Houston Meets -- Gasp! -- Dallas at the Rodeo's Champion Wine Garden
It's early in the evening, but the wine and the greetings are both flowing at Carruth Plaza in the heart of Reliant Park. The folks here are dressed to the nines for rodeo season, and between the blingy cowboy hats and expensive oversized turquoise jewelry, it's beginning to feel a bit like the set of Dallas -- with a RodeoHouston twist, of course.
Nearby, a well-dressed man is posing on top of the bronze statues in the rodeo's Champion Wine Garden, an outdoor "lounge" right in the shadow of Reliant Stadium, but no one seems to mind his selfies. A couple of glasses of wine will loosen even the stiffest bolo tie, and there is plenty of wine available here to work that magic.
After all, this is where the winners of the Uncorked! are showcased, and Texas wines are available by the glass or by the bottle. Most folks are opting for the bottle, at least based on the steady line of successors who follow our statue-climbing model.
SEE ALSO: 10 Years After its Inception, Rodeo Uncorked! Brings in More People Than Ever (Eating Our Words)
Wine isn't the only thing showcased in the garden, though. The garden is also home base for the rodeo elite; gold badges and other credentials hang from nearly every neck, and everyone seems to recognize someone at the next table. It's quite a scene, with a distinct urban-cowboy vibe. When Houston does country, it does so with some city flair -- and lace, of all things.
We've counted nearly 15 women sporting expensive lace tops and garish cowboy boots in a matter of minutes, and are starting to wonder if this is a requirement for entrance into the wine garden. The amount of rhinestones in this place is staggering; they adorn everything from the pockets of expensive western jeans to cowboy hats, and we can't help but question whether any certified rodeo cowboy would ever find this attire practical. The outfits are gorgeous, of course, but there's also something humorous about the idea of this being western wear. Surely those pockets would be considered hazardous on a trail ride.
In reality, those blingy duds won't ever touch a saddle, though. The closest they'll come to any sort of rodeo action is atop those bronze statues, which we hope are much sturdier than they appear. A group of six friendly blondes is now scattered among the various bronze horses, waving to their friends from their mounts. We're impressed with their balance, given that those statues look a bit slippery. Or it could just be the wine.
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