Texas Winery Tours – Austin Day Trips
Each Texas winery has its own personality, environment and method of winemaking, but all share an affility to quality, hospitality and an intense passion for what they do. We invite newcomers and old friends alike to an award-winning wine experience only Texas can offer.
Wedding Oak Winery
Wedding Oak Winery located smack in the middle of the quaint town of San Saba brings quality wine to small-town Texas. A little more than an hour and a half drive from Austin, this relatively new winery has been making wines with Texas-grown grapes since 2010. The historic 1926 tasting room and adjacent winery has been restored with the charm you would expect from the era. The light, open tasting room, and tranquil courtyard make a great place to sip away the hours.
Try the Albariño 2013, a crisp and vibrant white wine made with a grape typically grown in North West Spain. A fresh floral scent and lemon and peach flavors make it a perfect afternoon wine. It goes for $23 in the tasting room.
Wedding Oak Winery, 316 E Wallace St, San Saba, TX 76877
Fiesta Vineyard and Winery
Fiesta Vineyard and Winery is tucked away on a massive ranch in Bend, Texas about an hour and a half drive from Austin. While the winery is only five years old, the Baxter Ranch has been in the family for six generations — since the 1840s. The estate vineyards produce a wide variety of grapes that do well in the Texas heat. Known for its sweet wines, this up and coming winery is using its state of the art equipment to crank out 11,000 cases of wine a year, including dry styles. The tasting room is the Baxter family’s converted game room, and you’ll feel just at home in it with the family as you would around their dinner table.
Try the Fiesta Winery Country Road, a blend of Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, and a few other red grapes, aged in neutral oak barrels. It’s an easy-going red with a serious side with deep blackberry and currant flavors. It sells for $30.
Fiesta Vineyard and Winery, 18727 W FM 580, Lometa, TX 76853
Texas Legato Winery
Texas Legato Winery sits in a lovely valley outside Lampasas about an hour’s drive from Austin. The petite winery makes wine from grapes grown in its six-acre vineyards. If you travel in a big pack, the tasting room may not hold all of you, but never fear, the deck with vineyard views will hold everyone.
Try the 2012 Petite Sirah, a dark and brooding wine with rich flavors of black plum chocolate and black pepper. It sells for $23.
Texas Legato Winery, 2935 FM 1478, Lampasas, TX 76550
Pillar Bluff Vineyards
Pillar Bluff Vineyards located next door to Texas Legato with abutting vineyards and owned and operated by Gill Bledsoe, who is the twin brother of the Texas Legato Winery owner, Bill Bledsoe. The boutique winery makes 1,200 cases of wines made with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petite Verdot grapes. The petite tasting room has the grace and ease to transport you through hours and the glasses of wine.
Try the 2011 Tempranillo, spicy red wine with Bing cherry and milk chocolate flavors with a zippy acidic backbone. It sells for $23.
Pillar Bluff Vineyards, 300 Co Rd 111, Lampasas, TX 76550
Pilot Knob Vineyard
Pilot Knob Vineyard is easy to find just off of US Hwy 183 in Bertram, TX less than an hour drive Northwest of Austin. The handsome, huge new stone and timber tasting room sit on a ridge giving it sweeping views of 112 acres of vineyards and the Texas Hill Country surrounding it. The winery was started in 2011 by Craig Pinkley after he fell in love with the wine industry while on a business trip to Napa. You’re likely to run into his wife and kids working in the tasting room with smiles as big as the view.
Try the Pilot Knob Vineyard, Texas Hill Country, Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, 2012. This fragrant wine has blackberry, blueberry, and green pepper flavors with rosemary undertones. It’s elegant, but not too fussy to sit outside and take in the sights. It sells for $45.
While the Top of the Hill Country Wine Trail organizes day trips to visit all eight wineries, I recommend taking them just a few at a time. Each winery offers its own version of relaxation. No need to hurry.
Pilot Knob Vineyard, 125 Co Rd 212, Bertram, TX 78605
American Wineries & Wine
America has been producing wine for over three centuries. Although every state produces wine, some are considered better than others. Of the American wineries, the most successful come from the states of California, Washington, Oregon, and New York. California generally leads the way for American wine.
