Perhaps you’re familiar with the old saying, “Everything is bigger in Texas.” When it comes to the wine industry, this famous adage couldn’t be truer; and the wine industry isn’t just bigger in Texas, it’s also better. That said, Texas still is not typically the first place people think of when discussing wineries, but perhaps it should be. With more than five million annual visitors, the Texas Hill Country region features 51 wineries spanning the entire area. Texas is the number five wine-producing state in the U.S., and the Texas Hill Country American Viticultural Area (AVA) is the second largest in the nation. In fact, the Wine Road 290 Trail is one of the most traveled wine roads in the U.S., likely because of unsurpassed Texas pride and hospitality that abundantly flows throughout the region.
What’s more, Fredericksburg, which is located in Hill Country, cultivates more than half of the world’s grape varietals. Because of the state’s sunny and dry climate, wine varieties like cabernet, muscat blanc, muscat canelli, syrah, tempranillo, viognier and zinfandel are best for growing and producing. From Austin and Fredericksburg to Lampasas and New Braunfels, there are many areas of the region worth exploring and there’s always a place—and wine—to suit the taste bud of all age appropriate visitors.
“The Texas Hill Country AVA has grown very rapidly in the past decade as Texas wineries have discovered which grapes grow the best in Texas terroir,” says Julie Kuhlken, PhD, co-founder of Pedernales Cellars. “Most wineries do a range of Mediterranean grape varieties, which are well-suited to the heat and shorter growing season. Stand-outs include tempranillo, mourvedre, grenache and tannat among the red grapes, and viognier, vermentino, roussanne and albarino among the white grapes. The U.S. Highway 290 corridor has also established a reputation for quality wine tourism and hospitality and that keeps guests coming back.”
While visitors are welcome to tour the wineries and taste the wines year-round, the Texas Hill County region offers several events throughout the year to make the visit even more rewarding and fun. During these events, visitors can relax and enjoy a number of wine-themed activities, including wine trails, which are self-guided driving tours with wineries offering special tastings of newly released wines, winery tours and demonstrations; wine and handmade chocolate pairings for Valentine’s Day; Kick-Off Tastings, which focus on a smaller group of wineries in one location; and Barrel Tastings, which allow guests to get a preview of not-yet-released wines.
Now without further ado, here’s a selection of some of the fine wineries that are satiating the distinguished and discriminating tastes of locals and visitors to Texas Hill Country:
4.0 Cellars: Located in Fredericksburg, this winery originally began as a collaboration between Brennan Vineyards, Lost Oak Winery and McPherson Cellars, which in turn created a fourth winery (hence its name). Its name also stands for its goal of striving for perfection. The winery features a tasting room and wine club, and offers a wide range of wines. The winery’s buildings and picturesque grounds also provide the perfect pairing for corporate events and wedding ceremonies.
Becker Vineyards: Served at The White House, the hand-crafted and award-winning wines at Becker Vineyards are topnotch. This 100,000-case per year winery hosts events like wine tastings and tours, and also houses a reception hall, custom cellar and private tasting room.
Bending Branch Winery: This boutique winery near Comfort, Texas, follows sustainable practices and an organically focused operation. It boasts 16 grape varieties, including its signature grape, tannat.
Messina Hof Hill CountryWinery: Located in Fredericksburg, this winery is a convenient, first stop on the Texas Hill Country Winery trail. “At Messina Hof, our motto is ‘Join the Family’ and that’s exactly what guests can expect—to be treated as a part of our family,” says Savannah Gaines, public relations coordinator at Messina Hof Winery. “At Messina Hof Hill Country, guests can experience tours and tastings, unique weekly pairing specials, events like our Murder Mystery Dinner and stay on property at our Manor Haus Bed and Breakfast cottages. Our tasting room features more than 50 Messina Hof wines, including wine on tap and wines exclusive to our Hill Country location.”
Pedernales Cellars: Family-owned and operated, Pedernales Cellars features world-class wines, an underground winemaking cellar and a tree-covered deck with breathtaking views of the Texas Hill Country for guests to relax and enjoy a glass of wine. “We specialize in tempranillo and viognier, offering benchmark Texas wines in these varieties,” says Kuhlken. “We also make Rhône-style blends, as well as a range of aromatic white wines including albarino, vermentino, muscat and roussanne. We offer several tasting options: a main bar tasting and a reserve tasting, as well as private tours and tastings. We have fabulous views from our patio, and on most Saturdays throughout the year, we feature live music in the afternoon on the patio. In July, we extend the patio experience and stay open until 9 p.m. with a second round of live music. This provides our guests with the opportunity to enjoy the summer sunset from the patio.”
Wedding Oak Winery at Wildseed Farms: At Wedding Oak Winery, they believe that wine is about the shared pleasures of life. Marrying wildflowers with wine, as the winery is located on Wildseed Farms with views of wildflower fields, this winery is a must-see spot on the Texas Hill County winery trail.
It’s as clear as white wine that a visit to the wineries in Texas Hill Country is a must for locals and visitors alike. “I believe the combination of Texas hospitality and quality wines make the Texas Hill Country so appealing to visitors,” says Gaines. “The State of Texas is also unique in that we cover one of the most diverse agriculture profiles and broad selections of grape varieties in the U.S.”
Whether you are celebrating National Wine Day (May 25), National Drink Wine Day (February 18) or simply wish to enjoy a glass of wine any day of the year, a visit to the wineries in Texas Hill Country is sure to be a truly satisfying and toast-worthy experience!