While many believe our country’s best wine can be found on the West Coast, the winemakers in Texas Hill Country have been quietly building up an abundance of exquisite wines right here in the South.
With nearly 40 wineries, the Texas Hill Country Viticultural area encompasses a massive 15,000 square miles. In the center of the wineries is the quaint German town of Fredericksburg, about one hour away from San Antonio, Texas.
Texas soil lends itself to Mediterranean style wines — think Tempranillo instead of Cabernet; Viognier instead of Chardonnay. Compared to California, what truly makes Hill Country wineries unique is that they aren’t overrun with big tour buses. At least not yet. Still, many wineries suggest making appointments, so you can truly savor the experience. Co-0wner of William Chris vineyards Chris Brundrett said, “We’d rather people not come, than us not be able to give them the attention they deserve.”
Although Texas wineries do ship to 13 states, Texas wine is not produced in quantities large enough to be exported. If you want to sample the best of what Texas Hill Country wineries have to offer, your best bet is to visit Texas. Here are four of the best wineries to visit and what to order:
Like Instagram-worthy scenery? Then visit forty-six acre Becker Vineyards. Not only do they have gorgeous lavender fields, but also the tasting room is a replica of a German stone barn. But it’s not just looks with Becker; their 2004 Chardonnay Reserve was served at a 2006 White House dinner. Must try wine: the Prairie Rotie. A Silver Medal winner in the San Francisco International Wine Competition, it is a light bodied red with a hint of spice and cherries. Tastings are $15 for 6 tastes.
If you fancy yourself a food enthusiast or are traveling with one, then you’ll certainly want to put this Texas winery on your list. Each wine is perfectly paired with a small bite. The winery works closely with local chef, Chris Cook, founder of the San Antonio Chef Cooperatives, to create delectable bites to bring out the best nuances of each wine varietal. Think smoked salmon roulade wrapped in cucumber. Must-try wine: Alluve, a Red Blend made mostly of Petite Syrah and Grenache. Cost is $20.00 per guest for five tastes ($5 will be waived from the cost of the tasting for each bottle purchased). Upgrade to the $27.50 tasting to experience one additional wine and one additional taste.
This winery opened in the 1990s just outside of Fredericksburg by a couple who sold the winery to their children. Their children now run the winery and have since moved it to a more expansive facility in Stonewall, Texas. Owner Julie Kuhlken’s pride for her vineyard shines through as she tours the property and greets guests. Must-try wine: Viognier. Even if you think you detest white wines, give this one a try. It is not as sweet as a Riesling but doesn’t have the oaky taste of a Chardonnay. You’ll find notes of honey and tropical fruits. Tastings are $15 and includes six tastes.
The winery is named after the two founders, who have a combined 35 years experience under their belts. The owners are heavily involved in the business and often give tours themselves. Tours are daily and cost $20 per person, but reservations are recommended. Must-try wines: Mouvedre and Roussanne. Mouvedre wine is popular in France and Spain, but this Texas winery has put its own spin on the full-bodied red. Roussanne is the perfect dessert wine you’ve never tried.
There are several ways to get around Hill Country. Rent a car and drive yourself or there are over a dozen different wine tour operators in business in the Hill Country.
The town of Fredericksburg, Texas makes a terrific home base for exploring the Texas wineries. Independent hotels like the Fredericksburg Inn complete with pool and hot tub are just steps away from Main Street’s independent shops and restaurants. Make sure to put Texas Hill Country on your vacation list, so you can experience these wineries before the secret is out.