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Celebrating Texas Wine Month

in Hill Country

Did you know Texas has the second biggest wine region outside of California?

Around our great state dozens of varieties of grapes of are grown, from Tempranillo to Mourvèdre, and the wine they produce is good!

So good it’s not only held its own against the better-known California wines, but won acclaimed blind tasting contests from San Francisco to Paris.

But, don’t take our word for it. There are more than 100 wineries, vineyards and tasting rooms in Texas Hill Country, at least half of them barely more than an hour outside of Central Austin, where you can explore and taste for yourself. 


October is Texas Wine Month and a perfect time to hit the road and try some Texas wine for the first time, or go back and see what’s new in the burgeoning market where master winemakers like William Chris Vineyards Tony Offill are constantly mixing up new blends to please any palette. Offill told us (and showed us) that at William Chris they ferment the grapes in oak barrels, stainless steel vats and cement eggs. Sometimes they thread together grapes from each to create especially unique blends.

During a recent day trip from Austin to Hill Country the only stressful spot in an otherwise delightful day was that we couldn’t explore even more. While we set out with an ambitious itinerary that included visiting several vineyards and some bourbon at the Garrison Brothers Distillery, the three hours we spent soaking in the wonders and history of William Chris Vineyards cut our day’s tasting experience down to two spots, which are shared here, and provided many reasons to return to Hill Country again. And again.

If you set out early you can grab a coffee and pastry at Rolling Thyme and Dough, and if you’re particularly ambitious, walk up Enchanted Rock on your way to Hye. 

Once we were ready for our first wine of the day it was early afternoon and we started at William Chris, one of Hill Country’s better-known vineyards.

Walking in you’re greeted by a glass of white and spectacular views. William Chris’s founders William ‘Bill’ Blackmon and Chris Brundrett, both veteran winemakers, came together and purchased the historical Hill Country property in 2009 (after creating their first vintage together in 2008) and they’ve been building upon it ever since, while still respecting the rich history of the land and refurbishing longstanding structures like the 1905 farmhouse. The farmhouse opened in 2010, served as the property’s first tasting room and is still where groups gather to sample wine. The vineyard’s newest and most modern addition is a tasting room exclusively for their Hye Society members, providing another temptation to join their popular wine club, the Hye Society Club. In addition to access to the Hye Society Tasting Room and a complimentary tasting for up to four people each visit, so many people join the Hye Society Club because additional member perks include:

-Invitations to members-only release parties

- First access to paired wine dinners on the Hye Estate throughout the year (where we hear they serve things like Apple Pie Milkshakes – made by putting entire apple pies into a blender! Yum.)
-Six special releases per year and the ability to purchase limited production, member-only wines.

- The option to receive their Magnum Release twice per year

Membership costs range from $150/month + shipping to $490 for the Case Club, which includes 12 bottles each month and free shipping.

Also novel to William Chris are their regular rotation of bottles to benefit various local charities (currently the Wanderer Series Relief Project II to benefit Feed Texas) and the Artist’s Blend, which features a label from an artist who entered an annual contest for the honor – which also takes place in October! If you or someone you know is interested in vying for the label of the next Artist's Blend bottle (and having your work displayed at the vineyard), submissions are being accepted beginning October 1 and throughout the month. To learn about rules and submission guidelines, you have sign up for the newsletter at www.williamchriswines.com.

Several samples of delicious wine later we were sold on the competitive quality of Texas wines. We’d also wiled away three hours nibbling on a charcuterie board and wandering the grounds guided by lovely wine club manager Rochelle Carnes.

By the time we departed William Chris Vineyard we had time for one more stop and went by Lost Draw Cellars, William Chris’s sister property in Fredericksburg. As a band played on the patio we dipped inside what was a gas station for almost 100 years before the family turned it into a winery and charming tasting room about seven years ago! Over another charcuterie board and more delicious Texas wines, from reds to a canned rose called Sway, we stayed until the last person was ready to leave…And we made it for a walk up Enchanted Rock on the drive home, just as the sun was flirting with setting beyond the horizon.

A Hill Country day trip is a wonderful way to disconnect, explore some of Texas’s hidden treasures and have a vacation in a day. 

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