About Texas Hill Country Wines
If you’ve only tasted Texas wines from two or three wineries, you’ve missed some of the most excellent Texas wines.
The Texas Hill Country Makes Great Wines
Made by hand from local grapes, Texas Hill Country wines are some of the greatest in the country. Each tiny batch comes from of out-of-the-way wineries nestled in distant valleys. The best wines rarely reach retail stores. Most are picked up by tourists and a tiny number of local outlets. Discovering the complete variety of Hill Country wines involves a voyage.
Luckily, the trip is to the sweet spot of Texas — the landscape often likened to Tuscany, a place where beautiful oaks shade rocky hills that descend into fresh, spring-fed streams. Local wineries embrace the classic Hill Country architecture. Limestone walls, steep metal roofs, colors and shapes that mix into the surrounding landscape.
Touring the Hill Country wineries is like visiting the Napa Valley forty years ago before their passion turned into a sector. You can still shake the winemaker’s hand, even taste the young wines of the barrel. You can enjoy quiet evening, drinking a glass of fresh discovery while watching the sun go down. As night falls, retire to an ancient stone inn or a rural B&B that provides comfortable accommodation and Texas hospitality.
Newcomers are often surprised by the sophistication of the wines. The best go toe-to-toe frequently at global contests and come away with the medals. Family varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Malbec, Syrah, Tempranillo, Viognier and Sangiovese strut their things. Thoughtful blends combine the strengths of several varietals, producing nuanced, layered wines.
Wine making in the Texas Hill Country is in stark comparison to the industrial manufacturing of wine that dominates the country. Most wines found in grocery stores are anonymous juice produced in millions of gallons of tanker-loads, then shipped to distributors. West-coast wineries have found familiar generic flavor profiles, and their labs offer standardized products. They will place one label on the bottles today, and another on the same wine tomorrow.
Not in the Texas Hill Country.
Visitors will discover some whose products are more to their taste than others. This is as predictable as the variability in the preferences of wine drinkers. There is no question, however, that the overall quality of the wines is consistent and continues to rise.
When you visit a winery in The Hill Country, ask your host about the grapes in their wines and where they were cultivated. Find out if the grapes aged in oak or steel. Ask what they’re growing in their vineyard, and how they’ve been building this year. Before long, you will have a feeling for the winery and its winemaker, you will start to know their wines, and you will begin to enjoy the craftsmanship and enthusiasm that comes into every barrel.
It’s going to take a trip. If you want to taste the Hill Country wines, if you’re going to go beyond one or two on the racks of your local retailer, then there’s only one option: take a tour of the Texas Hill Country. Enjoy the scenery, the restaurants, the inns, and the hospitality, but above all, enjoy a visit to the many small wineries that measure their bottle by bottle.
Texas Hill Country Wines