Jan 24, 201301:46 PMThe Telegraph

The Premier Blog of the West

Open Range: Valentine's Day Gift Guide

Jan 24, 2013 - 01:46 PM
Open Range: Valentine's Day Gift Guide

Be Cheesy

While you sit by the fire with glass in hand, snack on something scrumptious that pairs well with your wine, like the organic artisan cheeses of Cowgirl Creamery. Among their  special occasion selections is the Cowgirl Deluxe assortment, which includes four of founding cowgirls Sue Conley and Peggy Smith’s most popular award-winning spreads — Red Hawk, Chimney Rock, Wagon Wheel, and Mt Tam — packed in a wooden cheese safe alongside locally baked olive oil and sea salt crackers made for the Point Reyes Station, California, creamery by Rustic Bakery ($110). 866.433.7834, www.cowgirlcreamery.com

Sweet And Spicy

You and your special someone may prefer  to keep it simple when it comes to exchanging gifts for Valentine’s Day. If so, Cowgirl Chocolates is sure to have just the thing, especially if your sweetheart has a sweet tooth. Say you care with more than just a card, and without breaking the bank, by presenting a sweet and spicy assortment of treats packaged with Western flair. For your guy, the signature gift pack lets the goods speak for themselves, including a Trail Ridin’ bag of truffles, a jar of the award-winning caramel sauce, and a can of spicy old-fashioned hot cocoa ($34.95). For your gal, try a more sentimental assortment like the Cowgirl Hand-Painted Rustic Truffle Box, which couples a half-pound of chocolaty goodness with an original keepsake box featuring a classic cowgirl postcard image ($34.95). 888.882.4098, www.cowgirlchocolates.com

Raise Your Glass

For special occasions such as Valentine’s Day, the Hearst Ranch Winery offers a uniquely Western assortment of gift packages. California Dreamin’ pairs the winery’s popular chardonnay and a cabernet sauvignon, both of which exemplify the varietal characteristics of California wine country ($60). The Cowboy Collection also comes with Hearst’s Bunkhouse cabernet, as well as a rich merlot and a sampling of Hearst Ranch Natural Beef Jerky ($82). For those who don’t drink reds, the White Gold gift set pairs the award-winning Three Sisters white cuvée and Glacier Ridge chardonnay ($48). And for connoisseurs who want to splurge on something special, the Legend collection comes with two bottles of the winery’s barrel select red cuvée, The Point, a unique expression of Bordeaux and Rhone varieties ($138). 805.927.4100, www.hearstranchwinery.com

Lonely Hearts Club

Haven’t yet found your Mr. or Mrs. Right? You aren’t alone. In fact, members of EquestrianSingles.com will tell you to join the club and meet more than 100,000 fellow singles and equine lovers from 200 countries. Created by two horse owners who know the importance of finding someone with shared interests, EquestrianSingles.com was the first (and remains the most popular) social networking site of its kind, bringing equestrians from around the world together online to talk about all things equine while searching for love. Sign up to make new friends and riding buddies, and you just might stumble across someone special to ride off with into the sunset. www.equestriansingles.com

Unique Distillation

Eureka moments are undeniably satisfying. Sometimes, however, it’s a slow, steady realization — call it a natural evolution — that bears the greatest fruit. The genesis of Firestone & Robertson Distilling Co. in Fort Worth, Texas, has more in common with the latter, says co-owner Leonard Firestone of his collaboration with partner Troy Robertson. “It wasn’t necessarily a moment of inspiration for us to change career paths as much as it was the evolution of an interest combined with an entrepreneurial instinct,” Firestone explains. “The more we got into it the more we found distilling to be a seductive muse. There is an inherent romance in distilling. It strikes powerful chords of emotion, passion, and the physical senses. The craft quickly became all-consuming, and we have never had a second thought about pursuing  
this dream.”

Like the dream and its slow maturation is Firestone & Robertson’s straight bourbon. Aged in charred white oak barrels, the bourbon is made from Texas Panhandle corn, locally grown soft red winter wheat, and Brazos, a proprietary yeast strain developed from a Glen Rose, Texas, pecan. The combination of these ingredients leads to a robust, approachable whiskey with sweet notes.

Firestone & Robertson now also offers TX blended whiskey, the creation of which is something of an artistic process — one that head distiller Rob Arnold has perfected. Not only is the selection of whiskeys a nuanced one, the bottles themselves are one-of-a-kind works of art. Each is adorned with a handmade leather bottle top. Among the hides used thus far are giraffe, buffalo, alligator, ostrich, and python. 817.840.9140, www.frdistilling.com

Buffalo Bourbon

Through what is now Kentucky, ancient buffalo carved a pathway that was later followed by America’s early pioneers. And on the spot where the buffalo migration route crossed the Kentucky River, the pioneers of Buffalo Trace Distillery have been making their legendary bourbon whiskey for more than 200 years. The oldest continuously operating distillery in the country, Buffalo Trace has won more awards in the last decade than any other distillery in the world. In tribute to the mighty buffalo and the independent spirit of the pioneers who followed them westward, this Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey remains uncompromised and unchanged, still made from the finest corn, barley malt, and rye, and aged in new oak barrels at century-old warehouses until the peak of maturity. The result: a rich blend of complex flavors with hints of vanilla, toffee, and candied fruit, and a smooth finish that lingers on the palate. 866.729.3722, www.buffalotrace.com

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