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An inspiring wellness destination brand has set its sight on the Texas Hill Country. Canyon Ranch is coming to the Austin-Hill Country area in 2025. The new resort is the third pending Texas outpost, coming on the heels of announcements for a Fort Worth club (projected for late 2023) and a Houston club (set for 2024).

With current locations in Tucson (Arizona), Lenox (Massachusetts), Woodside (California), and Las Vegas (Nevada), the resort-spa brand is in the process of introducing "urban-based clubs," such as those planned for Fort Worth and Houston, and "a digital app," in addition to the new Hill Country resort location, according to a release.

Canyon Ranch partnered with VICI Properties Inc. to secure up to $200 million in capital to develop the Austin-area resort, with construction set to start in 2023 for a projected 2025 opening.

“First and foremost, we exist to help people live better, longer. Expanding access to our resorts with the Austin location is just one part of a broader Canyon Ranch strategy to engage with our guests on a lifetime journey of wellbeing,” said Jeff Kuster, CEO of Canyon Ranch, in the release.

“Guests will soon be able to begin or continue their wellness experience at our new Canyon Ranch Clubs and be supported by our digital app. The Canyon Ranch ecosystem will surround you with insights, skills and the motivation needed to achieve true transformation. By meeting our guests where they are, Canyon Ranch can seamlessly support them no matter how or where they want to engage with us.”

The immersive, all-inclusive wellness destination brand takes a unique approach to wellbeing by prioritizing longterm solutions. Priori to a Canyon Ranch visit, guests consult with a dedicated Wellness Guide to discuss goals and intentions. The Wellness Guide then selects a personalized team of world-class advisors across a range of disciplines to introduce the guest to new practices and behaviors during their stay, all while enjoying the benefits of state-of-the-art fitness and spa facilities.

For more information on Canyon Ranch and to stay up to date for the new Texas Hill Country location, head to canyonranch.com.

Courtesy of Bakery Lorraine

Favorite San Antonio bakery heads for the hills with first Boerne location

Boerne Bound

One of Alamo City's best bakeries, and perhaps one of its most famous, is heading for the Hill Country. Bakery Lorraine recently announced its newest location coming to Boerne in October 2022.

Featuring the bakery's full menu — macarons, pastries, sandwiches, salads, and more — Boerne residents and Hill Country visitors will find the new location at 134 Oak Park Dr. An official opening date will be announced closer to the time.

Owned by chefs Anne Ng, Jeremy Mandrell, and operator Charlie Biedenharn, the bakery celebrated 10 years in San Antonio in 2021 and its future looks bright: The company has four locations in Alamo City, including one in the Historic Pearl district, one in the Medical Center, one in the RIM shopping center, and one inside the The DoSeum. This new Hill Country location will be its second outside San Antonio, with an Austin outpost at the Domain Northside.

“We are very excited to be opening up shop in Boerne,” said chef and owner Anne Ng. “Boerne feels like a natural fit for Bakery Lorraine and we’re looking forward to becoming part of the community.”

Ng and partner Jeremy Mandrell met while baking at Thomas Keller’s world-famous Bouchon Bakery in Napa Valley, moving to San Antonio in 2010. Since establishing Bakery Lorraine in 2011, the pair have garnered national attention from the likes of Food & Wine magazine (best new bakeries), Condé Nast Traveler (13 destination bakeries), and Southern Living (the South's Best Bakeries, 2022).

In addition to the bakery's iconic, colorful Parisian macarons and divine pastries, the Boerne location will also feature breakfast items, including the breakfast parfait, the quiche Lorraine, and breakfast sandwiches. A variety of savory lunch dishes, including an assortment of salads, soups, and artisan sandwiches, will provide plenty of reasons to stop by well past the morning pastry craving.

For more information on Bakery Lorraine visit bakerylorraine.com.

Gruene Music and Wine Fest brings more good times to a historic venue

Going Gruene

Wine, music, and super-old dance halls are the best offerings of Central Texas. Texas’ oldest dance hall, in fact, Gruene Hall, is bringing both wine and music together at the 36th Annual Gruene Music and Wine Fest from October 6 to 9. In collaboration with KNBT 92.1 FM Radio, ticket and drinks sales from the four-day event in New Braunfels will benefit United Way of Comal County, which in 2021 received nearly $148,000 from the event.

