Wine Spectator and other publications have endorsed the wineries of the Texas Hill Country, declaring the area one of the top ten wine destinations in the world. Wine tourists are already flocking to visit the 50+ wineries: the Hill Country ranks as the number two most popular American wine destination, and this area continues to grow. As of 2014, the area is now home to between 500-550 acres of vines (up from 350). There is good reason for all this growth and attention; the Texas Hill Country brings together great events, Texas hospitality, and fine wine.
As of 2013, Texas is nearing 300 registered wineries, and some of the most popular are collected in the Hill Country. Spread out between Mason and San Marcos and from San Saba to Comfort and New Braunfels, the Texas Hill Country comprises a large expanse of beautiful country and terrific wineries. This region is home to some of the most prominent names in Texas wine but is also populated more by small, boutique wineries and award winning tasting rooms from top-tier Texas wineries.
For the casual visitor, this large area and vast array of options may be overwhelming; however, the various wine trails makes visiting much easier. The largest trail – the Texas Hill Country Wine Trail – boasts 40+ wineries that cater to a variety of tastes. Smaller trails -- like the popular 290 Wine Trail, the Way Out Wineries, and the Dripping Wine Trail – overlap this large group as well as host other additional area wineries. And for those looking for something more unique, a number of small, independent wineries also operate throughout the region.
Navigating the Texas Hill Country can be breathtaking to say the least, with hills and dales round every curve. It is these trails that make finding the right winery, and even the right Texas Hill Country Wine Events, part of the fun. The Texas Hill Country Wine Trail dominates the scene. Four times a year, the trail hosts special events: Wine Lovers in February, Wine and Wildflowers in April, and the Holiday Wine Trail encompass two full weeks, while the Texas Wine Month Trail in October is a full 31 days. Ticket holders get complimentary tastings (one to three) at the wineries and discounts on wine purchases. In addition, the trail also has special kick-off parties that bring wine fans into an intimate setting with winery owners and winemakers.
To fill in the gap, the small trails offer some unique events, often including food. The popular Fredericksburg Wine Road 290 has themed trail events where visitors sample food paired with a wine (some of the wineries offer this tasting for free). Past events include Vino al Pastor and Chili and Chillin’. Once embarking on these trails, every taste can find their place.
Visiting these wineries is part of the fun. Most enjoy self-guided tours; these days, there are many apps that help with discovering the wineries, like #TXWinePass (sponsored by the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association) and Texas Wine from Texas Wine and Trail Magazine. But for those desiring a more catered experience, many area companies provide guided tours.
At the wineries, visitors can, of course, enjoy generous tastings, not to mention other amenities. One of the premiere options is the Saturday Library Tasting at Becker Vineyards (advance registration at their site is required). There are also the free luxuries. Many of the wineries provide scenic backdrops for enjoying a glass of wine or even pairing wine with a picnic. One great location is Pedernales Cellars in Stonewall. Recently, National Geographic named them a top vineyard to visit. And on weekends, a number of wineries provide additional entertainment like live music and visiting area food trucks.
Texas prides itself on delivering great hospitality, and the wineries live up to that. Each winery’s tasting room staff is ready to make every visit a memorable one. They are knowledgeable and enthusiastic, quick to share winery and wine info, local recommendations, and plenty of good conversation. In addition, many wineries have wine experts and sommeliers on staff to provide even more info on the wines. Best of all, many of the winemakers and owners can be found greeting and socializing with visitors. The winery families have one goal in mind: to make sure everyone feels welcome and has a great time.
Visitors come to the Texas Hill Country for the wine, and this area boasts many internationally recognized wines. Recently, a group of four international award winning wineries – Bending Branch Winery, Brennan Vineyards, Pedernales, and Duchman Family Winery– have joined together to form Texas Fine Wine. This marketing initiative works to spread the word about Texas wine, hoping to make quality Texas wine available to wine lovers everywhere. They hope to make great Texas wines in Texas restaurants and wine retailers throughout the country.
There is plenty to boast about. Bending Branch earned a Double Gold at the San Francisco International Wine Competition for their Cabernet Sauvignon (sourced from Newsom Vineyards in the High Plains). For two years running, Texas wineries placed at the renowned Concours International du Vin de Lyon (a competition known for setting international wine trends). In 2013, Texas Hill Country wineries won awards for their Viognier (a grape popular in the Lyon region). Pedernales won a Grand Gold, Becker earned a Silver, and Flat Creek Estate took home Bronze. Another local favorite William Chris Wines won three awards – two Silvers for their blend Enchante and the single varietal Mourvedre, as well as one bronze for the Blanc du Bois based Mary Ruth. Add to that Texas’ continued success at many major US wine competitions, like Finger Lakes and TEXSOM – a major competition in Dallas – and some of the larger Texas rodeos.
The Hill Country wineries await and every year more are added to the list. Fun places, welcoming people, relaxing locales, and award winning wine for every taste populate this magnificent destination. For a map showing the location of all of the Texas Hill Country wineries and much more, see the points of interest map on our Kerrville & the Texas Hill Country page. Cheers!