The Texas Hill Country is an up and coming destination for wine enthusiasts. Quality wine production has been on the increase for several years. In fact, overall Texas is the 5th largest wine producer and 7th largest grape producer in the U.S. Wine has been produced in the state for quite a while but very little of it leaves the state, as Texans tend to be quite loyal and consume the bulk of it. There is a marked focus on Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian varieties as they tend to tolerate the warm Texas climate. So if you get to the Texas Hill Country to do some wine tasting, be sure not to miss these five spots.
Becker Vineyards (464 Becker Farms Rd, Stonewall, TX 78671)
One of the most popular wineries by far (their wines have even been served in the White House), this is a place best visited during the week or when it first opens. Better yet, do yourself a favor and reserve their Library Tasting which gets you behind the scenes access, barrel and tank tastings, as well as a vertical tasting of their single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon which is held in their underground barrel cellar. While they make a staggeringly wide variety of wines, Cabernet Sauvignon is probably what they do best. They also make a pretty good Rosé.
William Chris Vineyards (10352 US Hwy 290, Hye, TX 78635)
“Growing Real Texas Wine” is what defines William Chris, as they are keenly aware that what happens in the vineyard sets the stage for exceptional wine. In their instance, such wines are terroir-driven and exhibit great balance and structure. The tasting room, located in an historic farmhouse, certainly provides a proper Texas welcome. A variety of single varietal wines and blends are available for tasting including Trebbianao, Mourvedre as well as red blends that showcase Merlot. The winery recently released a Pétillant-Naturel (“Pét-Nat”) style of wine made primarily from Malbec and Malvasia Bianca which will tickle your fancy and your tongue. Tastings are available by appointment.
Lewis Wines (3209 Hwy 290 W, Johnson City, TX 78636)
With a commitment to only using top-quality Texas fruit, their small production shows that less is more. Embracing sustainable practices in their own estate vineyards, Lewis really does represent the best of the future of the Texas wine industry. While several wines are made with the star of Texas red wine, Tempranillo, they have begun to focus more on Portuguese varieties including Touriga Nacional, Tinto Cao, and Arinto as well as a couple of French varieties, Alicante Bouschet and Tannat as these varieties ripen quickly and can handle the hot Texas climate. And while the reds are something special, do not overlook the white wines which recently have included Chenin Blanc and Viognier. Tastings are by appointment only.
Messina Hof Winery (9996 US Hwy 290 E, Fredericksburg, TX 78624)
Having recently celebrated its 40th anniversary, Messina Hof has been a mainstay in the Texas wine industry. Owned and managed by the Bonarrigo family, they make a wide variety of wines in a number of styles from dry to sweet and everything in between. With the family’s Italian heritage, Italian varieties take on a special emphasis including those such as Primitivo and Sagrantino. The Paulo series of wines represent the best of the production and are typically limited in production. A recent focus on sparkling wines as well as a nice selection of Port-style wines makes for an interesting and varied tasting experience.
Kuhlman Cellars (18421 US Hwy 290 E, Stonewall, TX 78671)
One of the newer kids on the block, Kuhlman offers an intimate, appointment-only pairing experience inside of its modern tasting room. No crowds to fight here. Five wines are paired with five small seasonal bites and the pairings are spot on. Part of the experience is learning about the “why” of the pairing in addition to the wines themselves. Blends are the name of the game here and they firmly believe in creating a blend that offers the best of each vintage ala Bordeaux. Just don’t forget to grab a jar of their herbed Marcona Almonds.
About the Author: Kat Rene is an attorney by day and a wine enthusiast by night and weekend. As an academic with a love for wine, her desire to learn has drawn her into the world of wine education where she’s constantly seeking to improve upon her own knowledge as well as sharing that knowledge with others. When she’s not giving legal advice, she covers all things wine on her blog, The Corkscrew Concierge, including wine travel and wine & food pairings. Visit her at www.thecorkscrewconcierge.com to see where she’s travelling and what she’s drinking or follow her on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.