The Tasting Panel magazine

January 2014

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A LONE STAR LIFE Notes from Luckenbach C M Y CM MY D CY by Anthony Head / photo by Kirk Weddle espite being a mere blip within the Texas Hill Country, Luckenbach (population 25) has attracted such legends as Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Jerry Jeff Walker and Lyle Lovett to perform. It's kind of a miracle of a musical destination. Out in back of the Luckenbach General Store (and beer joint), I peck away at my vintage lap-top, contemplating this past year and determining that, indeed, miracles are occurring all around me in Texas. Specifically, the landscape is slowly changing in favor of liberty and freedom through popular elections in individual cities that vote to roll back arcane blue laws. You see, Texas is still a "wet"/"dry" community quilt, where alcohol sales are banned, or partly banned, depending on where you're standing. Perhaps more of these communities, squeezed dry (pardon the pun) by tough economic times, are discovering that alcohol sales bring in revenue (including tax revenue). Not only that, but allowing alcohol to be sold and/or consumed on-premises attracts other types of businesses, like hotel, convention, and entertainment venues, which add more dollars to local coffers. By my best research, at least 250 Texas communities in the past decade (including several in 2013) have repealed or scaled back such prohibitive laws, economic consideration being a large factor. But I'd like to think these decades-old practices have more to do with freedom and liberty. Without getting too political (alcohol and politics rarely blend well) or philosophical (booze and brains can be tricky, too), there's no reason for any government—large or small—to act like it has the right to control the free trade of any legal product. Wasn't that the lesson learned from Prohibition? And if my years in Texas have taught me anything, it's that Texans are loathe to hear they can't do something—and that includes purchasing a bottle of Balcones Single Malt Texas Whisky or a sixpack of Lone Star or a glass of Pedernales Cellars Tempranillo whenever and wherever they want. Unfortunately, the year wasn't perfect. Texans still can't visit a liquor store on Sundays—they're closed by state law, even though beer and wine retail sales are allowed. But I know that, in the future, this too shall change. So if a little speck on the map like Luckenbach can demonstrate such character as to become a legendary country-music destination, then the rest of us can shrug off a little disappointment and remain optimistic for the year ahead. CMY K 36  /  the tasting panel  /  january 2014 TP0114_034-65.indd 36 12/19/13 9:27 PM

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