The Mazda was hot, like it's always hot. Black car in TX June sin A/C, you can't really help that. But once 290 got past Dripping Springs, out toward the turnoff for Pedernales Falls State Park, the Hill Country air was cool enough and the land de-paved enough that the open windows drafted something like A/C. I still sweat.
I didn't know until my tours around Mendoza last year that wine country is best when hot and dry. Everyone in Texas should grow grapes.
"The #2 Wine Destination in America" say the brochures in the dozen or so wineries along 290. A lot of them cluster in Stonewall, better known for its spring peaches. Then there are a handful in Fredericksburg, too.
Becker was nice. It wasn't a hard sell for the sommelier to get me into their "Wine Club"--lots of wine swag and "member privileges" in return for quarterly deliveries. Maybe their Malbec was what did it. A lot different from Mendoza's, better I thought. More earthy.
Torre di Pietra couldn't stack up after that, despite the cool name. Their stock was more "playful," I guess. i.e., weird flavors.
I walked out back after the tasting, through the covered "event space" and up to the cedar fence marking the start of the vines. The case with my Canon A630 over my shoulder. I've been proofing the MatadorU photography course, so pulling out the camera, I thought "f/stop" and "depth of field." I decided to finally start playing with my aperture. One of the major differences I've noticed between DSLR and point-and-shoot image quality is depth of field. Yes, getting a truly shallow DoF with a p&s is kinda impossible, but I dialed down the aperture to its lowest number (3.2 or something), jacked up the shutter speed and some other settings so it wouldn't overexpose too badly, and went for it.
This is the result--notice the blur in the background. Not exactly beautiful, but I got what I was going for.
Later, I found easier-to-shoot subjects at the Lyndon B. Johnson Natl. Historical Park, in a field of wildflowers. Can't go wrong. I played some more with exposure settings and the macro function and came back with the following images.
Flowers appreciate the hot and dry Hill Country as much as the grapes, I guess. I enjoy Texas in the spring, even if it's already pushing 95. Back at home, the crape myrtle in the front yard just exploded pink, another easy shot to make look good.