Posted by: Josh Hinkle | April 14, 2009

A Toast to Texas

img_0420As the movers packed the last of the boxes into the Uhaul and my grandfather’s pickup, I was careful to keep one box away from their hands. The weather had cooperated thus far for my impending move from Iowa south to Texas. One mover started for my particular box, when I mentioned I wanted to keep it in the front seat of the truck with me. I wasn’t sure where it would go. The caravan to the Lone Star State was already full to the brim, and I was shoveling furniture and clothing to the local Goodwill Store left and right to make room.

Flat Creek Estate

Flat Creek Estate - Marble Falls, TX

“This box is full of wine, and I want to keep it cool,” I told the man. He snickered at me and grabbed it anyway, so I shot him a look that said, “Go ahead. Take it. We’ll see if you get a tip.” At this point, moving was anything but fun. I truly appreciated the movers’ efforts, but I can be a bit of a grump at times. Tired, dreading the 17-hour journey, and noticing the first flakes of that final Iowa snow I had hoped to escape, I paid the men, generous tip included, and set out on the highway to start something new in life.

The box’s contents rattled and clanked all the way to the Austin area. Inside were several bottles of wine. Nothing expensive. Nothing rare. Just wine that reminded me of my growth. A bottle from college, where my best friend, fraternity brother and I, learned to appreciate the taste through an Oklahoma State elective. What a class! Another from my years in grad school, when my roommate and I toasted to the milestones of our theses. Riesling for me, Shiraz for her. Then there was the wine I bought just before the Cedar River destroyed the entire product line for a downtown Cedar Rapids winery and distillery. That flood was the start of what pushed me to pursue something different.

about-josh-kxanIt eventually led to the creation of this blog and my realization of how the broadcast industry is changing. What I wanted to do as a journalist no longer fit behind the anchor desk at six o’clock every weekend morning. While some colleagues wondered why I would ever choose to shoot and edit my own stories and spend extra time creating content online, I nevertheless yearned for a new challenge.

Then the opportunity to work at KXAN presented itself. It was a station I’d admired for years. The Hill Country Bureau wasn’t exactly Austin, but the excitement the station had for its possibilities fit perfectly with what I had in mind. The first story where I was completely on my own – a one-man band, they call it – brought me back to those bottled memories.

Rick & Madelyn Naber

Rick & Madelyn Naber, owners Flat Creek Estate

Rick and Madelyn Naber made a similar journey. Both grew up in Iowa and left to pursue something they wanted. The trip also took them to the Texas Hill Country, where they established a vineyard and winery called Flat Creek just outside of Marble Falls. Around the time I moved in so did a cold snap, a late spring frost that destroyed more than 70% of this couple’s crop. Lush, green leaves on the vine withered into crumbly, brown nothing.

img_0365After a decade of wine-making, giving up was not an option. They simply decided to ship in grapes from out-of-state wineries and create a makeshift product. It wasn’t perfect, but it worked for them. It also made me think about my own professional struggles. I adapt for my needs and still encounter hurdles along the way. This next step in my life is, no doubt, going to be tough, but I believe it will also be worth it.

img_0364As I sit in my now unpacked apartment entering this first blog post from the Hill Country, I can glance over at the wine rack in the corner. I wonder what occasion will be worthy enough to collect dust with the other bottles. Better yet, I wonder which one will fill my glass as soon as I hit “Publish.”

Take a “Flipcam” tour through the Texas Wine Country below.



  1. This is great! I just love reading this. I feel like I’m there! Enjoy the Texas Hill Country and all it as to offer… and beyond!

  2. Thanks. I’m discovering a lot of great things about the Hill Country. The Bluebonnet Festival last weekend in Burnet was surprisingly fun. There is a lot to offer in this part of Texas.

  3. This is great Josh! Wine Country looks wonderful!

  4. Welcome to the Hill Country, Josh; as a five-year resident (Boerne), I can affirm it’s a great place to live. Make sure to check out the southwest corner and Boerne, and around Christmas time, definitely hit Pedernales Electric Cooperative in Johnson City for the light display.

  5. The wine is definitely different… and that’s by design. Make your next trip to Dry Comal Creek and talk to Franklin Houser (vintner). He is like the dad on Big Fish… FULL of awesome stories… most entertaining wine tasting you will ever experience. FYI – You can also buy property there on the Texas Hill Country Wine Trail in a vineyard community as well:

  6. Excellent! Thanks for the tip. Keep me posted on anything like this!

  7. You love wine, Molly! Thanks!

  8. Hi Josh, I am SO impressed! I love your work! Glad to have you at KXAN! Great job! 🙂

  9. Take good care of Josh Texas. Saturday mornings aren’t the same without him.

    Love the new look to the blog Josh.

  10. Thanks! I had to change the banner at the top, since I was holding a KCRG-TV9 mic in the old photo. The new photo is on the banks of the Colorado River in Marble Falls, TX, just after sunset.

  11. Thanks for leaving the comment! I really like KXAN, and I’m really grateful to have nice co-workers like you.

  12. Thanks for the tip! I’ll have to check out that winery!

  13. […] this blog post and gave me ideas for my own challenges that, undoubtedly, lie ahead. Experience “Living Off The Air” for the entire multi-media […]

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