The introduction of European grapes by settlers seeking new fortunes in America kick-started the wine trade on the new continent. Countries such as France, Italy, Turkey, and Spain had long been producing wine and the trade was booming in Europe for a few hundred years before the trip to America became a reality for any large numbers of settlers. When they moved to America, they brought their trade along with them and began to make the first American wine!
Now, American wine is a multi-billion dollar industry with America being the fifth most popular exporter of wine in the world (the countries above still remain the most popular). In fact, California, America’s best wine-making state in the popular West Coast region exports more wine than the entire continent of Australia every year.
American wines must adhere to strict appellation laws introduced by the ATF in the 1970s. The laws state that for American Viticulture Area (AVA) labels to appear on bottle of American wine, 85% or more of the grapes used must be grown in monitored and predetermined areas of each state. For the wine to be sold and shipped legally, it must have an AVA guarantee stamp on the bottle. This ensures the quality of the product of American wineries.
The most popular American label is Ernest and Julio Gallo. The Gallo label accounts for more than a quarter of all American wine production and is the second most popular label in the entire world. The label flourished since it was set up in 1933 at the end of the prohibition era in America. It has transformed the area of Sonoma County in California into one of the most popular and famous wine regions in the world. Their mission has always been to produce high quantities of quality wine which can be sold at a discounted rate. They have proven that cheap wine does not have to be lacking in quality. A regular bottle of E&J; wine can cost as little as $10 yet regularly ranks along side other wines in the $50-$100 price range. Such wine makes a fine choice for a gift basket.
Constellation Brand wine is also extremely popular in America and is imported throughout Europe. Starting after the end of World War 2, 1945, in New York, Constellation has the largest portfolio of wine and beer producing brands in the world, earning profits of almost $4 Billion for the past five years in a row.
The third largest wine company in the world is also American. The Wine Group is famous for the Franzia brand and also for its wide selection of kosher wines, aimed at America’s many Jewish customers. The Franzia brand is based in California but the group’s acquisitions extend far beyond the shores of America with several prosperous ventures in other top wine regions in Chile, Europe and Australia.
The world still generally considers the best wines to come from France where it is priced accordingly along with its expensive Champagne. These are often more exclusive, selling top quality wines made from hand-picked grapes at huge prices to collectors and connoisseurs. American wineries, however, tend to produce good quality wines at a fraction of the price and that is what makes them so popular.
These fine American wines should be properly stored and displayed in wine racks for more than aesthetic reasons. Doing so will help to preserve the cork and prevent build up in the bottle from sedimentation. Wine cellar racks are a smart investment for any wine conaoisseur.
Brief History and Introduction to Wine
Wine is an alcoholic drink typically made of fermented grape juice. Wines can also be made from other fruits and substances such as rice wine, barley wine, apple wine, berry wine, and ginger wine, but the Wine.im site primarily deals with wine made from grapes, which is what the general public generally thinks of as ‘wine’.
The word “wine” derives from the Proto-Germanic “winam” which is an early borrowing from the Latin word vinum, “wine” or “(grape) vine”.
Wine is produced by fermenting crushed grapes using various types of yeast. Yeast consumes the sugars found in the grapes and converts them into alcohol. Their natural chemical balance enables grapes to ferment without adding sugars, acids, or enzymes. Different varieties of grapes and strains of yeasts are used depending on the type of wine being produced.
Wine has a rich history dating back to approximately 6,000 BC and archaeological evidence suggests that the earliest production of wine, made by fermenting grapes, took place in sites now within the borders of Georgia and Iran. Iran had a thriving wine industry that has since disappeared since the Islamic Revolution in 1979.
The oldest known evidence of wine production in Europe is dated to approximately 4,500 BC when it began appearing in what is now Bulgaria and Greece. Wine has played an important role in religion throughout history with consumption traced back thousands of years in ancient China and Egypt. It is used today in Christian and Jewish ceremonies and its consumption was common in ancient Greece, Thrace and Rome. The Greek god Dionysos and the Roman equivalent Bacchus represented wine.