Touring 5 of the Best Texas Hill Country Wineries

by Andrew Chalk on March 13, 2019 in Food+Drink, Drink, Travels,
00 Pedernales Cellars courtesy of winery e1551886002140

Some of the state’s very best wineries – in terms of world-class vintages and pure visitor fun – can be found along a compact stretch of the Texas Hill Country within two hours of Fredericksburg.

Here are five that shouldn’t be missed.

Ron Yates Winery, Hye

Saturdays usually bring music by acoustic troubadours and Tex¬as barbecue from a local pitmaster to Ron Yates Winery in Hye, Texas. Courtesy photo

Check out the winery’s Facebook page for a variety of events, ranging from star-gazing tastings to hard-core volunteer opportunities on the bottling line. Saturdays usually bring music by acoustic troubadours and Tex­as barbecue from a local pitmaster. You can also schlep a sandwich out from the rustic-hip Hye Market in town.

Tasting Tips: Among the white wines, try the viognier, sauvignon blanc and albariño. Among reds, garnacha, mourvèdre, and tempra­nillo. And give the cinsault rosé a sip.

Inwood Estates Vineyards, Fredericksburg

At Inwood Estates Vineyards in Fredericksburg, a reserve tasting room is open on Saturdays, when you can also book tastings with founder Dan Gatlin. Courtesy photo

Founder Dan Gatlin has created a Fredericksburg outpost for his urban Dallas winery – a tasting room along with a bistro/wine bar, where cheese boards and bar­becue lunches can be enjoyed with his wines. There’s an outdoor deck and a pet-friendly area called the Grove. A reserve tasting room is open on Saturdays, when you can also book two different special tastings with Gat­lin in attendance.

Tasting Tips: Try Gatlin’s superb tempranillo and tempranillo-blended reds, as well as his exceptional chardonnay.

Pedernales Cellars, Stonewall

Julie and David Kuhlken, co-founders of Pedernales Cellars, a family-owned and -operated winery in Stonewall.
Courtesy photo

This winery pioneered the idea of a “reserve” tasting experience in Texas. By paying extra for its very best wines, the visitor gets service from a certified sommelier in a separate sit-down setting. Paying for this is a no-brain­er if you have flown or driven in from outside the local area. If it’s a Saturday, make a reservation. Weekends also bring live music, and Peder­nales’ weekend grape stomps during harvest draw enthusi­astic crowds. (Estate tasting room reservations requested Sat and for groups of more than six.)

Tasting Tips: Its ripe, lush Reserve Viognier is one of the best of its type from Texas (the 2012 vintage won a double gold medal in France). Also recommended, the Reserve Tempranillo and its grenache-syrah-mourvèdre blend.

Perissos Vineyard and Winery, Burnet

Seth Martin, who founded Perissos Vineyard and Winery with his wife, Laura, estimates shoot-growing potential in a trellis at the winery. Photo Andrew Chalk

Sit around a picnic table and graze on a cheese plate at this laid back, dog- and family-friendly winery where long rows of vines march right up to the big sandstone winery-tasting room building. (Tasting fee waived with three-bottle purchase. Tours by appointment.)

Tasting Tips:Try the roussanne, a rich white wine made from a northern Rhône grape. But the star of the show is the aglianico, a red made from a southern Italian grape that thrives in Texas, whose success here is little known outside the state.

Fall Creek Vineyards, Tow

Sergio Cuadra, Director of Winemaking in Oxbow Vineyard at Fall Creek at Driftwood.
Photo courtesy Fall Creek Vineyards

This was the first winery to grow grapes and make wine com­mercially in the Texas Hill Country, setting some­thing of a template for many that followed. For tastings, it might be wise to make an advance reserva­tion even if you aren’t part of a large group. Fall Creek draws plenty of visitors, especial­ly on weekends — though it is, unlike many Texas wineries, open seven days a week. Check online for festivals, special dinners, chef ap­pearances, themed tastings, craft classes and even yoga. (Tasting fee. Tours and large-group tastings by appointment.)

Tasting Tips: Meritus is a red blend of cabernet sauvignon and merlot. Its chardonnay, Cretenberg Vineyard, is an oaky, creamy wine that shows chardonnay can be successfully grown in the Lone Star state. Then there are Fall Creek’s rewarding grenache-syrah-mourvèdre blend and its distinctive sauvignon blanc.

Cover Pedernales Cellars, Stonewall, Texas. Courtesy photo

Andrew Chalk is a Dallas-based wine writer and wine competition judge. He is the author of the recently published Top Texas Wineries (Great Texas Line Press; $6.99), available at major bookstores and