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Travel Itinerary: Fredericksburg, Texas

By: Teresa Bitler

Set aside those preconceived notions you have of the Lone Star State—instead of cattle ranches and oil drills, you’ll see vineyards and wineries in the Texas Hill Country, the second largest American Viticultural Area. Thirty-two wineries are concentrated here, within driving distance of Austin, San Antonio, Houston and Dallas, and many of them have gained national and even international attention for their outstanding Spanish, Italian, and Rhone varietals.

Fredericksburg makes the ideal base to explore the Texas Hill Country. Wine Road 290 (U.S. Highway 290) runs through the historic town, and its downtown area has tasting rooms, fine dining and attractions for the entire family. Plan to spend at least a weekend shopping, visiting local museums, and sipping wines. Or, better yet, make it a week.
Where to stay:

•    Hangar Hotel – Step back in time with World War II-themed accommodations at the Hangar Hotel, located at the Gillespie County Airport, just minutes from the heart of Fredericksburg. The hotel features high speed internet, Egyptian cotton sheets, replica 1940s phones, and bomber jacket leather-covered furniture.

•    Inn on Barons Creek – A more traditional hotel experience, the Inn on Barons Creek offers 90 rooms, including extended stay suites and nine cottages with direct access to Barons Creek.

•    Magnolia House Bed & Breakfast – Known for its two-course breakfasts, Magnolia House sits in a quiet Fredericksburg neighborhood nestled among magnolia and pecan trees.

•    Sunday Houses – Like they did in Germany, settlers originally intended to live in town and go out to their fields daily. Distances in Texas forced them to live on their farms and come into town, where they kept a “Sunday house,” to shop and attend church. Today, you can rent these standalone properties and similar accomodations in Fredericksburg.

Where to eat:

•    Cabernet Grill – You’ll find filet mignon, buffalo enchiladas, grilled quail and pan-seared trout on the menu at Cabernet Grill, but what makes this a must for dinner is its extensive, Texas-only wine list. The 75 offerings include wines from Becker Vineyards, Chisolm Trail Winery, Grape Creek Vineyards, Ironwood Estates, Pedernales Cellars and more. 

•    Pink Pig – Housed in a historic log building, this quaint restaurant features farm-to-fork breakfast, lunch and dinner entrees. Save room for dessert, though. Pastry chef Rebecca Rather makes from-scratch baked goods, like key lime pie, caramel brownies, banana nut bars, iced sugar cookies, and raspberry scones.

•    Hilltop Café – People drive from Austin and San Antonio to dine on the Cajun and Greek meals served in this converted 1930s-era gas station. Occasionally, they are treated to impromptu performances by owner, Johnny Nicholas, a former musician with Asleep at the Wheel, or by his rocker friends.

•    Farm Haus Bistro – Set in a historic 1890s stone house at the Fredericksburg Herb Farm, the bistro offers elegant dishes such as escargot in smoked tomato butter, herb-marinated rack of lamb, and espresso-rubbed grilled venison. Compliment your meal with a Texas wine.

Where to taste:

•    Becker Vineyards – Richard Becker’s 46-acre estate produces some of Texas’ best pours. You can’t go wrong with any of the wines at Becker Vineyards ($10 will get you six samples in the tasting room), but if you like reds, try the Reserve Tempranillo, the Reserve Cabernet or their flagship wine, the Raven.

•    Grape Creek Vineyards – The first winery on Highway 290, Grape Creek Vineyards offers six tastes for $12. Start with the Cuvee Blanc, Grape Creek’s most popular white, and don’t miss the Bellisimo, a 50 percent Sangiovese blend. If you have the time, take the barrel-tasting tour ($20).

•    Penderales Cellars – Family-owned Penderales Cellars focuses on Rhone and Spanish varietals, like Abriano, Viognier, and Tempranillo. A $12.95 tasting fee will allow you to sample nine wines. Make sure one of those is the Dry Rose, made strictly from Tempranillo grapes.

•    4.0 Cellars – Three Texas wineries located in other parts of the state—McPherson Cellars, Lone Oak Winery, and Brennan Vineyards—partnered to create 4.0 Cellars, a tasting room along Highway 290. For $8, you can sample six wines from any of them, plus the wine of the week.

•    Torre di Pietra Vineyards – Opened in 2000, Torre di Pietra Vineyards produces wines with whimsical names like Dirty Girl, Red Flirt and Midnight Nymph. You can swirl, sniff and sip up to six wines for $10.

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    Teresa Bitler

    Teresa Bitler
    I'm a freelance writer in the Phoenix area. I'll write about almost anything, but travel is my passion. Read More About Teresa