Wine Wednesday: Four Wonderful Wineries Just A Short Drive From Austin

by Gracie Watt on March 22, 2023 in Food+Drink,

The Texas Hill Country has grown so much over the past few years as a major wine destination. We visited four vineyards/wineries all about an hour or less of a drive from downtown Austin.


#1: Driftwood Estate Winery

Driftwood Estate Winery has a lovely outdoor space overlooking the Texas Hill Country.
Photo Gracie Watt.

Driftwood Estate Winery is a family owned establishment. They planted their vineyard in 1988, making them the first in Hays County, with founder Gary Elliott leading the boom of vineyards in the Hill Country. The Vineyard has 18 acres of grape vines and the Winery produces 10,000 cases of wine each year. Their wine tasting is $25 per person and you get to pick out six wines to try. It is nice being able to select the ones you think you’ll like best. My favorite was the fruity red, award-winning 2018 Lone Star Cab. It earned them a gold medal at the San Francisco wine competition. 

The award-winning, fruity Lone Star Cabernet Sauvignon was our crowd’s favorite.
Photo Gracie Watt.

This winery has a community feeling, as the tasting room is cozy and the staff makes the experience very personable. The outside area has lots of seating and great views of the Hill Country. Driftwood Estate also has charcuterie on any day, weekend brunch and sunset meals from Driftwood Bistro. Only about 40 minutes from downtown Austin, this is a great place to hang out and enjoy some real, award-winning Texas wine.

#2: Bell Springs Winery

Bell Springs Winery has a beautiful outdoor space, with tons of seating, games and live music. Photo Gracie Watt.

Only 45 minutes from downtown, Bell Springs Winery offers a $20 per person tasting where you can set your own pace and walk around with a glass for a while. Out of the five excellent wines on the tasting menu, the 2019 Montepulciano stood out with its velvety tannins. Notes of plum, licorice, and toasted almonds make this wine a delicious choice. 

The food truck on site at Bell Springs offers delicious options like a soft-baked pretzel and crispy brussels sprouts. Photo Gracie Watt.

The venue has live music, great food, and lots of outdoor activities and seating. Here you can hang around for a while with a glass to hear the musicians play or start a game of cornhole. Right next to the tasting room there is a brewery in the owner’s old home. The tap house offers flights, pints, and beer to go. You can chill on the porch swing of the brewery while you enjoy some light bites and shareables like the Texas Brussels or even main courses like burgers, hot dogs and more. 

#3: Duchman Family Winery

Duchman Family Winery has a spacious tasting room with high ceilings. The exterior is a lovely Italian style brick building with ivy on the sides.
Photo Gracie Watt.

Founded in 2004 by Drs. Lisa and Stan Duchman, this vineyard and gorgeous wedding venue is only 35 minutes from downtown Austin. Their tasting offers six wines for $17. Out of all the choices, the 2017 Aglianico was our favorite. This wine “most represents Duchman” and has layers of dried cherry, cranberry and stewed fruit, firm tannins, hints of dry herbs and baking spices. 

Duchman has lots of seating options with plenty of vineyard views. Photo Gracie Watt.

Duchman Family Winery has a great outdoor space with lovely views and it’s not too crowded. The Duchmans remain committed to their goal to produce food-friendly fine wine in Central Texas using Texas-grown fruit exclusively. The service is wonderful and very personable. At Duchman Family Winery, they offer house-made pizzas and more, like charcuterie boards featuring local favorite Antonelli’s. 

#4: Bent Oak Winery

Bent Oak Winery has a homey, comfortable tasting room with family decorations.
Photo Gracie Watt.

Bent Oak Winery is an “urban” winery, as it’s only 20 minutes from downtown and located near other local businesses. They don’t have a vineyard attached to the space, but the winemaker and owner works hard to find the perfect grapes for the wines they serve. Our favorite was the Zinfandel Reserve CA Russian River. This wine pairs well with game birds, veal chops, pork chops and spicy red meat dishes. It’s rich with dark fruit, cinnamon and baking spices, leading to black raspberry and cassis on the palette and a peppery finish. 

We got to tour the barrels that the wine ages in at Bent Oak Winery. They have five wines featured on the tasting menu and delicious weekly food specials. Photo Gracie Watt.

Family owned, Bent Oak feels very homey and comfortable, like you are just sitting in a family member’s living room enjoying some wine. Their tasting has five wines for $20, and they also have some light bites and weekly specials. When we visited, they were serving Brunswick stew. The house-made spicy jalapeno jelly was also impressive. Delysia Chocolatier, the shop next door, made chocolate truffles with Bent Oak wine-infused ganache that they sell at the winery. This venue also hosts fun events such as wine-themed movie nights, with tickets available for all and discounted for members. On April 24th they are having a bluebonnet painting event. 


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Cover photo Gracie Watt

Gracie Watt is a contributor to Texas Lifestyle Magazine and a graduate of St. Edward’s University in Austin, with a degree in Journalism. Watt is also a Lifestyle Producer at NBC-affiliate KXAN’s Studio 512. When she’s not writing, Watt enjoys singing, playing the guitar and doing volunteer work.