The Texas Hill Country is famous for its vast open spaces accented by massive ancient oak trees and charming small towns, many with strong German history. Most people visit the Hill Country to enjoy the nature trails, state parks and fresh spring-fed rivers, the arts and culture scene, and an overall sense of peace that wraps you around like a warm blanket on a cold night.
However, there is a thriving Hill Country wine scene that is attracting the attention of wine enthusiasts and serious oenophiles alike. There are over 100 wineries and vineyards in Hill Country, about half located along Texas Highway 290, also known as Wine Road 290, as well as many other scenic back roads.
I've chosen six wineries to share with you because of their great views, atmosphere, and great wine made 100% with Texas-grown fruit. All wines mentioned are available for purchase online.
Privileged information:You will definitely need a car to visit these wineries. There is a driver option to the wineries along Highway 290, but I've included a few that aren't.fredericksburgIt's a good place to stay, just make sure you book accommodation in advance. Probably the best advice I can give you is to try not to visit more than two wineries a day, especially if you're driving. In fact, the places I chose are the kind of places where you want to relax, not rush to the next place. To relax. You are in Texas now.
1. Bend a branch comfortably
Located on a winding country road in the foothills surrounding Comfort, Texas,bodega bending branchwelcomes you to his estate's tasting room with panoramic views for miles. It's the kind of sight that will soon make you wonder if you should have a little place in Texas to call your own.
Bending Branch uses several state-of-the-art production methods, including detent flash and cryomaceration. The owner, Dr. Bob Young likes to say, “Bending Branch aims to produce “the best possible wine, no matter what grapes are grown”. If anyone knows how to get the best sample of wine grapes possible, it's Dr. Bob.
Bending Branch has received national recognition for its wines and tasting room experience: Best Winery in Texas four years in a row forSan Antonio Express-News; Number 3 Best Tasting Room byusa todayReaders' Choice Awards. The wines also won Double Gold at the 2020 Lonestar Wine Awards for Cabernet Sauvignon and Silver for Tannat and Tannat Double Barrel.
And speaking of tannat, a highly tannic red wine that thrives in Texas, in the hands of U.C. Davis Winemaker certification program with a degree in chemistry, tannat becomes approachable, dare I say even smooth?
But be sure to try all the tasting menu options. Tannat isn't the only stellar wine produced by Bending Branch. Although, I'll admit I'm partial to the bright pink tannat, which tasted like strawberry Jolly Rancher.
The Bending Branch is open for tastings by appointment, or you can pick up a bottle in the property's tasting room. At this time, all tastings are taking place outdoors.
2. Pedernales Winery in Stonewall
Pedernales Cavesis a wine estate with 154 acres of oak-dotted hills and breathtaking views of the Pedernales River valley.
By focusing from the beginning on grape varieties that do well in Texas, Pedernales Cellars consistently wins national awards and recognition. His 2017 Texas Malbec won double Gold at the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition, and his 2017 Texas High Plains Graciano won Gold at the San Francisco International Wine Competition.
They have recently completed tasting room upgrades and are expanding their food offerings to include a full-time on-site food truck.
Dogs are welcome as long as they are on a leash; however, they are not allowed inside the tasting room.
Sustainability is an important part of the business and goes from the vineyards to the construction of the tasting room to packaging. Bodegas Pedernales was named one of the top 10 wineries byNational Geographyem 2014.
Pedernales Cellars is located on Highway 290 and is just 10 minutes from downtown Fredericksburg,
Pro Tip:For white wine lovers, Viognier is dynamite.
3. William Chris In Hye
William Chriswas founded by Chris Brundrett and Bill (William) Blackmon, who have recently been recognized bywine enthusiastas "producers redefining American wine". William Chris focuses on producing low-intervention wines, which means they let the fruit speak for itself. They specialize in Rhône varieties such as Mourvedre and Grenache, as well as varieties from Spain, France and Italy.
Located off Highway 290, the property features 6.5 acres of vineyards, tables set up under shade trees and a state-of-the-art facility for wine club members. Picnic lunches are available, as well as a variety of tasting experiences by appointment. However, you don't need an appointment to enjoy views of the vineyards at an outdoor table with a bottle of wine.