Other festival costs are covered by sponsors (JP Morgan Chase & Co., New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung, and Texas Hill Country Wineries, to name a few). Visitors can participate in wine and beer tastings in between watching live shows at Gruene Hall and The Grapevine wine bar, another one of the event’s sponsors.

On Thursday, October 6, attendees will gather in the Grapevine Garden for tastings from Llano Estacado Winery, Becker Vineyards, Hilmy Cellars, and an unnamed brewery. Admission is free, and tastings are managed with drink tickets in increments of $5 per drink, which decrease to $4 when purchased in larger quantities. There will be live music and giveaways, followed by a ticketed performance from Josh Abbott Band at Gruene Hall.

Friday’s events are already sold out, but could inspire an itinerary for another day in Gruene, visiting the historic Gristmill River Restaurant right next to the dance hall. One of the draws to this day’s tickets was a “Great Guitar Auction,” followed by a performance from Pat Green.

Back at the Grapevine Garden on Saturday from noon to 6 pm, is a new event that mirrors Thursday’s tasting, this time with six wineries: Lost Draw Cellars, Fiesta Winery, Texas SouthWind Vineyard & Winery, Texoir, Los Pinos Ranch Vineyards, and Messina Hof. Josh Baca & The Hot Tamales and The Johnathans will play visitors through the six-hour tasting and into a ticketed concert by the Lost Gonzo Band, founded in 1972.

Sunday unplugs for a string of acoustic performances from 2 pm to 9 pm at Gruene Hall. The lineup hasn’t been announced yet, but Mattson Rainier of KNBT will emcee the all-day, 21-and-up show. The event ($40) promises “some of Texas’ best songwriters.”

When the festival was in its nascent years, it only filled one day, raising $450 for the United Way. The gigantic non-profit conglomerate claims a mission to “advance the common good,” which in Comal County includes support to several kids’, medical, and Christian groups. It also supports multiple food banks and resources for victims of domestic violence.

In general, tasting events are free and tickets can be pre-purchased online, or at the event. Concert tickets must be purchased ahead of time and may sell out. For more information and purchase links, visit gruenemusicandwinefest.org.

Photo courtesy of Kuper Sotheby's International Realty

50-acre Hill Country 'hospitality oasis' fires up $20 million price tag

Posh property

For anyone who loves throwing large and lavish parties, a Hill Country property now on the market for $20 million could be just the ticket to win over even the pickiest of guests.

Binkan Cinaroglu, a Kuper Sotheby’s International Realty agent in San Antonio who has the listing, describes Oakfire Ridge as a “hospitality oasis.” The 50-acre property, at 1275 Stoney Ridge Rd., sits southeast of Bulverde in Comal County.

“There is so much that makes this property special, from the unsurpassed attention to quality and detail it took to create, to the picturesque natural environment that surrounds you everywhere you look,” Cinaroglu tells CultureMap.

Oakfire Ridge, established in 2018, features:

  • The more than 7,200-square-foot Biergarten Hall, complete with a concrete vault, an HD projection system, and a mobile smoke kitchen.
  • A more than 4,400-square-foot bar and patio with 10 beer and wine taps, wraparound seating, two “fire lounges,” and a sun terrace.
  • A 1,000-square-foot indoor “speakeasy,” including its own food truck.
  • An 800-square-foot outdoor kitchen highlighted by two chef’s tables, a pool with a water slide, and a walnut deck.
  • A more than 5,600-square-foot estate with four bedrooms, a gym, a floor-to-ceiling library with stairs, and an open area with living space, a kitchen, and a bar.
  • A more than 2,600-square-foot home with three bedrooms and a gourmet kitchen.
  • A one-mile walking and cycling loop.
  • A natural rock wall and bridge.
  • Several irrigated garden and herb beds.
  • More than 900 live oak trees.
  • A gated entrance.
  • Parking for 500 vehicles.

