Cowboys, grapes and Southern charm
The North Texas town of Grapevine possesses an inherent charm that’s as difficult to resist as a Stetson hat is to a Cowboy.
Clusters of cold, full-bodied, firm grapes lie underfoot. Standing inside an upturned wine barrel, I’m waiting for the countdown to begin pulverising eight kilograms of fruit with my bare feet. As a novice participant in the GrapeStomp competition, I’m about to stomp into one of the many festivities at the 32nd Annual GrapeFest. The family-friendly festival is held over four days every September in the Historic Main Street of Downtown Grapevine. A perfectly named place to hold the largest wine festival in America’s Southwest.
Located midway between the north Texas cities of Dallas and Fort Worth, Grapevine is a city many have flown into, possibly without realising. The city’s boundaries lie within the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) — something I appreciated when I made my way from DFW to Grapevine’s Main Street. Within ten minutes I was transported from the confines of a busy airport terminal to strolling along a quiet footpath. The stress-free quick journey felt
For the history lover
Prior to 1844, the Grape Vine Prairie in North Texas had been a meeting place for Native Americans passing through the region. Texas President Sam Houston (1793–1863) opened the area to settlers when met with the leaders of 10 Native American Nations in 1843 at Grape Vine Springs and signed a ‘Peace Treaty.’ The first settlement was named Grape Vine for the wild mustang grapes growing in the area and its proximity to the Prairie. The agriculture based-community expanded when the Cotton Belt Rail Line built in 1888, added a Depot in the town. The name altered to Grapevine in 1914. Fast forward to 2018, the original town consisting of a Post Office, Church and School, has grown to a metropolis of nearly 54,000 residents.
After picking off the squashed grape remnants from my feet following GrapeStomp (achieving a satisfying third) I explore Main Street. Stretching for almost two kilometres, the street has an eclectic collection of shops, wineries, eateries and numerous historical landmarks. Feeling hungry, I head into Tolbert’s Restaurant and Chili Parlour. I’m keen to try some of their famous Southwestern
With the Historical Society’s help, Debi rescued one of the first homes built in the area in 1845, the Torian log cabin from being demolished by developers. “We took the cabin apart, log by log, relocating it and re-building it to where it now stands on Main Street,” says Debi. The cabin is where
Across the road from Tolbert’s stands another preserved piece of heritage, the Grapevine Calaboose. The small concrete building was built in 1909 as a one-room jail to hold the town’s petty criminals. The town has experienced a few encounters with lawbreakers. The most infamous occurred on 30
Long serving Mayor
William D Tate first served as Mayor of Grapevine in 1973, the year before the DFW Airport opened. As Mayor for 42 years, his longevity in office has been instrumental in Grapevine’s growth in the ‘Metroplex.’ The term (combining metropolis and complex) was created to promote the sprawling Dallas-Fort Worth
The Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District is where you’ll find a slice of Texan heritage dedicated to the cowboy. Grapevine’s Vintage Train departs from the original 1888 Cotton Belt Railroad Depot on Main Street, travelling most weekends to the Stockyards. The hour and a half train trip will take more time than driving down State Highway 121, but you’ll travel in one of the preserved vintage rail cars and possibly be held to ransom by a rogue cowboy.
The 98-acre area north of Fort Worth’s CBD was the centre for buying and selling of livestock. Today the livestock (and the animal smells) have departed but the legacy of the cowboy lingers. You can comfortably don your Stetson cowboy hat, shiny belt buckle and Texan boots and not feel out of place. Most people intown are either wearing or buying cowboy gear. For a pair of special handmade Texan boots, head to M.L. Leddy’s boot making company on North Main Street. Across the road is the Stockyards Hotel, built in 1907, where the infamous Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow once stayed.
Outdoors and indoors
Adjacent to the town centre is Grapevine Lake, a water reservoir popular for nature, biking and equestrian trails. Should the outdoor Texan humidity become too uncomfortable an intriguing place to escape is inside the huge glass atrium at the Gaylord Texan Resort, located next to the
Local lore has it the Dallas Cowboys football team use the Gaylord Texan as the pre-game venue when playing a home game in nearby Arlington. A chance sighting of a player is unlikely
More than a place to meet
“The city of Grapevine is openly welcoming,” says Mayor William D Tate. “It’s a place where people meet, although this is not a new ideal, native Americans met here for hundreds of years, hunting, fishing and trading goods.” Today people meet in this part of the metroplex to enjoy themselves. The 32nd Grapefest was my introduction to the Metroplex. Not only did I discover squashing grapes is a tonne of fun, I uncovered a proud community overflowing with Southern charm and hospitality.
Photography by Jennifer Johnston and Grapevine Convention & Visitor Bureau.
Qantas operates direct non-stop flights from Sydney to Dallas Fort Worth International Airport. qantas.com.au
WHEN TO GO
Mild comfortable weather: March–May and September–November
Texas Winter: December–February may require a warm jacket
WHERE TO STAY
Gaylord Texan Resort: marriott.com
Hilton DFW Grapevine: www3.hilton.com
Stockyards Hotel Fort Worth: stockyardshotel.com
THINGS TO DO:
Grapevine Vintage Railroad: grapevinetexasusa.com/grapevine-vintage-railroad
Fort Worth Historic Stockyards: fortworthstockyards.org