Heading West on Highway 290 from Austin Texas you enter the Texas Hill Country. A scenic drive that is full of rolling hills, creeks, wildlife and large Texas ranches. You still see cowboys on horseback large open areas full of scrub brush, mesquite trees and windmills.
Roughly 80 miles later you come upon the country town of Fredericksburg. Settled by German immigrants in the 1840’s, Fredericksburg is just what you would expect from a typical wine making community. Wait what! Wine making in Texas? That’s right, Texas, the state of cowboys and oil wells is also a wine making state.
With over 200 wineries and vineyards in Texas the business is booming. From West Texas to the Hill Country and East Texas, Texas wineries are fast becoming a major player in the wine industry. Amid the sprawling ranches populated by deer, wild boar and good ‘ol boys, Texas winemakers are producing award winning wines.
The oldest operating winery in Texas dates to 1883. Located in Del Rio Texas the Val Verde Winery is a family run winery that was established by Italian immigrant Frank Qualia. The Val Verde Winery is a landmark and an innovator in the growing Texas wine industry.
In 1986 Llano Estacado winery, in Lubbock Texas, entered the San Francisco Fair Wine Competition winning a double gold award and Texas wineries began to gain worldwide recognition.
Since that time people driving on Texas country roads have given odd looks to vineyards where barbed wired fences and cactus used to be.
The Texas Hill country lies just east of Central Texas and that is where you will find some of the best wineries in the state. Where 20 years ago you would find a small country town populated by ranchers, hunters and a few stores, these places have been transformed into weekend destinations for travelers of all kinds.
Now you can spend the day in places like Fredericksburg where shops sell all types of interesting things along with stores set up by local wineries that offer wine tastings and education about the quality of Texas wines.
Just as California wines have gained followers and a reputation for quality, Texas wines are beginning to do the same. And after all there is a town named Grapevine Texas.