Whine capital of Texas

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At the same time, the foundation entered into a contract with Grapevine so that the city could keep track of the money it was investing. As part of the contract, which was approved by the Grapevine City Council on December 13, 1991, the city paid for the salaries of a full-time secretary and an executive director. The city council also appointed the foundation's board of directors, while one council member was chosen to serve as a liaison to the board.

Lastly, McCallum was named chairman of the board. Later, the by-laws were changed, and McCallum became the foundation's CEO, which was a purely advisory position.

The board members, meanwhile, would spearhead the preservation projects. They would also be in charge of fund-raising and operating the city's annual festivals, the proceeds of which would be used for preservation and educational projects.

"This was a straightforward nonprofit organization like the Dallas Opera or whatever, but the city also provided services, one of which was my salary," says Ron Emrich, former foundation executive director.

Until this year, the foundation's relationship with the city was something that nobody paid much attention to, and the foundation operated independently. With the exception of buying property, Emrich says, the board made all financial and programming decisions without the city's intervention.

"Decisions were made by the board, as they should have been," Emrich says. "In fact, the city council ignored the Grapevine Heritage Foundation, and very few of the city council members have been dues-paying members."

Moreover, Brekken says, nobody questioned McCallum's style.
"We were just really looking to P.W. He was a visionary. His ideas were great," Brekken says. "If he said to do something, we just did it. Everything he did turned to gold."

During its first few years, the foundation was a success story in the world of historic preservation. Almost overnight, Main Street appeared to waken after a long slumber and was once again brimming with life.

In time, the depot was moved back to its original location, and its museum was updated. But that was only the beginning of McCallum's vision. While volunteers kept busy in town, McCallum convinced Fort Worth businessman Bill Davis to bring his Tarantula Train to Grapevine.

The puzzle's only missing piece was a railroad turntable, which would allow the train to turn around once it arrived. In 1995, McCallum proudly announced that he had found a turntable that was being junked and had bought it for a dollar.

Brekken recalls how the people of the town gathered on Main Street to watch the prized possession finally arrive.

"That was a really big deal, and [McCallum] was so excited that day the turntable came down Main Street on that big truck," she says. "It was one of the memorable community moments."

Brekken pauses for a moment, the memory stirring up the sadness she's felt ever since everything has changed and her friends on the board went away. Especially Emrich.

She reaches into her pocket and retrieves a tissue.
"It just seems it's different to me now, losing Ron. I just feel like the heart has been taken out of this, and I hope that's just because I'm so close to this and it won't affect the other volunteers," Brekken says. "I really hope."

Like Brekken, Woods isn't exactly thrilled by the city's attempt to transform itself into a wine district.

"A lot of us old-timers, and we're in the minority and maybe it's just sour grapes, but we liked Grapevine the way it was. We're not all that crazy about all this hullabaloo," Woods says. "If you can spell that."

Visitors who stroll into the historic storefronts on Main Street are left with the impression that wine-making is an integral part of the city's heritage that is still flourishing.

Brown street signs directing tourists to Grapevine's "wineries" dot Main Street, while the city's year-old grape logo appears in storefronts, in advertisements, and on welcome mats.

Only a cynic could detect the slyness with which the city's promotional material artfully blends the city's age with its wine industry. One brochure, for example, titled "A Timeless Adventure," encourages tourists to "journey to Grapevine, Texas, where history is a way of life."

Another brochure touts the city's annual festivals, including GrapeFest, which take place against the backdrop of historic Main Street.

"Here, you'll step back in time to hometown America as you enjoy beautiful, turn-of-the-century buildings, charming boutiques, wonderful restaurants, and excellent galleries," the brochure promises. "Of course, many of our festivals celebrate Grapevine's heritage of grape growing and harvesting. After all, Grapevine is named after the wild mustang grapes that covered the area when settlers first arrived in 1844."

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Rose Farley
Contact: Rose Farley