The new owner “will be able to implement a lifestyle of tranquility by enjoying the gorgeous backdrop at Oakfire Ridge while having the ability to entertain on a grand scale when need be,” Cinaroglu says.

Cinaroglu says the current owners, Sean and Coco Tipton, are selling the property because they’re preparing to set up another “hospitality oasis” closer to San Antonio.

Oakfire Ridge was designed to host guests in the Hill Country.

Photo courtesy of Kuper Sotheby's International Realty
Oakfire Ridge was designed to host guests in the Hill Country.
Courtesy of West & Swope Ranches

Hill Country cattle ranch ripe for redevelopment moseys onto market at $7.5 million

Lakefront land

A 72-acre waterfront ranch in Kerrville that’s ripe for redevelopment just went on the market for $7.5 million.

West and Swope Ranches, which has the listing, says Nimitz Lake Ranch is used for a cattle operation but would be ideal for a mixed-use project, a “gorgeous residential retreat with tons of river frontage,” or a hospitality venue.

“The land is mostly cleared, with beautiful mature oaks scattered throughout, and nice, tall cypress trees lining the Guadalupe River bank,” the listing says.

The listing agents are Perry Donop III and Michael McNamara.

The three Hill Country tracts that make up Nimitz Lake Ranch adjoin the Guadalupe River and Nimitz Lake. According to the listing, the frontage along the Guadalupe “is amazing, providing several places to launch boats or kayaks along with several spots to fish from the bank.”

Wildlife on the ranch includes fish, deer, turkeys, doves, and ducks.

The property offers about half a mile of road frontage along Thompson Road and about 1,300 feet of frontage along James Road. It sits 67 miles northwest of San Antonio, 27 miles southwest of Fredericksburg, and a little over 100 miles west of Austin.

Next to the ranch, Kerrville-based MacDonald Cos. is developing a 60-acre, mixed-use development called The Landing.

Nimitz Lake Ranch features waterfront acreage on both the Guadalupe River and Nimitz Lake.

Courtesy of West & Swope Ranches
Nimitz Lake Ranch features waterfront acreage on both the Guadalupe River and Nimitz Lake.
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San Antonio Missions hit home run with new owners, plus more top stories

Hot Headlines

Editor’s note: It’s that time again — time to check in with our top stories. Here are five articles that captured our collective attention over the past seven days.

1. San Antonio's minor league baseball team scores new owners, including Texas sports legends. San Antonio's minor league baseball team is back to being locally owned — by some big names.

2. H-E-B unveils new line of merchandise for super fans, available exclusively at this store. Kerrville was chosen to launch the company's new line of H-E-B-branded merchandise, in celebration of its 117th anniversary and in honor of its first store.

3. San Antonio market continues to see prices going up and sales going down. San Antonio home sales dropped 19 percent from October 2021.

4. San Antonio Rodeo wrangles even more musical acts for star-studded 2023. Turnpike Troubadours joined the already impressive lineup for the 2023 San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo.

5. San Antonio children's theater adapts timeless children's book for the holidays. Magik Theatre celebrates The Velveteen Rabbit as a Christmas story, with inclusive special performances.

Steven Spielberg opens up personal history in The Fabelmans

Movie Review

For over 40 years, director Steven Spielberg has been delivering some of the most popular blockbuster movies of all time as well as a bevy of Oscar-quality dramas, a combination that’s unique to him. For his latest, The Fabelmans, he’s decided to go more personal than ever, telling a thinly-veiled version of his own childhood.

Sammy (played mostly by Gabriel LaBelle) is one of four children – and the only son – of Mitzi (Michelle Williams), a concert pianist, and Burt Fabelman (Paul Dano), a computer engineer. From an early age, Sammy is enthralled by the art of filmmaking, first remaking a train crash sequence from The Greatest Show on Earth, and gradually moving on to more adventurous stories.

Burt’s advancing career, which moves the family from New Jersey to Arizona to California, causes stress for various members of the family, most notably Sammy and Mitzi. Sammy must deal with anti-Semitic bullies, while Mitzi falls deeper into a mental health crisis. Sammy’s movies continually offer a respite for the family, though, giving him a creative outlet and the rest of them a chance to forget their troubles for a while.

