EXPLORING THE TEXAS WINE TRAIL
As part of a longer stay in Texas this past July, my husband and I spent three days exploring the fabulous wineries along the Texas Wine trail in Texas Hill Country.
We based ourselves in Fredericksburg, a small town full of German heritage & eateries alongside delicious Texas BBQ food! Only an easy 90 minute drive from Austin, or a 3 1/2 hour drive from Houston, we stayed at the lovely Fredericksburg Inn and Suites just off the main street and complete with a beautiful pool area to relax in at the end of the day.
Fredericksburg Wine Road 290 is an association of Texas wineries along US Highway 290 on either side of the town of Fredericksburg. A total of 17 wineries can be found along this Highway, and the wine growing region here is reminiscent of wine growing regions in Central Italy and the Rhone Valley.
There's a wide range of options for visiting these wineries but we settled for a self drive option with tastings at two wineries, a delicious lunch at another and a bottle of wine purchased from the other wineries that we tucked away for enjoyment during the remainder of our two weeks in Texas.
For those looking to do a tour, Cellar Rat Wine Tours offers great customizable itineraries where you choose how many stops you're after & the exact wineries you'd like to visit and they will package it all together for you. The package will include all tastings at the wineries visited plus lunch... and they even have a food and wine pairing tour that includes a chef paired food and cheese experience along with your wine tastings.
For those looking for a more casual arrangement, the 290 Wine Shuttle runs a loop every 20 minutes between all of the wineries in the area that guests can hop on and off at their leisure. This can be quite an economical way to tick off some of the wineries without having to drive yourself.
Very few of the wineries have much more than cheese and crackers in the way of food, so consider stopping at Grape Creek Vineyards to enjoy their beautiful Stout's Trattoria on site. We made this our lunch stop and enjoyed delicious wood fired pizza and fresh salads while overlooking the vines. They also have the Grape Creek wines available on their wine list and we found the food to be just as good as anything you would get at a Waiheke Island vineyard.
Perhaps the most unique thing about Fredericksburg is their Urban Wineries Trail! Many of the wineries along US Highway 290 also have small tasting rooms along the main street of town. That means that you're able to pop into one of the tasting rooms, enjoy the wine there on offer, or get it 'to go' and continue to browse the lovely stores in town. Public consumption of alcoholic beverages is legal (and in fact actively encouraged in town) and on one particular day with the temperature starting to creep into the high 30's, we enjoyed our take away frozen sangria from Fat Ass Ranch and Winery's Tasting room as we strolled in the shade of the covered walkways between stores.
During our time in Fredericksburg, we visited Grape Creek Vineyards, William Chris Vineyards, Becker Vineyards, Pedernales Cellars and Fat Ass Ranch and Winery. As wine growing in Texas is a fairly new thing, the majority of these Vineyards have only been in operation for ten years or so in their current form. And because of that, we found at most wineries the owners were around and happy to chat about their wine, their land and Texas life.
For those looking for a break from the wineries, head to Enchanted Rock State Park that's only a short drive and offers some excellent hiking trails (short & full day). We actually did spend a day here to work off all the wine and BBQ food!
If you're thinking of heading to Texas (or perhaps looking for a unique stop over if using Air New Zealand to fly via Houston to another USA destination) - I can highly recommend a stop in Fredericksburg.
And if you do go - make sure you try a glass of Grape Creek's 2016 Viognier or William Chris' 2015 Blanc du Bois from - two of my personal favourites from the trip!