Having tasted at almost 100 wineries throughout Texas, my wife Phyllis and I are always eager to add new wineries to our list. An extended Father’s Day road trip to Fredericksburg provided us the opportunity to add six more wineries to our “first time” list. And, as retired educators, that road trip and those wineries provided us with additional lessons that benefited us and may help others as they visit Texas wineries in the future.
With new wineries opening faster than updated maps and brochures can be printed, we depend on Texas Wine Lover and other social media sites to stay up-to-date on wineries to visit. We planned our visits for the first five days of our trip to group the new wineries we would visit, along with the ones previously visited, where we would be picking up wine club allotments.
We have tasted numerous Texas wines made by various wineries using fruit grown by the Seaton/Furgeson families at Farmhouse Vineyards. Thus, the tasting inside the Airstream trailer enabled us to enjoy the fruit that the Seaton/Furgeson families keep for themselves. The wine quality and welcoming spirit we found at the “Tipsy Trailer” encouraged us to respond positively later in the week to a social media plea from Katy Jane Seaton to transport a case of Farmhouse wine to Bellville for the 1st Annual Bellville Wine-A-Thon on our way back to Humble.
The 290 Vinery tasting impressed us with the variety of labels available – not just from the host winery, but also from other Texas wineries (Valley Mills Vineyards, Escondido Valley, Fly Gap Winery, Val Verde Winery, and Farmhouse), as well as from wineries in the Pacific Northwest, Italy, and Chile. We also found that same “sharing spirit” that is most prevalent among Texas wineries at the new Vintners Hideaway in Fredericksburg where owners Jim and Ranae Mills also feature enjoyable wines produced by Rivenburgh Wine, Buena Suerte Cellars, and 1851 Vineyards from various Texas vineyards.
Our first day also included a stop at the new Horn Winery in Hye. Since we were aware that June 16 was that winery’s “grand opening,” we ensured that we would “not be lost in the crowd” by scheduling a tasting appointment. As a result, we enjoyed a most informative visit with the wife of General Manager Brandon Bownds. As we enjoyed the musically-themed wines produced from Paso Robles fruit from California, we learned that wines produced from Texas fruit are in the future plans.
A feature at the Horn tasting that we have not experienced at any other winery was the opportunity to write tasting notes for each of the Chardonnay, Rosé, Merlot, Petit Verdot, 50/50 blend, Bordeaux-style, and Cabernet Sauvignon wines we tasted. We left those notes with the winery for its use in creating descriptors to aid future wine tasters.
Father’s Day enabled us to add Saint Tryphon Farm & Vineyards to our “first time” list. Owner Silouan Bradford focused on “natural” and “minimal” processes in the production of his 100% Texas wines. Again, a tasting appointment was very valuable as we drove from the eastern edge of Gillespie County to the winery about three miles south of Sisterdale.
Aware from a Texas Wine Lover post that Texas Heritage Vineyard had opened in April on Highway 290 on the eastern edge of Fredericksburg, we made an unplanned June 18 stop there for a “first time” taste in the former Yee Haw Outfitters building. Owner Susan Johnson assisted us with tastings of the excellent Tempranillo, Malbec, Merlot, Malvasia Bianca, Roussanne, Orange Muscat, and Rosé wines produced by winemaker John Rivenburgh. The tasting room provided a wonderfully comfortable view of the rolling land that leads to the estate winery south on Grapetown Road toward Alamo Springs Café.
As we tasted at 20 Texas wineries/tasting rooms from June 16-20, we congratulated ourselves on scheduling our Fredericksburg trip at a time that allowed most of those tastings to be “private.” Tasting room staff informed us that the Father’s Day weekend was less busy than other holidays and weekends. Also, tastings on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday at open wineries enabled us to have the full and unhurried attention of tasting room staff.
While an extended trip to wine country certainly increases the cost of a vacation, a car trip to Fredericksburg is certainly cheaper than airfare to taste at wineries on the West Coast, Europe, or South America. Wine club memberships at six wineries enabled us to enjoy complimentary tastings and/or glasses leisurely while saving shipping costs by picking up club allotments. And staying Sunday through Wednesday at the clean, quiet, and inexpensive Econo Lodge in Fredericksburg enabled us to use our teacher pension funds more for wine and less for lodging.
All in all, the wine we enjoyed and the people with whom we interacted made this trip priceless!