One of the most popular day trips in central Texas, an afternoon at a scenic winery can feel like a romantic getaway in a far more exotic locale.
The winemaking business has exploded in recent years in Texas. Although central Texas was once considered too hot for grape growing, new varieties and new technologies have helped the region become a major player in the industry.
Fall Creek Vineyards
Located just 25 minutes from Austin in Driftwood, Fall Creek Vineyards produces award-winning Tempranillo, Chardonnay and Meritus wines. A mix of mostly Cabernet Sauvignon (97 percent) and a little Merlot (3 percent), Meritus has earned a cult-like following. The deep red wine has a bold flavor with spicy, fruity overtones. Even if you don't know much about wine, the vineyard is still a beautiful place to visit. You can sip your wine in front of the huge stone fireplace or outside by the pool. The vineyard's "wine bites" menu includes small sandwiches, pate, cheeses, and chocolates. If you're still hungry, you can head across the street to Salt Lick BBQ, one of the best barbecue joints in Texas. 18059 FM 1826, Driftwood; (512) 858-4050.
Torre di Pietra Vineyards
Situated amid rolling hills, Torre de Pietra features several outdoor seating areas overlooking the vineyards. The winery also presents live music on a regular basis. Types of wine available include Malbec, Black Spanish, Petit Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. Wine tastings are offered seven days a week. 10915 East US Highway 290, Fredericksburg; (830) 644-2829.
Specializing in Bordeaux and Burgundy varietals, Becker wines have earned a spot on the menu at the White House. The winery’s Provencal wine earned a double gold medal and best rose at the prestigious San Francisco International Wine Competition in 2014. Located on 46 gorgeous acres, the vineyard requires advance reservations for large groups. In April and May, visitors can also enjoy the sensory delight of fields of blooming lavender. 464 Becker Farms Road, Stonewall; (830) 644-2681.
Alamosa Wine Cellars
Creating unusual wines such as Verdelho and Graciano, Alamosa produces grapes that are meant to be grown in warm climates. The winemakers emphasize gentle processing with a focus on preserving the best of the grape’s flavors. Visitors can enjoy a tasting amid antiques in front of a stone fireplace or out on the sprawling veranda. If you don’t know much about wine, ask about the Wine 101 tasting, which includes basic information for wine newbies. The winery’s El Guapo was name one of the Top 5 Texas Tempranillos by Texas Monthly magazine. The wine is a blend of several Spanish wines, including Tempranillo, Garnacha, and Graciano. 677 County Road 430, Bend; (325) 628-3313
Considered a boutique winery, the family-owned Pedernales Cellars is known for its Tempranillo and Viognier wines. Equipped with a winemaking cellar that stays cool in the heat of a Texas summer, the facility prides itself on using sustainable practices. A geothermal system uses water circulating deep underground to keep the cellar cool. Tours are available with advance reservations. Wine tastings are available daily; no reservations required. 2916 Upper Albert Rd., Stonewall; (830) 644-2037.
Flat Creek Estate
Featuring a gourmet restaurant on site, Flat Creek Estate is a true destination winery. The Enoteca is a wine shop and casual eatery that offers light fare to accompany your wine. One of the few Texas wineries making Portuguese varietals, Flat Creek hosts educational wine tastings for those who are serious students of wine. The pavilion can be booked for weddings and other events. 24912 Singleton Bend East, Marble Falls; (512) 267-6310.
The Austin Winery is part of The Yard development in south Austin, just a few blocks from South Congress Avenue. Many of the businesses are “makers” of one kind or another, and they’re all located in a row of refurbished industrial warehouses. A group of friends started the winery in 2014 as first grape-to-glass facility within the Austin city limits. They work with organic farms throughout Texas to source their grapes. The tasting room operates a small kitchen, and no reservations are needed for groups of fewer than 20 people. They make several types of red and white wines here, but don’t expect any sweet varieties. They create the wines they like the most, and they’re not fans of the sweet stuff.