The Texas Hill Country, prized for its picturesque panoramas, neighborly residents, and pesky armadillos, is also home to a surprising number of acres of lush grapevines and dozens of award winning wineries. Once tentatively budding, the Texas wine industry is now booming with voracity as several new tasting rooms going up from Dripping Springs to Fredericksburg. The accolades are promising with headlines in national publications such as:
“The Texas Hill Country is the New Napa.”
“The Hill Country is the hottest new wine vacation spot.”
While definitely as beautiful as Napa, we think that the Hill Country’s Texas charm and wild rusticity sets it apart from other wine regions. One thing’s for sure: it is a perfect vacation spot for wine and food lovers. Here is a handy summer travel guide that will take you to some of the best establishments that the region has to offer.
If you are coming from Austin, the scenic drive on Highway 290 is a must. First, you’ll reach Dripping Springs, known as the “Gateway to the Hill Country.” There, grab a breakfast pastry or light lunch at Rolling in Time and Dough, a charming little local restaurant that doubles as a bakery. Buttery, flaky croissants, moist muffins, and made-from-scratch sandwiches are just some of the many items that await you there, ready to prep you for a day of wine tasting.
Once you hit Dripping Springs, consider taking one of your first detours south, to Driftwood, TX. We highly recommend visiting a fellow member of the Texas Fine Wine Group, Duchman Family Winery. They specialize in wines crafted from Italian grape varieties sourced from the Texas High Plains (try their Aglianico and Vermentino!). The exquisite, Italian-inspired tasting room, incredible views, and premier wines are just a few of the countless reasons to stop by for a tasting. Hungry again? Stop by Trattoria Lisina, a spacious Italian restaurant that’s a mere walk from Duchman and keep soaking in the Italian vibes. If you have a craving for world-class barbeque, check out Salt Lick and pick up a bottle of their BBQ Red (yes, they make wine, too!) to pair perfectly with your tender brisket.
Well-fed and ready to resume your travels west, it’s time to head back up to Hwy 290. Johnson City is your next must-see stop. Say hello to Jasmine at Stidham Leather Outfitters and pick up a handmade leather belt made by her fiancé, Seth (don’t forget to pet their shop dog, Pearl). While in town, you may as well grab a flight of Texas wines at the 290 Vinery, a family-owned artists’ gallery that also doubles as a tasting room. Allison and her family have done a great job sourcing Texan wines that are not too local as to avoid redundancies in tasting. If traveling has you hungry once more, Bryan’s on 290 is known far and wide for its unforgettable fare. Check out its surprisingly international wine list, one that still manages to pay a respectful homage to the best local wines.
Continue west past Johnson City and you’ll come to Stonewall, TX, home to Pedernales Cellars! A family-owned winery, we pride ourselves on our hospitality, award-winning wines, and stunning views. If you’re visiting on a weekend, you’ll be treated to local live music by one of our rotating artists (check our Calendar page here for more information).
You might want to spend the rest of the day with us. However, if your travels take you further west to Fredericksburg, TX, make sure to stop at 4.0 Cellars tasting room where you can sample wines from another Texas Fine Wines member, Brennan Vineyards. In addition, wines from Lost Oak Winery and McPherson Cellars are poured here. Ask for Carl Hudson to lead you through a tasting.
We are pleased to be one of the pioneers in this region and strive daily to raise the reputation of not just our winery, but the region as a whole. We know that if we exude quality and promote our neighbors, we will all experience the benefits of growth. Go, Texas!