Pro tips:Pets are allowed on a leash. Live music every weekend.
4. Bodega Duchman e Driftwood
Named one of the 20 Most Picturesque Wineries in America by HGTV,Duchman Family WineryIt's a beautiful property with an Italian village-style tasting facility complemented by an oak grove that offers plenty of shaded picnic spots.
Duchman focuses mainly on Italian varieties, such as Vermentino, Sangiovese and Dolcetto.
I was curious to try the wines due to my keen interest in all things Italian, even before I learned of their many awards.
However, when I arrived and saw the impressive Tuscan-style building that serves as the tasting room, barrel room and fermentation facility and the sprawling lawn dotted with picnic tables and people with blankets spread out under the trees, I was hooked.
Duchman Family Winery has won numerous awards and even beat the Italians by winning a gold medal for their 2018 Vermentino, an Italian white grape that grows well in Texas, at the San Francisco International Wine Competition. Aglianico is an Italian red wine with dark red fruit flavors and bold tannins that pair well with food. In fact, Dutchman's is unique in offering a variety of food options, many freshly prepared on site.
You can order artisanal pizzas, cheeses and charcuterie, along with picnic boxes that include pimento cheese, macaroni salad or mozzarella sandwiches.
Normally, you can visit the barrel room and other cellar facilities, but for now this is prohibited. It doesn't matter: the best thing about Dutchman, besides the wines, is the location.
The Duchman is open seven days a week until 8pm. on Fridays and Saturdays, making it a great place for a date night. Once a month there is a movie on the lawn.
5. Sandy Road Vineyards em Johnson City
One of the most unique tasting experiences I've had recently was with winemaker Regan Sivadon in a tree house overlooking the vineyards insand road. Not only is Regan making great wine, but the treehouse experience is a winner!
Sandy Road began with a vision to share the fine Texas wines and serenity the owners experienced growing up on their grandparents' 100-year-old estate.
Regan has been in the wine business for decades and is an Associate Winemaker for Ron Yates and Spicewood. And while she loves her work there, Regan wanted to make a product she had complete control over, a wine she could pour her heart and soul into without limitations.
At Sandy Road, the goal is 100% Texas wine made from sustainably and responsibly grown Texas fruits. Be sure to try the 2020 Estate Pet Nat wine made from the first crop of Prieto Picudo grapes in the US. It's refreshing and loaded with ripe fruit flavors and goes perfectly with the treehouse. Read more about Pet Nat wineshere.
Almost all of the wines on Sandy Road are already winning accolades and awards across the country, so you'll want to try everything that's available. The focus is on varietals from southern Italy, France and Spain and producing wines that reflect the owners' sense of place, hard work and passion.
Pro Tip:If you don't feel like going up the stairs to the tree house, you can book a tasting at one of the outdoor tables. Tastings are subject to weather, so be careful.
6. Ron Yates e Hye
Ron Yateshe loves wine, and at his sister property to the original Spicewood Winery, Yates produces an impressive number of wines. Ron was inspired to pursue the family wine business full time after spending time in Spain and embracing the culture of a glass of wine with every meal. Upon returning to Texas to finish school, he recognized that the Texas terrain and climate are very similar to those in the La Rioja region of Spain, and he believed he could grow Spanish varieties successfully. Was he right. Yates became known for his award-winning Tempranillo and Rhone style blends.
A tasting at Ron Yates encompasses fine wines served by friendly staff, either in the modern 6,000-square-foot tasting room, where you'll see an entire wall dedicated to bottles with ribbons and medals, or outside under the pavilion adjacent to the vineyards. .
Try the 2017 Tempranillo that won Double Gold at theSan Francisco ChronicleWine competition. If you're a white wine lover, Yates makes a delicious Albariño (another Spanish grape) and a refreshing Rosa de Grenache that smelled like orange, honey, and roses to me. Yates is open seven days a week.
More about the Texas Hill Country:
- The Best Things to See and Do in Fredericksburg, Texas
- 11 Beautiful Caves to Visit in the Texas Hill Country
- 9 Best Things to Do in Beautiful Marble Falls, TX
- The best things to do in New Braunfels, plus where to eat, stay and be entertained