It can be so hard to focus on the work week ahead when you’ve just had a great weekend with wonderful friends. I’m trying to pretend it’s not in fact Sunday afternoon, but as I sit here reminiscing about the past couple of days and writing this post, the cool central Texas breeze is flowing through our back patio, bringing with it memories of our time yesterday at three of our favorite Texas wineries. There’s just something about springtime in the Lone Star State. A sea of bluebonnets blanketed our path to Fredericksburg like a proverbial red carpet, albeit blue and white. We had the perfect sunny and cool day to spend sipping and catching up.
For the non-believers out there, yes, there is a wine region in Texas and yes, it’s producing some pretty phenomenal wines. For the past few years my husband and I have been traversing the “290 Wine Road” so I was excited to have my girlfriends in town to share some of my favorites with them. Each winery is different in terms of production, varietals, blends, atmosphere, and tasting experience. I would highly recommend these to a first-timer. If you’re a wine enthusiast and you’ve never been to the Texas Hill Country, you’ve been looking for love in all the wrong places. But don’t say I didn’t warn you. There’s a certain magical power this part of our state possesses and it’s easy to fall under her spell. You may never want to leave. So, kick back, prop up your boots, grab a glass of vino and be sure to visit these gems.
Our first stop of the day was at Grape Creek Vineyards. Known as “Tuscany in Texas” this vineyard’s lush grounds, mediterranean style architecture, and towering Italian cypress trees transport visitors to Italy the moment they enter the front gates. You immediately feel like you’re vacationing at a grand Tuscan Villa on this 100-acre estate. To complete the Italian experience, you can dine at the vineyard’s onsite restaurant, Stout’s Trattoria, or pack your own antipasto picnic and enjoy lunching under a canopy of trees. If you forgot to bring food, Grape Creek’s Italian Market, located inside the main tasting room, has you covered with a selection of cheeses, meats, and crackers for purchase. Wine tasting and tours are available, as is a membership to the wine club. This vineyard is also dog-friendly.
As a member of the Grape Creek wine club, I enjoy being able to bring friends and taste at the outdoor members-only area because it’s usually much less crowded. You can also forgo the tasting for a single glass of wine. All of their wines are wonderful (they boast over 200 medals the last two years alone) but my personal favorites are Cuvee Blanc, Bellissimo (a “Super Tuscan” style), and Cabernet Trois. My girlfriends and I shared a bottle of Cuvee Blanc and Rick, our tasting associate, was more than happy to snap some photos of us among the vines. Grape Creek was the perfect spot to start our wine adventure.
Next we visited Hilmy Cellars, my absolute favorite vineyard and winery. I have been a member of Hilmy’s wine club, known affectionately as “The Flock,” almost since its inception. We’ve seen it grow and expand over the years but still maintain its commitment to producing quality wines and providing a laid-back and welcoming atmosphere. I have had the BEST experience every single time I’ve been here. If you’re visiting the central Texas wine country for the first time, I recommend starting here. It’s truly a benchmark for everything an exceptional winery should be. There are many reasons why Hilmy continues to impress me. Rather than using pesticides, Hilmy relies on guinea fowl to help control insect populations, hence the club name “The Flock” and the artfully drawn yet whimsical bird in their logo. Other working animals on the farm include the owners’ beloved Great Pyrenees, goats, cats, and even some very social chickens. The tasting room is chicly industrial in design and quite cozy. My girlfriends and I thoroughly enjoyed tasting with Tom, Program Manager for The Flock, and noshed on some outstanding brisket egg rolls. Yes, brisket egg rolls. Welcome to Texas, my friends. I find the wines here to be quite complex. Opening a bottle of Hilmy wine is like opening the door to a really good memory – you just want to stay in that moment for as long as you can. I also love that there is always something new to taste. Yesterday we tried a Hilmy Malbec for the first time and it was just divine. They also produce an incredible Sangiovese that has become our go-to when we have friends and family over, and I also love their Doo-Zwa-Zo. As this is a working farm, pets are not allowed, but don’t worry. Simon the Great Pyrenees welcomes lots of head scratches.
Our final stop of the day was at William Chris Vineyards, located in Hye. One of my girlfriends is a member here and was able to snag us a reservation, as it is a highly desired destination on Saturdays. Mary, our tasting associate, showed us to a corner table where we proceeded through the wine tasting as a private experience. I really enjoyed this level of personal attention and I was impressed with her knowledge of the wines, having only been working there for a month. Part of our private tasting included a walking tour of the vines where we examined the tiniest of grapes emerging from the vine and learned more about the vineyard’s process, including the use of a large wind machine which helps circulate air through the vines. I couldn’t leave without buying a bottle of the Texas Mourvedre, a velvety medium-bodied red that I’m looking forward to having with grilled pork soon. There is currently a waiting list to join their wine club, known as the “Hye Society,” and William Chris is also a dog-friendly vineyard.
Do you have a favorite Texas winery? Do you have a favorite wine you’d recommend? Cheers!
3 Stunning Vineyards in the Texas Hill Country appeared first on Cathedrals and Cafés.