Repeat clients mean pure gold: they already know they’re in for a great time, and their friends need no convincing. So it was that Sue and Priscilla, who had experienced a Texpert adventure at a wedding a while back, brought their husbands for a special trek during October’s first weekend. It’s wine month in the Lone Star State, and this fact gave structure to an exciting day out.
I picked up the quartet in Georgetown, meeting them in that town’s fine courthouse square. Driving south through Austin, we headed west on the familiar US 290 to our first stop, Bell Springs Winery. Located just north of Drippin’, this is one of the Hill Country’s newest vintners. The young couple who run the store offered my guests several whites and reds in their airy tasting room and sold one bottle.
Off we went south, then west again to take in the impressive panorama of Singleton Pass, one of the best such near Austin. I showed my passengers the old courthouse in Blanco, and we continued up that village’s namesake river. Over another crest, we found our way to the fabled Luckenbach, Texas, on the banks of South Grape Creek in the Pedernales River valley. Here we marveled at the crowds in the post office, heard live music at the Oktober Fiesta, and got lunch.
A short spin along back roads brought us to the Old Railroad Tunnel. Hand-hacked in 1912, this 920-foot bore under Mount Alamo accommodated trains from San Antonio to Fredericksburg until 1942. Once the line was abandoned and the tracks removed, thousands of bats moved in. Texas Parks and Wildlife oversees the property today as a management area and provides viewing areas for the nightly bat flights. Members of my little party hiked down the canyon to see through the shaft to its other entrance. Even though it was nearly noon, we easily perceived those flying mammals fluttering about, silhouetted by the daylight at the opposite end. This is tunnel vision at its Texas best.
Next sipping was at Rancho Pointe Vineyard, another fairly new option. Pleasant place, but no sale here. Heading east got us to Grape Creek Vineyards, one of the most venerable hereabouts. It’s quite elegant and features overnight accommodations in a villa-style B&B. Just next door is Torre di Pietra, a.k.a. Tower of Stone. Here’s where our bunch spent the most time, listening to the lively live music, watching other patrons two-step, and finishing a whole bottle. I greeted my colleague Liz Smith, who conducts wine trips in a vintage WV microbus.
Just outside Stonewall is Woodrose Winery. They also offered in-person musicians and tasty beverages, but received no purchase. Ranch Road 1 led us along the Pedernales through the LBJ Ranch. In Hye was our last wine stop: William Chris Vineyards. Headquartered in a century-old farmhouse, these were the most sustainably produced, hand-crafted, small-batch wines on our entire trip. This establishment makes hay of the fact that they use 100% Texas fruit, grown either in the hills or on the High Plains.
We kept going, drove past the Boyhood Home in Johnson City, and caught US 281, another favorite route through the heart of Central Texas. That way included Marble Falls and Burnet. We parted company back in Georgetown at just about dusk.
In summary: six wineries, numerous historical sites, four river crossings, one wildlife habitat, all creating a full day of scrumptious fun.
How about you? What’s your favorite Texas wine?