Hub City: Lubbock, Texas, delights with unexpected charm
The unexpected charm of Lubbock, Texas, delights writer Kristin Caliendo.
In the back of a charming wine and gift shop in Lubbock, Texas, Jimmy and Christi Henderson are opening a bottle of 2015 Trilogy Cellars Reserve Merlot at The Wine Nest, a premier boutique wine and gift shop in the heart of what’s frequently referred to as Hub City. Perhaps West Texas is not considered by most as wine country, but with the opening of the Wine Nest, the Hendersons are sharing their love of wine and have uncorked one of Texas’ best-kept secrets.
The wineries and vineyards that started popping up on the south plains of Texas are changing minds in the industry. “It’s booming because people have been hearing so much about it,” says Chance Hill of Trilogy Cellars, which opened in October in downtown Levelland.
The Texas High Plains covers roughly eight million acres in West Texas and the higher elevation provides an environment of long, hot, dry summer days, allowing the grapes to mature and ripen to proper sugar levels, while cool evenings help set the grape’s acid levels.
Henderson explains, “Napa has their eye on us,” as he pours a tasting from Trilogy Cellars. Another winery in the spotlight is Pheasant Ridge, one of the oldest wineries in Texas with the planting of 15 acres of French vinifera wine grapes in 1978.
People started to take notice of Bobby and Jennifer Cox’s winery when their 1983 cabernet sauvignon received a gold medal in the San Francisco Fair International Wine Competition. It was the first gold medal to be awarded to a Texas red wine in a national competition. Trilogy also gained recognition with Best of Class/Double Gold in the malbec wine category with their Trilogy Cellars 2015 Reserve at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition earlier this year. What makes Texas wines so different? “Climate, soil, the way we irrigate…it’s a really great place to grow grapes,” explains Bobby Cox.
Beyond the ever-present hospitality, Lubbock has no shortage of dining destinations from brunch to lunch, to dinner to indulging in “just like mama used to make” pies. Lubbock has almost 1,000 restaurants sure to satisfy. Local favorites such as Evie Mae’s pit barbeque has some of the beefiest brisket in town or if you’re looking for some fine dining, dust the dirt off your boots because newcomer chef Cameron and the culinary virtuosos at West Table Kitchen and Bar make quite the impression dishing up an evolving seasonal menu served in an upscale space rivaling those found in epicurean hotspots like San Francisco.
If you manage to take in a few unexpected calories, a game of horseshoes at the family-owned Cagle Steakhouse will burn it off, but only after you sink your teeth into the most mouth watering ribeye steak west of the Mississippi. And whoever said you shouldn’t eat pie for breakfast certainly lacks imagination and has never been tempted by southern buttermilk chess pie at Cast Iron Grill. One thing is certain; you’ll never leave the Hub City hungry.
While ranching lives on in West Texas, the best way to appreciate the history of ranching is to stop off at the National Ranching Heritage Center where you can see authentic, restored ranching structures dating from 1780 to 1950. Complete your evening with a spectacular Texas-sized sunset along the scenic trail at the Lubbock Lake National Historic Landmark where you can walk through this active archaeological dig and discover history dating back 12,000 years in time. With nearly 263 days of sunshine in Lubbock, nothing is more remarkable than pairing a sunset followed by a night hike.
Lubbock is also part art, part culture, and part entertainment. Visitors can take a quick trip back to the ’50s while paying tribute to one of the forefathers of rock ’n roll during a visit to the Buddy Holly Center, the icon’s gravesite, and the Allison House to see first hand where Jerry Ivan “J.I.” Allison and Buddy Holly wrote many of their favorite hits including, That’ll be the Day.
An afternoon would be well spent at the Charles Adams Gallery and its Studio Project, LHUCA, the Tornado Gallery, and mingling, exploring galleries and rocking out to live music on the First Friday Art Trail in Lubbock’s Cultural District. For the kids, a few must sees are Prairie Dog Town, 4ORE! Golf, and the Bayer Museum of Agriculture.
Just steps from the Texas Tech University, the Overton Hotel is the first and only AAA Four Diamond hotel in Lubbock that is both sophisticated and unpretentious. You know you’re in the Lone Star State when you step foot into the 15-story landmark hotel and are surrounded by stately western décor and just enough Texas twist in the Pecan Grill, which offers Texas-centric wines that pair magically with their signature smoked gouda macaroni and cheese dish.
Another lodging option includes the Arbor Hotel & Conference Center. A true jewel to West Texas, it’s locally owned and operated and just minutes from the 4ORE state-of-the-art golf entertainment complex where visitors of all ages can play golf year round in their 60 climate-controlled tee boxes while nibbling on some Texas sushi.
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