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Think of the world’s best wine destinations. Napa, Bordeaux and Rioja might come to mind. But did you know that the Texas Hill Country has some outstanding wineries? Yup. Texas. If you’re planning a romantic weekend or girlfriend getaway, consider heading to San Antonio or Austin and then venturing out on the Texas Wine Trail. Here are SheBuysTravel’s top picks plus tips for visiting.
I like wine and I cannot lie.
If you do too and you’re in (or planning to visit) the Lone Star State, you need to know about the wineries. Texas Hill Country wineries near Fredericksburg and the surrounding areas are some of the best in the state. Fredericksburg is a doable day trip from San Antonio or Austin but if you can swing a weekend or at least an overnight trip, you’ll gain a deeper appreciation for everything the area has to offer. There’s also plenty to do if you plan an extended trip. The atmosphere (and the wine!) provide the perfect backdrop if you’re seeking a romantic weekend in Texas or if you’re planning a trip with the girls.
Traveling with the kids? There are many family-friendly things in the Fredericksburg area. Many of these wineries are family-friendly, with outdoor activities. But, if you’re like me and raise your hand for “Mama needs adult time,” you’re going to want to call grandma or time your visit with your kid’s next sleepover.
Read More: The Dreamiest Texas Resorts for Couples
Top Texas Wine Country Wineries to Try
1. William Chris Vineyards
We’ve been coming to William Chris since 2014. It was one of the first wineries in the area we visited when we first moved to Texas. It remains a favorite.
We belong to the wine club there. One of the perks is the intimate seated tastings in the Hye Society Lounge. William Chris is in Hye, Texas…get it? The Hye Society Lounge is a converted farmhouse with many cute and quirky details. The main tasting room and patio areas are also fun.
It’s BYOM — bring your own munchies. There are plenty of places to picnic with lots of room to spread out. Like many other places in this fun wine region, William Chris often offers live music on the weekends.
My favorite is the Blanc Dubois with Mary Ruth being a close second.
2. Hye Meadow Winery
Hye Meadow is THE place for weddings. I’ve never actually been to a wedding here, but the online photo gallery makes me want to crash one. I think I have the right personality makeup to be a successful wedding crasher.
The grounds are beautiful so I can definitely see why a couple would chose this location for a wedding. If you’re looking to have a romantic weekend in Texas, this one is definitely worth exploring.
My pick: Junkyard White
Discovering this French boutique winery was a big win! We spent a weekend in Fredericksburg last fall with friends from Abilene. The four of us decided to hire a private driver to take us around to the different Texas Hill Country wineries.
Yes. You can totally do that and it’s fabulous.
In addition to being a great place for a romantic weekend in Texas or a girlfriend getaway, the Texas Hill Country is a fun setting for an adults-only weekend.
Side note: We discovered this winery thanks to the Stagecoach Tours shuttle driver. Had our driver not said, “Let me call Benjamin and see if we can get into Calais,” we’d have never know this place existed! Calais is tucked away and easy to miss on a drive-by.
We did a fun, unique “tasting in the cave.” I can’t wait to go back and try the more extensive tasting at The Winemaker’s Table.
My favorite: 2015 Cuvee de Gaston Rose. According to the website, it’s sold out. I just happen to have a bottle…lucky me.
4. Zero 815
This is our new favorite place. We decided to stop in spur of the moment and loved the wines. Zero 815 is the wedding anniversary of the owners – August 2015, get it? My husband and I visited shortly after they opened and have this on our short list of wineries to visit again. The owners have added several new wines since our last visit.
My pick: Muscat Blend with the Mourvedre a close second.
5. 4.0 Cellars
4.0 Cellars features three different winemakers: McPherson Cellars, Brennan Vineyards and Lost Oak Winery. Together, the enterprise makes 4.0. so there’s a huge variety. Definitely something for everyone.
The tasting room is somewhat industrial looking but the outdoor seating has a fun vibe.
4.0 switches wines often, so it’s hard to have a consistent favorite. If you don’t find something you love, you probably aren’t really a wine person.
My pick: The Lily Viognier has been my consistent favorite throughout the years, although the taste changes with the different vintages.
6. Grape Creek Vineyards
Grape Creek’s tagline is “Tuscany in Texas.” You can see the Tuscan flair in the architecture. However, the wines are made with Texas grapes. There’s a good good mix of red and white. If I had to pick a favorite, it would be the Viogner. It’s consistently delicious. Disclaimer: I’ve never met a glass of wine I didn’t love at Grape Creek. There is also a delicious pizza bistro on site.
My pick: Aside from the Viogner, I like Cuvee Blanc. The winery also has great sweet reds, if you like that sort of thing.
Although I’m a big fan of this winery, it is has a much less relaxed vibe than other area wineries. There also are more restrictions on when you can visit, whether you need reservations (seems to fluctuate based on the season) and how it handles large groups. I recommend having a careful look at the website before you visit.
The Grape Creek property is also home to Heath Sparkling Wines, which offers a completely separate tasting experience. My husband and I did a tasting and we’d describe it as “upscale.” The tasting room is very sleek and modern and it definitely felt like a luxury experience. We enjoyed all the sparkling wines and what was especially fun about it was the food pairings that were included – don’t get excited – they’re snack-sized portions but it adds a nice touch.
7. Fat Ass Ranch and Winery
“Every ass deserves a glass” is the motto at Fat Ass Ranch and Winery. With a name like that, how can you not stop? There’s a great variety of wines with an emphasis on fruity and sweet, such as peach, watermelon and prickly pear wines. You’ll also find fun, quirky décor and wine-themed gifts.
The owners of Fat Ass Winery and Ranch recently opened up a sister property called the Wine Garage that serves car-themed wine. The Wine Garage is located right next to Fat Ass. Trust me, it’s impossible to miss.
My pick: The white frozen sangria. There’s nothing better on a hot Texas day.
8. Kuhlman Cellars
Kuhlman Cellars is as focused on wine education as it is on wine making and drinking Texas wines. It offers several different tasting/education opportunities starting at $22.50. I loved the atmosphere at Kuhlman. Although it’s obvious that the winemakers take great pride in their product, it’s a very relaxed and welcoming atmosphere, which is typical of most Texas Hill Country Wineries.
You have some options as far as what level of tasting you choose…check out the tasting page to see what might be a fit for you.
My pick: The Estate Rose. This was something of a surprise because I’m not usually a “Rose All Day” gal.
9. Pedernales Cellars
This winery is a longtime favorite of mine, for atmosphere as much as the wines. It has a great tasting room but what really makes the experience for me is the lovely patio that makes you appreciate the wide open spaces in this part of Texas.
Pedernales has a good variety of wine, heavy on the reds. My favorite was the 2017 Diva. This wine is named for a cat who hangs out in the vineyards. I like cats and I have to respect a good Diva. There are several options for tastings listed on the website but there’s not a price listed…unless I’m completely missing it. Most of the area wineries price their tastings between $10 and $25. Read more here.
10. Pontotoc Vineyards
Unlike many of the Fredericksburg area wineries, Pontotoc Vineyards is a true Fredericksburg winery located in downtown Fredericksburg right on the main street. If you’re staying downtown, this is one you can walk to. Although most of the wineries in this area are family friendly (or at least say they are) this one seems to cater to families more than others. I mention this just in case being around little kids while enjoying your wine would detract from your experience. The owner has several young children and it is very much a family run business.
The seating is mostly outside on a lovely, shaded patio. My pick? Sangria, which is unusual because I don’t usually like Sangria at all. This one is a must try.
11. Honorable Mentions
I could literally write pages upon pages about wineries in this area…and then next week, my article would be out of date. The wineries are popping up that fast. Here’s a quick list of other favorites in the area that are popular with visitors.
This list only scratches the surface of what’s available in this area. I’ve given you my favorites to get you started but there are many other wineries to explore. New ones are popping up all the time. If we’ve missed your favorite winery or if you have any questions about the ones we have listed, please leave a comment. Cheers!
Texas Wine Country. Yes. It’s a thing.
You might be thinking, “Wine Country? Texas? Really?” The answer is “Yes.” Maybe Texas brings visions of Lone Star Beer, chili topped with jalapenos and tacos galore. We have all those things and more, but Texas is also home to some very respectable grapes.
Texas Hill Country wineries are popping up all over the place, especially along Highway 290. The Fredericksburg area (includes Stonewall, Hye and nearby Johnson City and Marble Falls) is an easy day trip from San Antonio or Austin. There are many hotels and B&Bs in the area that cater to the wine tasting crowd.
Spanish varietals like Tempranillo grow well in the Texas heat. If red wine isn’t your thing, don’t worry. The area has a good selection of white wines, sparkling wines, sweet wines and more.
Here are some of my favorite wineries in the Texas Hill Country. Please keep in mind that the wine industry is literally exploding in this area and new places are popping up all the time. Staying on top of the new wineries opening up would be a full-time job…and what a job that would be, right?
My best advice on picking a winery is to check out the website and social media to get a feel for what types of wines the winery serves and go from there. Also to note: most area wineries are family friendly and have lots of outdoor seating and outdoor games available.
Tips for Planning Your Best Trip to the Texas Hill Country Wineries
- Try to go on a weekday. If you can’t swing that, check to see if the wineries you want to visit require reservations on certain days. Saturdays are generally more popular for bridal parties. Sundays are normally reserved for wine club members. Check to make sure the wineries you want to visit are open on Sunday. Not all the wineries have the same club Sunday and there are lots to choose from. Don’t worry – you will have plenty of options.
- Decide how many wineries you’re going to visit. Four wineries in an afternoon might not sound like a lot but I think that’s the sweet spot. Five at the very most and that’s if you take an extended, non-boozy lunch.
- Hire a driver. Many of the wineries in Fredericksburg and nearby Stonewall and Hye are located near each other. However, you can’t walk from winery to winery and you’ll need a sober driver. If you have a member of your party who can refrain from drinking, great. If not, take a shuttle or hire a private driver. You can check with the Fredericksburg Convention and Visitors’ Bureau for recommendations. Many shuttles and wine tours leave from downtown Fredericksburg. Some shuttles will group you with other groups and will take a predetermined route. If you want something a little more personal or want to dictate where you go and when you’ll leave, splurge on a private tour. The two shuttle services I have personal experience with are Stagecoach Shuttle Service and Cottonwood Wine Tours. While I recommend both, Stagecoach Tours is a bit of a splurge. The level of service is impeccable.
Jill Robbins is a freelance writer covering lifestyle, travel, health, and commerce. Her writing has appeared in SheKnows, HuffPost, Tripsavvy, Insider, AARP, and other publications.