This Weekend Trip Tip is inspired by Andrew Chalk’s recently published guide, “Top Texas Wineries.” Chalk is a Dallas-based wine writer and wine competition judge, and says that “some of the state’s very best wineries … can be found along a compact stretch of Texas’ Hill Country.”
At Inwood Estates Vineyards in Fredericksburg, founder Dan Gatlin has created a Hill Country version of his Dallas winery. This location has a tasting room, along with a bistro and wine bar where cheese boards and barbecue lunches can be enjoyed along with the vineyard’s wines. There’s also an outdoor deck and a pet-friendly area called the “Grove.” A reserve tasting room is open on Saturdays when you can book tastings with Gatlin himself. Try his superb tempranillo and tempranillo blends, or his exceptional chardonnay.
At Ron Yates Wines in Hye, visitors can enjoy a variety of events ranging from stargazing tastings to volunteer opportunities on the bottling line. On Saturdays, there’s usually acoustic musicians and barbecue from a local pitmaster. Or, visitors can bring their own sandwich from the rustic and hip Hye Market in town. For fans of white wine, try the viognier, sauvignon blanc or albariño. Their best reds include garnacha, mourvèdre and tempranillo. Also, the cinsault rosé deserves a sip.
Pedernales Cellars in Stonewall pioneered the idea in Texas of a “reserve” tasting experience. Visitors taste its very best wines with the guidance of a certified sommelier, in a private setting. This special tasting is highly recommended, especially for those who come from out of town – it’s well worth the money. A reservation is recommended for tastings on Saturdays. Weekends also mean live music at Pedernales, as well as grape stomps during harvest season. Pedernales’ ripe, lush Viognier Reserve is one of the best of its kind in Texas. Also recommended: the Tempranillo Reserve, and Pedernales’ grenache-syrah-mourvèdre blend.
Perissos Vineyard and Winery in Burnet is perfect for sitting around a picnic table and grazing on cheese and other small bites at this laid-back, dog- and family-friendly winery. Here, long rows of vines run right up to the big, sandstone winery and tasting-room building. Try the roussanne, a rich white wine that traditionally comes from France’s Rhône region. The star is Perissos’ wine from the aglianico grape; it’s traditionally grown in southern Italy, but also happens to also thrive in Texas. Private tours and tastings are available.
Fall Creek Vineyards in Tow, northwest of Burnet, is the first commercial winery in the Texas Hill Country, and became a template that other wineries followed. Reservations are recommended because it draws plenty of visitors, especially on weekends. But, conveniently, it’s open seven days a week. Check its online schedule for festivals, special dinners, chef appearances, themed tastings, crafting classes and even yoga. Its Meritus wine – a blend of cabernet sauvignon and merlot – is worth a try, as well as its oaky, creamy Cretenberg Vineyard chardonnay – it’s a testament that chardonnay can grow successfully in the Lone Star state. Another recommendation: Fall Creek’s distinctive sauvignon blanc.