27 years to ex-FBI agent and businessman Maurice Acers, who died in 1993; in Dallas, Sept. 8, 2015.

Adair, Paul N. “Red”, 89; oilfield firefighter for 50 years; immortalized by John Wayne in the movie, The Hellfighters, based on his life; in Houston, Aug. 7, 2004.

Adamcik, Charlie F., 81; longtime leader of Czech community in Dallas; state director of the Czech Catholic Union of Texas for more than 20 years and honorary state director until his death; in Dallas, Oct. 8, 1996.

Adams, Bud, 90; oilman who was one of the founders of the American Football League in 1960 and owner of the Houston Oilers, he moved the franchise to Tennessee in 1997; in Houston, Oct. 21, 2013.

Adams, John G., 91; served as general counsel for the Army in the 1950s when he was nemesis to Sen. Joe McCarthy during televised hearings; in Dallas, June 26, 2003.

Adams, Randall Dale, 61; former death row inmate, one of the first from Dallas to be exonerated, released from prison in 1989 following an outcry brought on by the documentary The Thin Blue Line; in Ohio, Oct. 30, 2010.

Adkisson, Doris, 82; matriarch of Dallas’ Von Erich wrestling family; Doris Juanita Smith married in 1950 her Dallas Crozier Tech high school sweetheart Jack, who became wrestling’s Fritz Von Erich, who died in 1997; tragically, five of their sons preceded her in death; in Hawaii, Oct. 23, 2015.

Adkisson, Jack (Fritz Von Erich), 68; patriarch of wrestling’s famous and tragic Von Erich family; in Lake Dallas, Sept. 10, 1997.