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Texas’s Rising Star Spirits Shoot Over Fort Worth
by Elyse Glickman / photos by author

The old saying goes that good things are bigger in Texas, and this holds true with the growth of boutique spirits enterprises

Fort Worth, TX is one of those big little cities that stuns and surprises, especially now that the much-awaited Sundance Square development came to fruition last November. Although there have always been superb steakhouses, bold barbecues and stompin' saloons, its transformation to desirable destination is now fully realized.

When a city is ready for its urban chic closeup, it's inevitable that a food and wine festival will appear on the events calendar and rope people in from miles around. That said, the first annual Fort Worth Food & Wine Festival went beyond being a success, with sold out events, nearly flawless crowd control and great local enthusiasm for local chefs as well as distillers from Fort Worth and throughout the state.

"I think one of the things that made the festival such a success is that Texans are proud of their state, and therefore, will support products made here in Fort Worth and elsewhere," says Mike Micallef, co-founder of the Fort Worth Food & Wine Festival and president of the Reata Restaurant Group. "TX Distillery's whiskey, for example, is emblematic of that success, at our restaurants and other places around town. They've done a fantastic job with their marketing...and more importantly, they have a great product."

Micallef says that in the long term, the organizers' collective goal is to work toward having 50% of the attendees come from outside of Fort Worth. As a city's appeal is inexorably tied to its restaurants and bars, the themed events promote local chefs as well as ways each one fits into a visitor's or local's experience of the city. Although the featured spirits are from distilleries all over Texas, the foods and the proud, epi-curious attendees make the Fort Worth Food & Wine Festival a tailor made showcase for the products in on- and off-premise contexts.

"What gave us the idea was going out to the Buffalo Gap Food and Wine Festival, which is popular that tickets for their big Saturday night event sells out in 15 minutes," continues Micallef. "Given that event is staged in a town of people, 30 minutes outside of Abilene, it should work in Fort Worth. Also, when we first saw the plan for the Sundance Plaza, that gave us the impetus to say we needed to do one in Fort Worth."

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