12 Top Texas Wineries to Visit

From the Texas Hill Country to the Texas High Plains, the Lone Star State offers top-notch wineries for oenophiles.

By Kyle McCarthy, ContributorMay 23, 2019
By Kyle McCarthy, ContributorMay 23, 2019, at 9:00 a.m.
U.S. News & World Report

12 Top Texas Wineries to Visit

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Texas wineries
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Texas wineries are drawing travelers with their value, laid-back style and small-town charm.

With a climate suitable for growing grapes from Italy and southern France (and landscapes similar to those scenic wine regions), Texas' American Viticultural Areas feature thriving wine tourism industries. Plus, wine lovers will find that vino prices here are a bargain compared to those in popular wine regions like Napa Valley and Sonoma, California. So, pack your cowboy boots, rent a pickup truck, savor down-home country cuisine and embrace the state's Old West style at these must-visit Texas wineries.
Texas wineries
Credit

(Courtesy of Fall Creek Vineyards)

Fall Creek Vineyards: Tow

Ed and Susan Auler are credited with starting the Texas Hill Country wine scene by planting Vitis vinifera vines at their central Texas ranch in 1975. Today, Fall Creek Vineyard's stunning original location on Lake Buchanan (which sits 2 miles northeast of Tow and less than 83 miles northwest of Austin) is known for its peaceful, rural setting and casual European country decor. The vineyard – the oldest in the Texas Hill Country Trail Region – does not produce wine on-site. However, the estate's $16 tasting features wines denoted "THC," which means every variety available here is made with grapes grown in the Texas Hill Country.
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Texas wineries are drawing travelers with their value, laid-back style and small-town charm.

With a climate suitable for growing grapes from Italy and southern France (and landscapes similar to those scenic wine regions), Texas' American Viticultural Areas feature thriving wine tourism industries. Plus, wine lovers will find that vino prices here are a bargain compared to those in popular wine regions like Napa Valley and Sonoma, California. So, pack your cowboy boots, rent a pickup truck, savor down-home country cuisine and embrace the state's Old West style at these must-visit Texas wineries.

Fall Creek Vineyards: Tow

Ed and Susan Auler are credited with starting the Texas Hill Country wine scene by planting Vitis vinifera vines at their central Texas ranch in 1975. Today, Fall Creek Vineyard's stunning original location on Lake Buchanan (which sits 2 miles northeast of Tow and less than 83 miles northwest of Austin) is known for its peaceful, rural setting and casual European country decor. The vineyard – the oldest in the Texas Hill Country Trail Region – does not produce wine on-site. However, the estate's $16 tasting features wines denoted "THC," which means every variety available here is made with grapes grown in the Texas Hill Country.

Duchman Family Winery: Driftwood

At the Duchman family's beautiful Texas Hill Country winery, you'll discover Tuscan-style red roof tiles and stone walls so breathtaking that the property was dubbed one of the most picturesque wineries in the U.S. by HGTV. Grapes sourced from the Texas High Plains are the basis for wines like vermentino, sangiovese and dolcetto. Try six varieties during a standard wine tasting (which costs $15 per person), then enjoy an authentic Italian feast at nearby Trattoria Lisina. Or, pay $50 for a seat on Austin Detours' Salt Lick & Winery Shuttle Tour. The excursion covers transportation from Austin to the famous Salt Lick BBQ restaurant and the Duchman Family Winery. Keep in mind, food and wine tastings cost extra.

Kuhlman Cellars: Stonewall

The winemakers at Kuhlman Cellars credit the creek winding through their Texas Hill Country estate (which is located approximately 60 miles west of Austin) as inspiration for their highly regarded wine. The property's everyday red wine, Alluvé, is named after the estate's alluvial soil, which is enriched by the creek's sediment. Try a glass with the winery's homemade herbed marcona almonds or seasonal bites like roasted garlic hummus and Spanish chorizo. Food and wine pairings start at $22.50 per person, with $5 deducted for every bottle you buy. Visitors rave about Kuhlman Cellars' knowledgeable sommeliers and customized service, so book ahead to ensure availability.

Fall Creek Vineyards: Driftwood

Sample some of Texas' best wines at Fall Creek Vineyards' second outpost in Driftwood. The beautiful estate, which sits less than 28 miles southwest of downtown Austin, serves award-winning sauvignon blanc and tempranillo varieties made with grapes sourced from around the state. The winery's terroir collection highlights the vineyards where each wine is produced. The $20 Winemaker's Choice Tasting experience includes six preselected wines. Accompaniments like chocolate truffles and charcuterie and cheese boards are available for a fee as well. For a luxurious epicurean treat, book the property's two-bedroom Wine Country Inn. The $362 per night charge covers wine tastings for up to four people, and a private chef can be booked for an additional fee.

