Napa Valley and Sonoma, Calif. may be the first places that come to mind when you think of wine tasting in the United States. But there are plenty of other regions wine enthusiasts have successfully experimented with the cultivation of grapes for wine production.
Ranked one of the best wine travel destinations in 2014 by Wine Enthusiast Magazine, The Texas Hill Country is home to more than three dozen vineyards. If you live in an Austin apartment, you hardly have to “travel” to reach these wineries. Here are a few places you can sample locally produced wine in idyllic vineyard settings without even having to venture more than 20 or 30 minutes from your downtown Austin apartment.
Situated on a bluff in Driftwood, Texas that overlooks brilliantly maintained vineyards and fine Central Texas nature, Driftwood Vineyards is an especially scenic places for wine tasting in the Texas Hill Country. That the grape harvesting and barreling magicians have nailed their craft doesn’t hurt either.
The tasting room is open from 11 AM to 6 PM in the winter and 11 AM to 7 PM when daylight saving time is in effect. While dogs are not allowed to enter the tasting room, the grounds are pet-friendly. The setting is perfect for enjoying a picnic and a bottle of wine outside with your family, friends, dog and all.
Bell Springs Winery
Located just 20 minutes west of Austin, Bell Springs Winery offers a distinct experience in a beautiful environment. The tasting room, which features an ever-changing selection of vintages, is open daily from 11 AM to 6 PM. What’s distinctly Austin about this Dripping Springs vineyard? In addition to offering a picturesque environment, wine tasters can enjoy their grapes over live music on weekends.
A purveyor of gourmet artisan olive oil, Bella Vista Ranch in Wimberley, Texas also grows grapes for wine. As a boutique winery that prides itself on experimenting and offering only high-quality craft vintages for tasting, Bella Vista Cellars rarely has more than a handful of wines available for tasting and purchase at any given time. Most vintages are only available for a short time before they are sold out, so if you taste something you like, make sure to grab a bottle before you leave! Formal, guided tours are available and visiting hours change with the season.
Duchman Family Winery
Known for its Dolcetto, Sangiovese, and Vermentino, the Duchman Family Winery draws lovers of Italian vintages. Since its founding in 2004, it has made a name for itself. Its vintages have won awards in competitions from San Antonio to San Francisco. Also located in Driftwood, Texas, this winery is one of the easiest for Austin residents to visit. The proximity to the world-renowned, historic barbecue grill at Salt Lick makes a combination visit a popular option. Check out the Duchman wine tasting room webpage for information on hours.
If you like wine, live in Austin, and have yet to explore any wineries, plan a tasting adventure. You can visit wineries on your own, gather a group and rent a party bus, or sign up for a guided tasting tour. Texpert, Heart of Texas, and Discover Texas all offer tours in the Texas Hill Country.
Drinking wine produced in the area is just one more way you can live locally and support the economy. Of course, there are great places to drink local wine in Austin proper as well. But if you want to be as close as possible to the source of the wine you are tasting, make a visit to the vineyards.
Do you have a favorite Austin wine or winery? Share in the comments below!