Enjoy a girlfriend sip trip along the 290 Texas Hill Country Wine Trail
By Janis Turk
Take your favorite Tervis cup, grab your girlfriends, and turn up the radio. Soak up the sun, and take a Hill Country sip-trip to some of Texas’ best wineries. We picked 10 woozy wonderful ones sure to pop your cork.
There’s no more pleasant Texas road trip than one along the U.S. Highway 290 Hill Country Wine Trail. Stretching from Johnson City to Fredericksburg, make fun unplanned detours with bucolic stops at shops like Magnolia Pearl, or hear live music in Luckenbach. Let’s get lost, just for fun, along Texas’ best backroads.
Just 64 sweet miles from downtown San Antonio, up US-281, make a left onto Hwy 290 West. There, you’ll find the nation’s third- largest American Viticultural Area, or AVA-designated wine-growing geographic area.
With as many as 80 wineries, breweries, distilleries, and cider shacks tucked away along a 22-mile stretch of limestone, mesquite, cypress, and cedar-filled scenery, there’s a reason to stop every half mile or so. With wildflowers and orchards of sweet summer peaches, it’s heaven.
THREE’S THE LIMIT
Many new Hwy 290 wineries are multi-million-dollar compounds, like elaborate summer camps for grownups—with wine! Those who don’t imbibe can sip peach iced tea and enjoy it all just as much. Plan on visiting about 3-4 wineries per day, as you’ll need an hour or two at each, including lots of time for lunch, music, and shopping.
LET DAVE DRIVE
Traffic along 290 is treacherous enough; don’t ever drink and drive. Let a professional, like Dave Love of Hill Country Wine Tours, take the wheel. His comfortable air-conditioned vans and busses will pick you up from your home in San Antonio or anywhere you ask. Likewise the 290 Wine Shuttle also offers top-notch transportation. Bachelorette parties and wedding groups may like Fredericksburg Limo Wine Tours, too.
STAY IN STYLE
The Hill Country is loaded with cabins, B&Bs, motels, and “Sunday Haus” lodgings. Rest easy at the new Stonewall Motor Lodge, offering retro-chic digs in a Route-66-style motel with a hip Austin-esq aesthetic. A Fredericksburg favorite, just a block off Main Street, is Austin Street Retreat’s El Jefe Suite.
At the new Carter Creek Winery, Resort & Spa, adjacent to the Old 290 Brewery, 40+ gleaming new individual villas offer spacious suites with big-screen televisions, fireplaces, sitting rooms, roomy bathrooms and more. In addition to a premier winery, there’s a tasting room, restaurant, onsite microbrewery, outdoor event center, swimming pool, large lawn, lush landscaping, scenic lookout spots, private wine club areas, and a soon-to-open day spa. This is a new flagship winery.
TASTE OF TEXAS
Most Texas wineries also offer charming shops: boutiques, like Joanna’s Market at Signor Vineyards. I adore this exquisite 200-acre winery resting where the Pedernales River and Grape Creek meet. Featuring French country gardens, a farmhouse-style shop, oak-canopied patios, and a Santa Fe-style house, Signor is impeccable.
Reserve a Thursday or Friday sommelier-guided afternoon elevated tasting experience, held in the Estate House designed by famed architect Isaac Maxwell. With wood tables, leather sofas, oversized chairs, and white stucco walls, it’s like stepping into a Georgia O’Keeffe painting. Outside, live music lilts as folks line up at an airstream food truck and rustic wine barn. Outdoor table-service wine tastings also offer hand-crafted charcuterie spreads.
OPTIONS FOR OENOPHILES
Some wineries, like the 290 Wine Castle at Chateau de Chase and the Safari Winery offer adventuresome themes. Others, like Ron Yeats Vineyard, the Texas Wine Collective, William Chris, and Becker Vineyards, feature Texas-sized tasting rooms with views of vineyards, along with wines to please the most discriminating oenophiles. The Texas Wine Collective is a sprawling delight, with an extra tasting room dedicated solely to Rosé. It also offers popular McPherson wines and has the sweetest staff.
TRIP THE WINE FANDAGO AT…
- Carter Creek Winery Resort & Spa Johnson City
- 290 Castle, a Chateau de Chasse, Johnson City
- Ron Yeats, Hye
- Becker Vineyards , Stonewall
- Signor Vineyards, Fredericksburg
- Grape Creek Vineyards & Heath Sparkling Wines , Fredericksburg
- Texas Wine Collective , (formerly 4.0 Vineyards) Fredericksburg
- Safari Winery , Fredericksburg
- Augusta Vin, Fredericksburg. (Note: This winery is not along Hwy 290, but rather Hwy 16 past the Gillespie County Airport).
- If you’re gonna drink, you’re gonna wanna eat: In Fredericksburg, enjoy Vaudeville for lunch and Otto’s for supper, or if you’re sticking with the wine theme, try Cabernet Grill. For one last sip, visit Lincoln Street Market for wine by the glass or a bottle to bring home.