Memorial Day weekend this year was a big weekend and took months to plan. Why? Read on and find out. There have been road trip reports from some Texas Wine Lover writers already for Memorial Day weekend, so it is now my turn. If you missed them, these are the previous road trip reports: Jim Rector, Laurie Ware, and Robin English-Bircher and Sean Bircher.
For the three-day weekend, we spent two full days visiting wineries. Sounds familiar, huh? Our home base for the weekend was going to be in Johnson City, so we decided to spend Saturday of the weekend east of Johnson City. We started our weekend on the way out to the Hill Country in Driftwood. Our first stop was at Salt Lick Cellars next to the famous Salt Lick BBQ restaurant. It had been a while since we had been there, and looking back through our blog posts, it had not been a great ending to our visit with a broken camera. But we persevered and we had a very good tasting with Jennifer where we shared a tasting of five wines for a tasting fee. We always bring an empty wine case with us on road trips and it started getting filled up on this visit!
Across the street was Fall Creek Vineyards at Driftwood. This was the primary reason we decided to stop in Driftwood on the way out as Fall Creek was having a Memorial Day event with a picnic lunch through the weekend with a picnic lunch. Gloria had yet to see Fall Creek’s new tasting room, so that was another plus. We arrived at Fall Creek and were greeted by co-owner Susan Auler. She showed us to the backyard where the second Fall Creek was flowing into the pool. The lower field is eventually going to be a vineyard with Carignan and the front yard will be Cabernet Sauvignon.
We had a choice on where to do a tasting and we decided to stay on the back patio at a small tasting bar since the weather was still nice. There is a tasting fee for six wines and we decided to do two tastings and get 12 different wines since there is a larger selection even more than that. It was tough to select the wines to taste and then it got confusing which ones were poured at the time since some wines were poured three at a time. We enjoyed the Headwaters Reserve Series which is only offered at H-E-B and the winery. After our tasting, we enjoyed our reserved picnic lunch inside the tasting room. It was great to see both owners Ed and Susan Auler again.
Our next stop was going to be Barton Springs Winery which was supposed to be located next to Solaro Estate Winery in Dripping Springs, but I must have totally misunderstood the email that I thought said it already opened at the beginning of May. We drove to where the map said it was supposed to be, but there was still just empty land. Next time!
So we went to our next plan which was the fairly new El Gaucho Winery. We had a great visit and you can read about El Gaucho Winery and their Argentine wines in our previous blog post.
Our last winery for the day was at Hawk’s Shadow Winery. The last time we were there, they had finished the barrel room (no barrels yet at the time) and almost finished with the tasting room and patio. We were looking forward to seeing its completion and we were not disappointed. We did a tasting of new wines, and really enjoyed a couple new wines. One was the Juliet from Alan Bayer Vineyard which was an awesome dry Riesling. Texas is not known for Riesling, but this one was very good. The Patricia Rose was a rosé they made from everything they grow in their estate vineyards—again very good. We took a quick visit to the cellar barrel room and enjoyed tasting a couple wines from the barrel. Hawk’s Shadow Winery is definitely a must stop on your winery visits, not only to enjoy the wine and hospitality, but to enjoy the great view too.
Our last stop after checking into our hotel was our planned event for the weekend, a dinner for all the Texas Wine Lover writers and team that could make it. It had been months in the planning and was held at Bryan’s on 290 in Johnson City. We ended up having 15 total people and the restaurant provided us a nice place in the back room. We brought a five-year vertical of Kiepersol Merlot for everybody to compare. Unfortunately, we only ended up with two glasses per person for the vertical so it was really tough to compare. Robin and Sean brought a vertical of Bending Branch wines to share and Jeremy Wilson fresh from Texas Wine Lover’s winning trip to Bordeaux, France, brought a Bordeaux for everyone to taste. The meal was great, the wine and food were excellent, and a great time was had by all. I think we’re going to have to make a Texas Wine Lover dinner a yearly event!
Each couple at dinner received a bottle of port and enough new Texas Wine Lover lapel pins for each person. You can now buy your Texas Wine Lover lapel pin right here on the website!
We had all day Sunday to do something since we didn’t have to leave until Monday morning, so I had made previous plans for us to visit the upcoming Longhorn Hills Vineyard & Winery which is going to be located in Johnson City. We enjoyed meeting the new winery owners and family and visiting our dear friend Don Pullum, who will be helping with their wines. With the combination of all, we cannot wait to visit when they open! Read about our preview post on visiting the winery.
Next up was an appointment at Lewis Wines. I had met friend Terry and Heather Norseworthy before at a winery near Dallas, but Gloria did not have the opportunity. We discovered we were all going to be in the same area Memorial Day weekend so we made plans to meet up and Lewis Wines was our first meeting place. We arrived at our appointed time and while Terry and Heather enjoyed a tasting, Gloria and I enjoyed a glass of Swim Spot wine since we had recently visited the winery a month prior. The Norseworthys enjoyed their tasting and we left since I had made another appointment elsewhere.
Since it turned out to be too soon for our appointment, we stopped off briefly at Hye Meadow Winery. Once again, since we had been there recently, we had a glass of wine while Terry and Heather did a tasting. I am personally enjoying a glass of wine instead of a full tasting, except if we have not been to a winery recently and there are more wines needed to taste. The young tasting guides took care of us well and it was time for our appointment across the street at William Chris Vineyards.
Upon entering the Hye Society Lounge, we were directed to where our appointment table and room was located. Terry and Heather did a tasting while Gloria and I enjoyed a glass of wine. During the tasting, in came a recent friend, Susan Roberts along with her husband Chris. They live in Lubbock, so it was nice to see her again and meet Chris for the first time. We all had a great time talking, enjoying the wine, and the hospitality of William Chris Vineyards.
Terry and Heather had an appointment at Kuhlman Cellars (can’t go wrong there!), so we parted ways and Gloria and I visited Pedernales Cellars. I think we have enjoyed wine on their patio before, but this time we made sure we did. We chose our wine selections and enjoyed a glass of wine while we listened to the live music. It definitely is a relaxing place to enjoy wine, a view, and entertainment if available.
This was turning into a busy day, but we learned while enjoying a glass of wine instead of a tasting, it does not take as long at the winery. Hence, more wineries can be visited, even if to say hello and buy a bottle or two.
Our next stop was the newly opened Wedding Oak Winery at Wildseed Farms which I posted about. We had been at Wildseed Farms before as it is a fun place to visit, but having a great winery inside now makes it even more of a draw. We look forward to visiting more.
Making our way into Fredericksburg itself, we had to stop by Lost Draw Cellars and say hello and pick up some wines. As usual, we were treated like family, enjoyed the new wines, and filled our case up some more.
It was late for us to make a party event at some friends’ house, but on the way back to Johnson City, Gloria had to stop at Compass Rose Cellars. While there, we happened to finally run into friends Dave and Kelli Potter briefly. Not only are the wines great, but Gloria really wanted to find out about a certain hummingbird feeder. We got the information (we recently ordered the exact same feeder), I enjoyed a glass of wine, and we were off to the party.
The evening ended with some good friends, excellent wine, and food. It was a great ending to another yearly Memorial Day weekend trip to the Hill Country.
Note: More photos are available on the Facebook page, yet another reason to Like our Facebook page.