Editor’s Note: The following article on visiting the Best Texas Hill Country Wineries is part of our travel guide series. A series of travel guides aimed at exposing hidden beauty and affordable things to do at unique destinations.
Why It’s Worth Visiting Texas Hill Country for Wine Tasting
From finely tuned Tempranillo, crisp Viognier to beautiful rhone-style red blends, Texas Hill Country Wineries are not only situated around beautiful scenery, the wines they’re producing are only beginning to gain world-wide recognition. That’s because the majority of Texas Hill Country vineyards only sell their wines within Texas – otherwise the Texas wine bug would have gone viral long ago.
That’s why I’m aiming to expose this juice. It’s a relatively new revelation for many, but Texas Hill Country was largely overlooked until the past few years. (It wasn’t until the early 1990s that much of anything was produced here). The region is still one of the last places newbies would think of for producing fine wine.
But did you know that now the Texas Hill Country AVA is the second largest AVA in the U.S.? At over 9,000,000 acres, and with a climate and terroir not unlike Rioja, Spain or Southern Rhone, France, skilled Vintners are discovering the power the Earth holds within the Texas Hill Country region.
Navigating Texas Hill Country on Wine Road 290
Today we’re going to take a look at a stretch of road that leads through the picturesque region of Fredericksburg, Texas. That stretch of road is aptly named Wine Road 290. The whole area is unique in that many of the vineyards and wineries are a part of the Fredericksburg Wine Road 290 association. Thus, what benefits one winery benefits another, as many are located literally right next to one another. Making a day trip to the region incredibly convenient.
Below, we’ll highlight four of our favorite Texas Hill Country Wineries. From East to West, a perfect itinerary of wineries to visit that any wine enthusiast or group can enjoy without breaking the bank. We’ll start in Stonewall.
Best Texas Hill Country Wineries
Only about one hour and 30 minutes Northwest from from downtown Austin, Wine Road 290 in Fredericksburg can be easily accessed by hopping on Mopac (TX-1), and then merging onto US 290 – West.
How many wineries should I visit?
That depends on the tolerance of your group. Things to keep in consideration:
- If you’re drinking and driving – don’t overdo it
- Begin your day in the late morning on a full stomach — by 11 AM most wineries are open
- Plan your Texas Hill Country wine tour for a weekday — fewer crowds
1. Pedernales Cellars – First Stop
Did you know Texas Hill Country is an up and coming Viognier growing area? Elevated, sunny, windswept, limestone hillsides provide ideal growing conditions for stubborn grapes like Viognier. Some Vintners here have really begun to fine-tune their craft and produce refreshing white wines. While the whites are great, my favorite red in all of Hill Country came from Pedernales.
Pedernales Cellars makes for a great first stop for a wine tour in Fredericksburg because it will leave an impression on you. This is an award winning winery, with a beautiful patio that offers 360 degree views of the surrounding hill country, frequently backed by live music. Adding a bit of an Austin-esque feel to this remote and flavor prone property. Don’t be shy to roam the property! Grapes are sourced from multiple vineyards within the region, and as I mentioned above, their GSM red blend is my favorite red wine thus far in all of Texas Hill Country. Tastings do not need to be scheduled in advance.
Tasting Size: 5 or 6 pours depending on year
Tasting Fee: $15 (Reserve room $25)
Perks: Free souvenir wine glass with tasting and fee waived with case purchase
Contact: 2916 Upper Albert Road, Stonewall, Texas – Visit the Pedernales Cellars Website
Becker is a bit more mainstream (now producing around 1.3 million bottles annually) and has a few other… attractions associated with the property. If you time your visit in either May or June, there’s a good shot you’ll get to see a sweeping lavender field not far from the tasting room. The beginning of summer is also peak season so it can get somewhat crowded. Try to plan your visit during the week. Checkout a virtual tour of the Becker tasting room and property. On-site tours typically run every 30 minutes on weekends.
If you’re looking to stay in wine country a little bit longer, Becker has a Bed & Breakfast adjacent to the property, for around $125 per night.
Tasting Size: 6 pours
Tasting Fee: $12
Perks: Take-home big basined wine glass
Contact: 464 Becker Farms Road, Stonewall, Texas – Visit the Becker Vineyards Website
3. Torre di Pietra Vineyards – Third Stop
Next stop and just up the road – Torre di Pietra offers a boutique winery style from the outside, and an intimate inviting experience on the interior. This is a family run venue that offers Tuscan-inspired vines and flare. Active military members are given free tastings. Don’t be shy to try some of the blends, especially the Red Flirt, Dirty Girl. their Riesling and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Feel free to bring a pet along to Torre di Pietra – they’re permitted on the grounds and in the tasting room as long as they’re on a leash. You can also catch some live music out on the patio over the weekend. Reservations are required for wine tastings — call 830.644.2829!
Tasting Size: 6 pours
Tasting Fee: $15
Perks: Free souvenir wine glass
Contact: 10915 E. Highway 290, Fredericksburg, Texas – Visit the Torre di Pietra Website
Grape Creek winery is another Italian styled winery located pretty much next door to Torre di Pietra. If you’re following along with this itinerary, this will likely be your last stop for the day. Be confident in your decision – Grape Creek Vineyards has snatched up over 100 medals over the years with their wines. Done in a Tuscan architectural style, the buildings on the property are primarily made of stone with classic red roofs. Prices vary depending on when you visit. Weekday tasting are $12, while Saturday’s and holiday’s are $15. Try the 2012 Bellissimo and the 2013 Cabernet & Syrah blend.
Tasting Size: 6 pours
Tasting Fee: $12 Weekdays, $15 Saturday’s / Holiday’s
Perks: Free souvenir wine glass
Contact: 10587 E. Highway 290, Fredericksburg, Texas – Visit the Grape Creek Vineyards Website
Duchman Family Winery – Add Either a First or Last Stop
Depending on where you leave from in Austin, if you have a little extra time, or, would rather split your Hill Country wine experience with both Fredericksburg and Driftwood (about 30 minutes Southeast of Fredericksburg), head on downtown Duchman Family Winery to enjoy their beautiful stone tasting room and very friendly staff. The Duchman property is beautiful, but this winery also has an Italian restaurant conveniently located next to the tasting room.
The majority of wine styles produced here are Italian, and the tastings are by far the most affordable in the area. Definitely try the Aglianico, our favorite on the menu!
Tasting Size: 6 generous pours
Tasting Fee: $10
Perks: Self guided walk and sip tour of the facility
Contact: 13308 Ranch to Market Rd 150, Driftwood, TX 78619, – Visit the Duchman Family Winery Website
New Wineries and Vineyards are Coming!
Texas Hill Country is rapidly expanding, with new wine makers popping up every year. Have you visited Texas wine country before? Let the community know about your favorite vines below.
Texas Hill Country Map along Wine Road 290 courtesy Texas Wine Trail.