Written by Spielberg – his first writing effort since 2001’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence – and Tony Kushner, the film is heavy on emotions but presented in a way that those feelings don’t always translate. Spielberg is no stranger to depicting fraught family situations in his long career, but in showing ones from his own family, it feels like he pulled back, not wanting the scenes to be overwrought or schmaltzy.

The result is a story that isn’t as universal as some of his other films. As the film is told from Sammy’s perspective, it’s easy to get caught up in his pursuits and various discoveries as he gets older. The mindsets of the rest of the family are less clear, even though his parents and sisters are ever-present. Mitzi’s state of mind is a concern from the start, but it’s not always treated as such by other important characters.

Just as Sammy’s movies are an escape for his family, so too are they some of the best parts of the film. Sammy figuring out the process and secrets of filmmaking is informative and often thrilling, especially if you’re a cinephile. Spielberg has been considered a master for so long that watching him revisit the days when he was learning as he went is catnip for movie lovers.

In addition to being a dead ringer for a teenage Spielberg, LaBelle is a fantastic actor. It’s no easy feat to carry a movie on your shoulders, and LaBelle makes the assignment look easy. Williams’ performance will likely be more polarizing; she employs a very mannered speech pattern that works in some situations, but not all. The film also includes memorable short appearances by Seth Rogen, Judd Hirsch, and David Lynch.

Spielberg has provided the moviegoing public with such pleasure over the years that he deserves to have a movie that’s mostly for him. The initial viewing of The Fabelmans left this critic wanting, but perhaps it will gain more traction on a second screening.

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The Fabelmans is now playing in theaters.

Photo by Merie Weismuller Wallace/Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment

Gabriel LaBelle in The Fabelmans

New self-guided tour showcases iconic Fort Worth Stockyards' many Hollywood ties

Tinseltown in Cowtown

A new self-guided tour showcasing the Fort Worth Stockyards’ many star-studded appearances in cinema throughout the years recently debuted in time for the 16th annual Lone Star Film Festival, which took place earlier this month in the Stockyards for the first time.

Called Stars of the Stockyards, the eight-stop, go-at-your-own pace walking tour guides folks to famous film sites where celebrities have stepped foot in front of Hollywood cameras. Visitors to the Stockyards can access the PDF tour map on their smart phones via QR codes (no app required) posted throughout the district, namely at hotels and tour kiosks.

"The Stockyards is a historic and celebrated destination for many reasons, but one that may be lesser known is its popularity as a filming location for some of our favorite movies and TV series," said Ethan Cartwright, VP of marketing for Stockyards Heritage Development Co.

The tour and corresponding QR codes are a permanent addition to the district, he said.

Stops on the map include the iconic White Elephant Saloon, a hotbed for Hollywood performances including several by legendary actor and martial artist Chuck Norris in the longtime TV series, Walker, Texas Ranger when the watering hole was portrayed as the fictional CD Bar. The White Elephant was also graced by country music superstar Tim McGraw and Academy Award-winning actor Billy Bob Thornton for their appearances in Paramount Plus’ hit series 1883.

Also in 1883 and featured on the tour is Hookers Grill, hidden in the less flashy West side of Exchange Ave. The burger shack transformed into a gambling den in the show called The Texas House of Liquor & Sport. It’s the only building in the Stockyards that preserved the façade constructed by 1883’s production team. During operating hours, customers can order at the outdoor burger window and dine at patio tables within the two-story structure.

Cowtown Coliseum is marked on the map for its appearances in the 1983 film Tough Enough, where actor Dennis Quaid played an amateur boxer. It’s also the home of the final rodeo scene in the 1992 movie Pure Country starring country music legend George Strait.

Billy Bob’s Texas, the Stockyards Hotel, and even unassuming historic cattle pens also make the list on the tour, along with notations for the Texas Trail of Fame, which features more than 240 bronze markers honoring contributors for preserving and perpetuating the Western way of life.

Veteran actors Sam Elliot and Robert Duvall, both stars in the megahit TV series Yellowstone, are among the most recent Texas Trail of Fame inductees.

For more information and to get started on the tour, go here.