What to Drink & Eat at the Houston Rodeo Champion Wine Garden

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is in full swing, and thousands of people are headed to NRG Park for entertainment, barbecue, carnival fare and more. One part of the festivities that should not be overlooked is the Champion Wine Garden, featuring more than 70 award-winning wines from the 2020 Rodeo Uncorked! International Wine Competition. Visitors can purchase wine by the glass or by the bottle. For snacking alongside, the wine garden also offers a cheese plate for $24 and a charcuterie plate for $28, as well as bottled water for $4.

“The 2020 Rodeo Uncorked! International Wine Competition featured entries from wineries across the globe, with the Piper-Heidsieck Brut, Champagne, NV taking home the highest honor as our Grand Champion Best of Show,” said Joel Cowley, president and CEO of the Rodeo. “Look for these award-winning wines at retail locations and plan to enjoy a selection at the Champion Wine Garden during the 2020 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.”

Buyers Katherine Cornell and Tom Pirtle, Kristina and Paul Somerville, Jennifer and Joe Van Matre, and Sheridan and John Eddie Williams paid $220,000 for Grand Champion Piper-Heidsieck Brut, Champagne, NV. Courtesy Photo.

You can taste that aforementioned Grand Champion Best of Show winner for yourself (by the bottle only) in the wine garden for $88. That same wine sold for $220,000 at the Champion Wine Auction and Dinner that was just held on March 1. (Proceeds from the auction go to fund college scholarships.) The Reserve Grand Champion, the 2015 Cavaliere d’Oro Bellezza Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG, also sells in the wine garden for $74 a bottle.

The following additional wines and wineries received top honors and are represented at the Champion Wine Garden. The complete list of what’s being served is available online.

  • Top Texas Wine – Bingham Family Vineyards Dugout Red, Texas High Plains, 2017
  • Top Sparkling Wine – Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut, Spain, NV
  • Top White Wine – Chateau Ste. Michelle Dry Riesling, Columbia Valley, 2018
  • Top Red Wine – Revelry Vintners D11 Cabernet Sauvignon, Dionysus Vineyard, Columbia Valley, 2015
  • Top Region Wine – Mi Terruño Mayacaba Malbec, Mendoza, 2015
  • Top Value Wine – Raywood Merlot, Central Coast, 2017
  • Top All-Around Winery – Wilson Family Winery
  • Top Texas Winery – Becker Vineyards
wines at the 2020 Houston Rodeo Champion Wine Garden
Over 76 medal-winning wines are available by the glass or bottle in the Houston Rodeo Champion Wine Garden. Photo by Jamie Alvear.

The wines offered in the Champion Wine Garden represent the end result of a process that started November of last year. The 2020 Rodeo Uncorked! International Wine Competition is one of the largest in the United States. Over 120 judges — wine experts, collectors and industry professionals — gathered at NRG Center on November 16 and 17 to taste through 3,528 entries from 19 countries, including France, Spain, Bulgaria, Italy, Israel, Argentina and South Africa. Texas wineries alone entered 480 selections and 380 entries came from this year’s featured region, Mendoza, Argentina.

Wines marked “DG” on the Champion Wine Garden list received double-gold. That means that all judges on that particular tasting panel unanimously gave it a gold medal vote. A complete list of medal winners can be found on the HLSR website.

In addition to visiting the Champion Wine Garden, rodeo attendees can increase their wine knowledge by registering online for a seminar. These range in price from $55 to $95 per person. (Please note that the seminar fees do not include entry to the grounds or rodeo.) Topics include Steak & Wine, BBQ & Wine and a Taste Bud Bootcamp.

The Champion Wine Garden is open Monday to Thursday from 4 to 11 p.m., Friday from 4 p.m. to midnight, Saturday from 11 a.m. to midnight and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

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