Scroll to read more

Texas wineries are drawing travelers with their value, laid-back style and small-town charm.

With a climate suitable for growing grapes from Italy and southern France (and landscapes similar to those scenic wine regions), Texas’ American Viticultural Areas feature thriving wine tourism industries. Plus, wine lovers will find that vino prices here are a bargain compared to those in popular wine regions like Napa Valley and Sonoma, California. So, pack your cowboy boots, rent a pickup truck, savor down-home country cuisine and embrace the state’s Old West style at these must-visit Texas wineries.

Fall Creek Vineyards: Tow

Ed and Susan Auler are credited with starting the Texas Hill Country wine scene by planting Vitis vinifera vines at their central Texas ranch in 1975. Today, Fall Creek Vineyards’ stunning original location on Lake Buchanan (which sits 2 miles northeast of Tow and about 85 miles northwest of Austin) is known for its peaceful, rural setting and casual European country decor. The vineyard is the oldest in the Texas Hill Country Trail Region and produces many of its own wines on site, including award-winning dry rose and sauvignon blanc varietals from their signature Vitner’s collection. Tastings start at $20 per person and feature five wine samples.

Duchman Family Winery: Driftwood

At the Duchman family’s beautiful Texas Hill Country winery, you’ll discover Tuscan-style red roof tiles and stone walls so breathtaking that the property was dubbed one of the most picturesque wineries in the U.S. by HGTV. Grapes sourced from the Texas High Plains are the basis for wines like vermentino and sangiovese. Try six varieties during a standard wine tasting (which costs $17 per person), paired with a housemade pizza or charcuterie board from the on-site kitchen. Or, pay $60 for a seat on Austin Detours’ Salt Lick & Winery Shuttle Tour. The excursion covers transportation from Austin to the famous Salt Lick BBQ restaurant and the Duchman Family Winery. Keep in mind, food and wine tastings cost extra if you book this tour.

Kuhlman Cellars: Stonewall

The winemakers at Kuhlman Cellars credit the creek winding through their Texas Hill Country estate (which is located approximately 60 miles west of Austin and 75 miles north of San Antonio) as inspiration for their highly regarded wine. The property’s everyday red wine, Alluvé, is named after the estate’s alluvial soil, which is enriched by the creek’s sediment. Try a glass with the winery’s homemade herbed almonds or seasonal bites like roasted red pepper hummus and Camembert bacon tartine. Reservations for a self-paced sampling of five wines can be made for $20 per adult; food and wine pairings start at $37.50 per person. Visitors rave about Kuhlman Cellars’ knowledgeable sommeliers and customized service, so book ahead to ensure availability.

Fall Creek Vineyards: Driftwood

Sample some of Texas’ best wines at Fall Creek Vineyards’ second outpost in Driftwood. The beautiful estate, which sits less than 30 miles southwest of downtown Austin, serves award-winning sauvignon blanc and tempranillo varieties made with grapes sourced from around the state. The winery’s terroir collection highlights the best wines produced at each of the winery’s local partner vineyards. The $20 Winemaker’s Choice Tasting experience includes five preselected wines. Accompaniments like chocolates and charcuterie and cheese boards are available for a fee as well. For a luxurious epicurean treat, book the property’s two-bedroom Wine Country Inn for exclusive access to the grounds and a complimentary wine tasting.

Bending Branch Winery: Comfort

Situated roughly 50 miles northwest of San Antonio, the 56-acre Bending Branch Winery uses 14 acres of land to grow several Mediterranean varietals, including the flavorful tannat grape (the basis of their award-winning wine). Founded in 2009 by the Young family, the winery incorporates modern techniques (think: cryomaceration and ThermoFlash fermentation) to create bold and balanced reds, which helped the estate win the San Antonio Express-News Readers’ Choice Award for Best Winery from 2015 to 2021. Wine connoisseurs appreciate the knowledgeable staff and organic offerings, plus the beautiful scenery and laid-back tastings, which include a souvenir wine glass. Samples of five vinos will set you back $30.

Messina Hof Hill Country Winery: Fredericksburg

Established by the Bonarrigo family in 2011, this Fredericksburg winery offers more than 50 wines in its tasting room, along with a food menu and gift shop. The nearly 10-acre property is also home to the Manor Haus B&B, a bed-and-breakfast establishment with four uniquely furnished, rustic-chic cottages. Sleep among the scenic vineyards of lenoir grapes after spending the day hiking, biking and swimming in the surrounding area. The nightly rate, which varies by accommodation but starts at $125, includes a bottle of sparkling wine and a continental breakfast.

Spicewood Vineyards: Spicewood

Spicewood Vineyards (only about 35 miles northwest of Austin) attracts everyone from day-trippers and travelers with pets to those looking for a special place to celebrate life’s milestones. Visitors note how relaxing the tasting experience is on the winery’s outdoor patio, where you can try cheeses and sip a glass of Good Guy (a popular tempranillo blend) while gazing at peaceful vineyards. Spicewood’s vinos incorporate several grape varieties grown on-site, including sauvignon blanc and chardonnay, as well as grapes grown at other Texas vineyards. Wine tastings at the 32-acre property are available every day, though reservations are recommended. Tastings range from $15 to $30 per person, depending on the wines sampled. Buy a cheese plate or bring a picnic lunch to complement your tasting.