Bending Branch Winery: Comfort

Situated roughly 50 miles northwest of San Antonio, the 56-acre Bending Branch Winery uses 14 acres of land to grow several Mediterranean varietals, including the flavorful tannat grape (the basis of their award-winning wine). Founded in 2009 by the Young family, the winery incorporates modern techniques (think: cryomaceration and ThermoFlash fermentation) to create bold and balanced reds, which helped the estate win the San Antonio Express-News Readers' Choice Award for Best Texas Winery from 2015-18. Wine connoisseurs appreciate the passion and organic farming that go into these delicious wines, plus the laid-back tastings. Samples of five vinos will set you back $15.

Messina Hof Hill Country Winery: Fredericksburg

Established by the Bonarrigo family in 2011, this Fredericksburg winery offers more than 50 wines in its tasting room. The nearly 10-acre property is home to the Manor Haus B&B, a bed-and-breakfast establishment with four uniquely furnished, rustic-chic cottages. Sleep among the scenic vineyards of lenoir grapes after spending the day hiking, biking and swimming in the on-site river. The nightly rate, which varies by accommodation but starts at $121, includes a bottle of sparkling wine and a full breakfast. Families can arrange a private tour featuring food paired with four wines or grape juice for $28 per person.

Spicewood Vineyards: Spicewood

Spicewood Vineyards (only about 35 miles northwest of Austin) attracts everyone from day-trippers and travelers with pets to bachelorette parties and couples tying the knot. Visitors note how relaxing the tasting experience is on the winery's outdoor patio, where you can try cheeses and sip a glass of The Good Guy (a popular tempranillo blend) while gazing at peaceful vineyards. Spicewood's vinos incorporate several grape varieties grown on-site and at other Texas vineyards, including sauvignon blanc and chardonnay. Wine tastings at the 32-acre property are available every day, though appointments are required on Mondays and Tuesdays. Tastings range from $15 to $30 per person, depending on the wines sampled; buy a cheese plate or bring a picnic lunch.

Becker Vineyards: Stonewall

Surrounded by lavender fields like those found in France, the Becker Vineyards estate produces fine Bordeaux-, Burgundy- and Rhone-style wines that have been served at the White House and the James Beard House (a New York City dining venue with ties to the James Beard Foundation). For the ultimate experience, try Becker's $35 Art of Food & Wine tasting, which features five wines paired with five small bites and is available Friday through Sunday. There are also $20 walk-in tastings available daily at the winery and its Main Street Tasting Room in Fredericksburg. Active members of the military who show a valid military ID can enjoy free tastings.

4.0 Cellars: Fredericksburg

Several tour operators host outings from San Antonio or Austin to the Texas Hill Country's 50-plus wineries, but you can sample four at one stop by visiting 4.0 Cellars in Fredericksburg. This unusual winery is a collaboration with Brennan Vineyards, Lost Oak Winery and McPherson Cellars. In addition to serving vinos from all three well-known estates, the property offers an experimental blend that combines grapes from the 4.0 vineyard and others throughout the state. Tastings on the patio, on the lawn or in the modern tasting room include both single varietals and blends. Standard tasting experiences cost $15 per person; upgraded offerings with local cheese or chocolate pairings are available as well.

Llano Estacado: Lubbock

The state's first vineyard isn't located in the Texas Hill Country; it's situated about 120 miles south of Amarillo in the Texas High Plains (an area that boasts more than half of Texas' vineyard plants). Llano Estacado put the region's American Viticultural Area on the map with its high-quality wines, such as a tempranillo blend and an award-winning Viviano-cabernet sauvignon variety. The winery's large, busy tasting room (which welcomes oenophiles every day except Monday) is staffed by knowledgeable Texas Tech University students. Each 15- to 25-minute tour is free to enjoy, while tastings cost $10 to $15 per person.

Messina Hof Winery & Resort: Bryan

Messina Hof Winery & Resort – which sits about 100 miles northwest of Houston in eastern Texas' Brazos Valley area – was founded more than 40 years ago by the descendants of an Italian winemaker. Today, the winery and its two sister locations produce 130,000 gallons of wine annually. Try the award-winning Paulo sagrantino variety and the private reserve petite sirah, which features rich notes of cherry, plum and black pepper. Elevate your visit with a stay at the property's romantic Villa Bed & Breakfast. The $165 to $320 per night fee covers a winery tour, a tasting, an evening reception and daily breakfast.

Urban Wine Trail: Grapevine

Although the wild mustang grapes found by homesteaders here in the 19th century were only good for making jam, Grapevine has grown to become a top wine destination in Texas. The city, which is conveniently located approximately 20 miles away from Dallas and Fort Worth, is home to the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association, plus a variety of wineries that are part of its Urban Wine Trail. Park the car to check out seven of the trail's tasting rooms inside some of South Main Street's historical buildings. For additional wine tastings and activities, arrive in mid-September during GrapeFest. The annual event showcases more than 150 varietals from dozens of Texas wineries.
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Kyle McCarthy, Contributor

Kyle McCarthy is the author of a dozen Frommer guidebooks, contributor to many publications, ...  Read more

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