Dr Ted Murphy from Cork, author of the Gourmand award winning book, A kingdom of Wine coined the phrase, Winegeese. After the treaty of Limerick in 1691, thousands fled in exile from Limerick, Cork, Clare, Kerry and Galway. The treaty fell apart and it was replaced with harsh penal laws. The people who fled were known as the Wild Geese. Whilst many famous figures fought in armies all over the world, many settled and founded some of the most famous wine labels known today. Richard Hennessy, from Cork settled in Cognac, France and Hennessy Cognac was founded in 1765. Other famous labels include, Lynch-Bages, DuMol, Limerick Lane, Chateau Margaux and Chateau Montelena to name but a few.
The Winegeese society is an organization within the Ireland Funds and has been called the jewel in the crown. It's motto From Wine what Wondrous friendships spring was never more apt than it was on this evening in Dallas, March 4th, the night before the Texas Emerald Ball. For it was on this evening that Mark McWilliams, proprietor of Arista Winery, located in Russian River Valley, California was inducted as an honorary member of this very prestigous society.
Al and Janis McWilliams of Texarkana, Texas founded their small winery estate in 2002, which is located on 36 acres along Westside Road on what is a pretty much hallowed Pinot Noir and Chardonnay land in California's Russian River Valley. The McWilliams are of Scottish and Irish descent. Their Irish McCoppins roots lie in County Longford, Ireland. Their sons Mark and Ben run the winery today.
For the Texas Emerald Ball, still in it's infancy, 2016 being the 4th year, (unlike the Boston and New York galas which have been going for 40 years) I wanted an event that would connect people. It seemed only fitting that as the Irish have been in Texas since as far back as 1767, connecting the Lone Star State with the Emerald Isle would create awareness and forge future ties.
'Come celebrate the many connections between Texas and Ireland and make a few new ones....' appeared on all the printed material for the months leading up to this weekend.
Like any tapestry, many threads are woven intricately with many people working in groups weaving for long periods of time, this Texas Emerald Ball required many threads with many colors and people with different skills to bring this theme to life. This Winegeese evening was just one of those threads, allowing people to connect over the few days in Dallas.
Chef Erin Miller from Texas Bleu Steakhouse, located in Keller, who's ancestors come from Limerick, Ireland, prepared the food for the evening.
We had a chef with Irish ancestry, a Texas born wine proprietor who's ancestry hails from Longford, Irish cheeses from Kerrygold, and a whiskey tasting from Teeling Whiskey Company. This was certainly a recipe for an evening filled with fun and friendship.
We made our way down to the fabulous stone cellar where the ceremony was held. Mark was inducted into the Winegeese Society and was presented with his own Winegeese tie, an autographed copy of A Kingdom of Wine and a silver tasting cup. He was a very entertaining and interesting speaker who commanded a presence in the room. Arista's Chardonnay was an unbelievable hit, with red wine drinkers exclaiming they do not generally drink white wine, but after tasting their 2013 Arista Banfield Vineyard Chardonnay, they were now converts and wanted to be put on the waiting list to purchase. The evening ran well past the scheduled end time but perhaps this was becuase.......From Wine what Wondrous Friendships sprung !
Arista Banfield Vineyard Chardonnay 2013 Green Valley, Russian River Valley, California
Arista Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2014 Russian River Valley, California
Arista Toboni Vineyard Pinot Noir 2014 Russian River Valley, California
ALASKAN SMOKED SALMON MOUSSE WITH ENDIVE
CERTIFIED ANGUS BEEF TENDERLOIN IN RED WINE AU JUS
S L O W R O A S T E D P O R K B E L L Y WI T H I R I S H M A R M A L A D E
KERRYGOLD AGED CHEDDAR AND TIPPERARY CASHEL BLUE CHEESE WITH DRIED & FRESH FRUIT AND NUTS
TEELING SINGLE MALT IRISH WHISKEY
TEELING SINGLE GRAIN IRISH WHISKEY