Texas Hill Country Wineries
Any recommendations for wine tasting in the hill country? This will be our first time wine tasting outside of the Pacific NW. Thanks!
Until recently, I lived in TX for a long time, tasted a lot of TX wine, and enjoyed it very rarely. Wrong climate plus wrong soil makes mediocre wine. Only once did I have a wine comparable to a Beerenauslese: the 1990 Angel Fire. My recommendation would be to focus on the BBQ, which is superior to all others anywhere.
I would overall agree with your statement of Texas wines (and I am from Texas and might be reprimanded for such comments). However, I was alluding to the review of the region in F&W magazine being "pretty nice" without mention of the quality of the wines. I think one problem with the wines in Texas is that you don't generally find good QPRs no matter how decent some of the wines may be.
The Becker Viognier is the only wine I've ever had from Texas (lived in Austin for 4 years) that was actually grown and produced there that I would drink again on purpose. Beware there are Texas "producers" whose grapes come from other places. The Hill Country is beautiful and if you go out that way, do also check out the Salt Lick Barbeque and quaint little town of Fredricksburg. But don't plan on drinking too much good wine.
While there are 5 (too lazy to double check) AVA's approved in Texas and the Hill Country likely has the most potential, for the most part the wrong grapes are planted in the wrong place. Vineyard owners were drawn towards planting varietals that had a better chance of selling, but a dismal chance of growing great--even good--grapes. The climate is messy with the biggest problem being very very warm nights in the middle of the summer. Even if you avoid crazy plains thunderstorms and hail all during the growing season and frost in the early fall, Texas heat in the summer almost always get you.
Thank you so much, all of you.
We aren't expecting wine greatness; we're wine geek enough to put the climate and marketing to tourist thing together. But our whole trip is about BBQ and just seeing a new part of the country, and I thought "oh, what the hell, let's see what kind of wine they make in Texas!"
It's always fascinating to see what kind of fermented beverage is made in a place, ya know? (Douglas Fir tree eau de vie in Portland OR, for instance!)
So it's helpful to hear who to avoid and who is at least passable.
Well you certainly won't have any problem finding Texas wines in the area. Texas consumers are very provincial and most restaurants have at least a few local wines. Grocery stores have whole sections. While you are at it, don't miss the Whole Foods flag-ship store (the chain was started in Austin) at the corner of 6th and Lamar. The BBQ place in the store has actually been getting some good reviews from the locals and the place is one of a kind. Then go to one of the Central Market stores done by HEB and compare and contrast--there are two in Austin.
The Texas HIll Country has wineries making both new world and old world wines. Check out the links below for two side of the Texas wine coin:
Old World Texas Wines:
New Worl Texas Wines:
This part of Texas gives the complete wine country experience with wineries relatively close (you can hit 6-12) easily in a weekend depending on how much time you want to spend tasting and touring. It also has great B&Bs and a growing list of remarkable gourmet restaurants.
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See the results of the 2009 Lone Star Wine Competition that was held last week in (whereelse) Grapevine, TX.
Last week, I blogged about my trek across the highways and byways of Texas from Houston up to Grapevine, Texas: An appropriate place to judge a wine competition. The blog notes my reflections on Texas terroir and my mental preparations assessing shades of arboreal green in the Texas roadside scenery, at: (http://vintagetexas.com/blog/?p=865). The wine competition was the 2009 (26th annual) Lone Star International Wine Competition (LSIWC).
In the LSIWC, nearly 500 wines from around the world were judged in over thirty categories by a panel of restaurant owners, sommeliers and other wine experts from Texas. I guess that yours truly fits the latter category although I did successfully pass my first level Sommelier exam. The co-chairs that organized and oversaw the LSIWC were Barbara Werley, M.S., Pappas Brothers Steakhouse’s Master Sommelier and Beverage Director, the first Master Sommelier in the 26 year history of the event; and Michael Zerbach, long time chair of the event and winner of the John E. Crosby, Jr. Award for his achievements in increasing the stature and visibility of the Lone Star Wine Competition awarded by the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association Board of Directors.
Interestingly enough, the LSIWC is four, four, four competitions in one…. a Texas Competition, an International Competition, and a Limited Production Competition. In the spirit of the local wine movement (www.drinklocalwine.com), wines qualifying for the Texas Competition must be 75% volume from Texas grapes. Additionally, for the first time the forth facet of the LSIWC included a Rising Star award for the best showing by a young Texas wineries in red and white wine categories.
Texas Grand Star Winners
Fortified Wine – Haak Vineyards & Winery (www.haakwine.com), Madeira Blanc du Bois 2006
Red Table Wine – Driftwood Estate Winery (www.driftwoodvineyards.com), Lone Star Cab 2006
White Table Wine – Grape Creek Vineyards (www.grapecreek.com), Viognier – Lost Draw Vineyards 2008
More results and insights into the judging process at: http://vintagetexas.com/blog/?p=894
second the motion on Flat Creek - good wines, great scenery. By the way, you can spend the night at Flat Creek. There is a studio apartment you can rent; the kitchen is great. We passed a birthday there recently. We stopped by Louis Mueller's on the way to the winery, than ate the world's best BBQ and chased it with some outrageous vino.