About five million people visit the more than 37 wineries in the Texas Hill Country every year. One of the best times to visit is during one of the four times a year when the wineries plan special wine trails and events. The trails are self-guided tours for customers to visit the various wineries, where they offer special tastings of newly released wines, as well as demonstrations and tours. Apart from the award-winning wine, visitors also come for the food at a variety of restaurants in the area that pair well with the different varietals being served. These five wineries are just a few on the trail that pour some of the tastiest wines in the area.
The 80-acre Flat Creek Estate all started in 2000 with an April Fool’s Day planting that included 60 people, 6,000 plants and six hours. The vineyard has since grown from the six acres that it started with to 20 acres, which produce varietals such as Shiraz, Sangiovese and Pinot Grigio, to name a few. The winery’s Flat Creek Estate Super Texan 2003 was the first Texas red wine to be awarded a double gold in the San Francisco International Wine Competition. The estate features a tasting room, as well as a bistro restaurant that serves dishes that pair well with the onsite, crafted wines. Guests can try the award-winning wine in the tasting room or in The Bistro, where the Flat Creek gumbo, made with smoked chicken, pork sausage and green spice shrimp, is an excellent suggested pairing.
The Bending Branch Estate is situated on 56 acres near Comfort, Texas, which was settled in 1840 by immigrants largely considered to be Freethinkers. The estate’s original small cabin, well house and barn are still incorporated into the property, where guests can come to taste some of the winery’s best wines. The first vines were planted in 2009 on seven acres of the land, which are now grown on 20 acres and comprised of 16 varietals. The boutique winery uses sustainable practices to make its award-winning wine.
Grape growing started as a hobby for the Perissos family in their Austin home in 1999. That hobby influenced the establishment of the estate vineyard, where the owners built a winery and barrel storage facility, which resembles a traditional Texas barn. The vineyard is known for the quality wine grapes grown in decomposed granite soils, and it is the only one in the Texas Hill Country to do so. The wines are hand harvested on site, which is more expensive but prevents leaves, bugs and other unwanted materials from polluting the wines, and is also gentler on the fruit.
For more than 20 years, Becker Vineyards has been bringing quality wines to the Texas Hill Country. The winery farms more than 87 acres of vines, 46 acres of which are located on the estate, while the two additional vineyards reside in San Angelo and Mason. The original homestead log cabin from the 1890s is still located on the estate and serves as a private event space, while the tasting room has a welcoming verandah, which serves as the perfect spot to taste wines in the summer months. True winos will want to experience the Reserve Wine Library in the barrel cellar, which houses the vineyard cabernet sauvignon program that includes a tour of the production area as well as a wine and cheese pairing. The estate also houses three acres of lavender fields used in the Becker Vineyards lavender bath products.
The limestone campanile or bell tower stands at the entrance to Grape Creek Vineyards, which guests have to take a gravel road to to reach the rustic villa that makes up the tasting room. Add to the mix oak-shaded patios, fountains and acres of grapevines stretching into the distance, and the setting resembles a scene from Tuscany, Italy — hence the winery’s slogan "Tuscany in Texas." Guests can stop in for a tasting or grab some picnic items from the Italian Picnic Market, which sells cheeses, flatbread, salamis and olives. Guests can also try some of the delicious grape seed oils, mustards, vinegars and dessert sauces that pair well with the wines...