Becker Vineyards: Stonewall

Surrounded by lavender fields like those found in France, the Becker Vineyards estate produces fine Bordeaux-, Burgundy- and Rhone-style wines that have been served at the White House and the James Beard House (a New York City dining venue with ties to the James Beard Foundation). For the ultimate experience, try Becker’s $55 Private Tour & Tasting experience, which includes a cheese and charcuterie plate and a souvenir Riedel wine glass. There are also $25 tastings available daily at both the vineyard and its Main Street Tasting Room in Fredericksburg, located 14 miles northwest of the winery. At the winery, active members of the military who show a valid military ID can enjoy free tastings.

Texas Wine Collective: Fredericksburg

Several tour operators host outings from San Antonio or Austin to the Texas Hill Country’s 50-plus wineries, but you can sample wines from three makers at one stop by visiting the Texas Wine Collective, formerly known as 4.0 Cellars, in Fredericksburg. This unusual winery is a collaboration with Brennan Vineyards, Lost Oak Winery and McPherson Cellars. Tastings on the patio, on the lawn or in the modern tasting room include both single varietals and blends. Tasting experiences start at $22 per person; upgraded offerings with local cheese or chocolate pairings are available as well (reservations required).

Llano Estacado: Lubbock

This traveler-favorite winery isn’t in Texas Hill Country; it’s situated about 130 miles south of Amarillo in the Texas High Plains. Llano Estacado put the region’s American Viticultural Area on the map with its high-quality wines, beginning in the 1980s when its 1984 chardonnay won the double gold medal at the International Wine Competition in San Francisco. Today, you can also sample a variety of vino such as tempranillo, moscato, riesling, merlot and sparkling wine. The winery’s large, busy tasting room welcomes oenophiles every day except Monday. Each 15- to 25-minute tour is free to enjoy, while tastings cost $15 to $30 per person.

Messina Hof Winery & Resort: Bryan

Messina Hof Winery & Resort – which sits about 100 miles northwest of Houston in eastern Texas’ Brazos Valley area – was founded more than 40 years ago by the descendants of an Italian winemaker. Today, the winery and its two sister locations produce 130,000 gallons of wine annually. Try the award-winning Paulo sagrantino variety and the private reserve petite syrah, which features rich notes of cherry, plum and black pepper. Elevate your visit with a stay at the property’s romantic Villa Bed & Breakfast. Nightly fees start at $165 and cover a winery tour, a tasting, an evening reception and daily breakfast.

Urban Wine Trail: Grapevine

Named for the wild mustang grapes found by homesteaders here in the 19th century, Grapevine has grown to become a top wine destination in Texas. The city, which is conveniently located approximately 20 miles northwest of Dallas and Fort Worth, is home to the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association, plus a variety of wineries that are part of its Urban Wine Trail. Park the car to check out seven of the trail’s tasting rooms inside some of South Main Street’s historical buildings. For additional wine tastings and activities, arrive in mid-September during GrapeFest. The annual event showcases more than 150 varietals from dozens of Texas wineries.

Pedernales Cellars: Stonewall

This family owned-and-operated winery features a vineyard and tasting room on its 145-acre property in the Pedernales River Valley, located 65 miles west of Austin. Sustainable practices such as geothermic cooling in its storage cellar, natural pest management in its vineyards, solar lighting in the tasting room and composting of wine by-products are used to produce the brand’s predominately Spanish- and Rhone-style varietals. Tastings start at $20 per person and can be enjoyed on a scenic outdoor patio. The neighboring AAA Four Diamond Rose Hill Retreat offers scenery and seclusion in the heart of Texas hill country. Rates start at $269 per night and include a complimentary three-course breakfast.

Southold Farm + Cellar: Fredericksburg

Located about 65 miles west of Austin, this small family operation prides itself on low intervention winemaking practices which produces wine that allows the true seasonal terroir to be expressed in every bottle. Tasting experiences – which require reservations – start at $25 and include four wine samples administered by a knowledgeable guide; add food pairings for $35 more. Guests swoon over the romantic setting and scenery, which is best enjoyed from the oversized porch swings hanging behind the tasting room. The retro-chic Stonewall Motor Lodge features a rooftop patio for savoring your bounty after a day exploring the areas 75 wineries, breweries and distilleries. If you can’t make it out to Fredericksburg, stop by The Parlour, Southold Farm + Cellar’s outpost in Johnson City (between Fredericksburg and Austin).

William Chris Vineyards: Hye

A collaboration between two longtime Texas winemakers, this operation receives rave reviews for its scenic grounds, tasty wines and friendly, knowledgeable staff. Functioning as an umbrella for a collection of five different brands, the vineyard produces a wide array of varietals, from blanc du bois to cabernet sauvignon, created to showcase the unique Texas terroir in each bottle. Basic tastings start at $25 per person, or you can upgrade your experience to include a picnic lunch, a group tour of the property, or a two-hour storytelling session where you’ll gather around a 400-year-old oak tree to hear tales of the vineyard’s history while sipping a current release sample. A stay at the nearby Vineyard Trail Cottages offers a peaceful respite to fully bask in the rural atmosphere.

You might also be interested in: