A Perfect Pairing: Texas Wineries with B&B’s

by Marika Flatt in Summer 2015

Pedernales_3 bottles on deck

It’s the perfect marriage and the path to the ideal Texas road trip: a B&B winery tour–for your sipping and sleeping pleasure.

BedandBreakfast.com, whose parent company is Austin-based HomeAway, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. It is the most comprehensive site for inspiring, planning and booking bed-and- breakfast properties, throughout Texas and beyond. BedandBreakfast. com was one of the first online vacation planning sites around. They certainly have the history to credential their service.

Fine Wine comprises Brennan Vineyards in Comanche, Bending Branch Winery in Comfort, Duchman Family Winery in Driftwood and Pedernales Cellars in Stonewall.

Jeff Ogle, the general manager at Duchman Family Winery, explained the high bar set for wineries in the group: “Our goal isn’t to be a good Texas wine; it’s to be a world-class wine. The wines in the Texas Fine Wine group compete at an international level.”

The site lists more than 11,000 properties worldwide, helping travelers find and book the ideal B&B or small inn through informative descriptions, photos, and more than 300,000 consumer reviews.

You can even find top picks for various categories. In “Romantic Getaways,” you’ll find their list of top inns both domestically and internationally for you to escape to with your love. There are more than 350 Texas B&Bs listed on BedandBreakfast.com – from the Hill Country and Central Texas to the Gulf Coast, Piney Woods and South Texas Plains. We had fun exploring Rose Hill Manor near Fredericksburg and Meyer B&B in Comfort.

Texas Fine Wine (TexasFineWine.com) is a group of four highly respected wineries recognized for making quality wines from Texas appellation vineyards, delivering excellent customer experiences and setting the highest standards in the Texas wine industry. Texas

Here’s a sample itinerary for your weekend Texas wine tour:

Day 1

Drive to Comfort, visit Bending Branch Winery, stay at Meyer B&B.

Bending Branch Winery is nestled in the Texas Hill Country near Comfort. Founders Robert W. Young and John Rivenburgh planted the first grapes on the estate in 2009. Its caliche soil, sloping hills and elevation of up to 1,630 feet create the perfect spot for Mediterranean and other European grape varietals to thrive.

The 56-acre estate has 20 acres of 16 grape varietals, including malbec, sagrantino, souzão, tempranillo and vermentino, and is expanding. Their signature white and red grapes have been recognized for their intensity, and all Bending Branch wines are fermented in small bins to maximize the extraction of color and flavors.

The estate is organically farmed and sustainably operated, including harvesting rainwater and encouraging beneficial insects to complement the growing season. The winemakers have done vast amounts of research into their craft and continue to experiment with lesser-known grapes and growing methods. The result: award-winning wines.

Their 2010 cabernet sauvignon from Newsom Vineyards won Double Gold in the 2013 San Francisco International Wine Competition, a first for a Texas cabernet. Bending Branch Winery has been named Best Texas Winery by the San Antonio Express-News and was chosen by San Antonio Magazine readers as a top winery.

We tasted the following wines: a 2013 Comfortage and a Thinkers Blend (each $24/bottle) and a 2011 Bella Collina tannat, a 2010 Silvaspoons tannat and 2011 Old Vine petit sirah (each $40/bottle). You’ll surely find yourself going home with at least a few bottles.

There are two tasting rooms, one at the estate and another at Branch on High in downtown Comfort. They are open Thursday to Sunday.

Tastings include at least five wines and cost $10. The fee is waived with the purchase of two bottles. They offer a basic tour for $25 and a more in-depth extended tour with a cheese plate for $40. There are two wine clubs, Founders and Branch, which ship three times a year in March, October and December.

Meyer B&B is a sprawling, German-style B&B that has expanded over the years after acquiring adjacent properties. Now encompassing about a dozen buildings right on Cypress Creek, the B&B has maintained the charm of a Hill Country inn with its peaceful surroundings and simple accommodations. You are treated to a full buffet-style breakfast in the morning and dine on china that you can imagine being used in the area’s historic homes.

Amenities are simple but include free Wi-Fi, an outdoor pool, a hot tub in the back of the property and hammocks and swings along the creek. You’ll also enjoy being a mere block away from town.

Day 2

Drive to Driftwood, tour Duchman Family Winery.

Drive to Stonewall, visit Pedernales Cellars, overnight at Rose Hill Manor.

Duchman Family Winery is an attractive Mediterranean-style winery located just down the road from The Salt Lick in Driftwood. Duchman is one of the producers really concerned about making wines that represent the best of Texas. For them, it’s about making quality over quantity. Duchman is the largest 100% Texas grape winery, with most of their grapes coming from the High Plains area of north Texas. Their Estate vermentino is the closest choice to a creamy chardonnay and that, with the Rosso, are crowd-pleasers from winemaker Dave Reilly. Their 2012 trebbiano white is also a standout.

Pedernales Cellars features the team responsible for creating the Texas Fine Wine group. Owners Julie and Frederick Kuhlken saw the vision and the need to feature old-world tradition mixed with modern innovation when it comes to Texas wines. Their first grapes

were planted in 2006 on what’s called Gingerbread Hill.

The Kuhlken’s 2013 Vino Blanco is a blend of their fruity and floral viognier and chenin blanc, and is a real treat, especially on a hot summer day. Their GSM, a blend of grenache, syrah and mourvedre, is sold at Whole Foods and Specs.

Rose Hill Manor, which is right next to Pedernales Cellars, is just far enough outside of Fredericksburg to feel like you’re in the Hill Country. The center point is a two-story inn, which boasts a wrap-around porch. The plantation style home has four guest suites upstairs and features a library bar and restaurant downstairs. A delightful breakfast is included with your stay and dinner can be made by reservation. The dining really wows at this B&B and is reason enough to choose it.

Rose Hill offers cottages, set apart from the main house, of varying sizes. The Sage Cottage is a two-bedroom/one bath with a full kitchen and dining area, plus a spacious living room. With free Wi-Fi and bedding fit for a queen, you’ll want to spend much more than one night.

Day 3

Visit 4.0 Cellars, drive home.

4.0 Cellars off Highway 290 (and not far from Pedernales Cellars) features wines from three vineyards, including Brennan Vineyards in Comanche. Treat yourself to their Texas Cheese & Wine Experience, which is a one-hour pairing of Brennan wines with all-natural Veldhuizen Farmstead cheeses. We were guided through the experience by wine educator Carl Hudson.

The Brennan viognier (viognier is said to be the current princess of the Texas wine scene) is perfectly paired with the Texas Star cheese; the 4.0 Cellars Lily, a gold medal winner white blend, was the favorite, paired with the Greens Creek cheese; the Brennan Buffalo Roam (60% syrah, 40% mourvedre) pairs well with the Caraway Cheddar; the Brennan tempranillo pairs with the Paragon Reserve; and the Brennan Winemaker’s Choice, sold for $45 in the tasting room and for $118 at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, is paired with the Bosque Blue cheese.