“Texas Tea” might be the most famous export from the Lone Star State, but thanks to a booming grape scene, the state is starting to produce world-class wine.
Napa, France, Italy, and Spain may be the main areas that come to mind when people think about wine. But Texas, with its hot summers, sandy and rocky soils, and ample sunshine, makes for an impressive region in grape growing. Here are 10 of the best wineries in the state for wine tastings, tours, and lazy afternoons full of flavor.
Set on 42 acres in Stonewall, just outside of Fredericksburg, Becker Vineyards is an institution in Texas wine. The vineyards had its first harvest in 1995, and has grown to include three tank rooms and a barrel warehouse that contains over 3,000 oak barrels that produce 9 varietals. Becker Vineyards has a spacious outdoor patio and an on-site tasting room to sample its reds, whites, and rosé. For gorgeous wine-centric parties, the vineyard’s Lavender Haus is a great choice, as it’s a replica of a barn at the Lyndon B. Johnson settlement in Johnson City. Visitors to the vineyards in April or May can enjoy the blooming lavender fields and vibrant Texas wildflowers. Guided tours are conducted hourly on weekends and on a limited basis during the week.
For a bit of a quieter scene, head to Comfort and check out Bending Branch Winery, a boutique winery on 56 acres. The winery is known for its signature Tannat, a grape variety that thrives in Texas. It also offers Petit Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Vermentino, and more. Tours are available at 2 p.m. on Saturdays, and advance notice is recommended. The tasting room is open Thursday through Sunday.
In the tiny community of Hye, William Chris Vineyards operates on 20 acres of historic farm property. The vineyard focuses on growing 100 percent Texas fruits, and varietals include Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Tannat, and more. The tasting room was built using materials repurposed from the original homestead on the property and offers light snacks like cheese plates and hummus to pair with wines. A patio and covered pavilion, combined with live music on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays create the setting for a relaxing evening in the Hill Country.
What do you get when a grape farmer, retired oil and gas distributer, and a civil engineer get together to start a business? Lost Draw Cellars. The grapes—30 varieties—are grown in the Texas High Plains, but the Lost Draw Cellars tasting room is in Fredericksburg, just a few blocks off Main Street. The tasting room is open seven days a week and offers wine tastings or wine by the glass and bottle. The covered patio is a great place to wind down with a glass of red, white, or rosé with a selection of local cheeses, meats, and artisan snacks.
Located on a 100-acre Hill Country estate in Fredericksburg, Grape Creek Vineyards is a Tuscan-inspired winery that began operating in 1983. The romantic setting includes a Tuscan tasting room, tasting bar, and Stout’s Trattoria—the on-site fine dining restaurant serving Italian dishes like pastas, stone-baked pizzas, and Sunday brunch. Guests can enjoy a glass of wine on the patio overlooking the vineyards, or take part in a tour that goes through the entire production complex, including the new tank room and crush pad.
In Tow, about an hour and a half northwest of Austin, Fall Creek Vineyards occupies 400 acres along the west side of Lake Buchanan. The winery was formally established in 1980 and came to fruition after the owners took a trip to France in 1973. The trip was supposed to be centered around looking at French breeds of cattle to potentially cross with the Angus herd back at the family ranch, but instead, it turned into a trip that was all about French wine. The winery makes reds, whites, and rosé, and offers tastings in their tasting hall seven days a week. Winery tours are available by reservation, and a second location in Driftwood has a tasting room and two-bedroom cabin that’s perfect for a weekend getaway.
This winery was created to honor winemaker Kim McPherson’s father, Dr. Clinton “Doc” McPherson, a founder and pioneer of the modern Texas wine industry. Doc was one of the state’s prime grape growers and was the first in Texas to plant Sangiovese grapes in his vineyard. McPherson Cellars is located in downtown Lubbock in the historic 1930s-era Coca Cola bottling plant. All grapes for McPherson are sourced from the Texas High Plains. Tastings and tours are available Monday through Saturday, and the winery has a tasting room and courtyard.
Based in Burleson near Fort Worth, Lost Oak Winery has 52 acres of sprawling land that make a relaxing spot to spend an afternoon. In the tasting room, visitors can sample five wines of their choice, ranging from sweet whites to sweet Riesling and dry reds like Tempranillo. Guests can also enjoy gourmet cheese boards on the covered patio, and walking vineyard and winery tours are available on select dates to learn about crush, fermentation, and the specific challenges related to wine making. Tours come with complimentary guided wine flight tastings. Self-guided tours are also available, free, and don’t need to be scheduled in advance. For a bit more adventure, the winery has a 2.2-mile (3.5-kilometer) nature trail that is open for hikes and bikes.
At Pedernales Cellars, a sixth-generation Texas family is producing world-class wines at their winery overlooking the Pedernales River Valley. The Spanish- and Rhone-style wines can be enjoyed in the tasting room at the 145-acre property in Stonewall. Visitors can enjoy six wines off a fixed tasting menu that gives the full range of products. For tastings on Saturdays and for groups larger than six, appointments are required. Tours of the wine production area as well as a full tasting with paired cheese and charcuterie selections are available too, but must be booked online. The winery also has live music on many weekends.
As one of the most picturesque wineries in the state, Duchman Family Winery in Driftwood creates tasty wines from Italian grape varieties. All of the winery’s current releases can be sampled and bought in the winery’s tasting room, and private tours and tastings can be reserved. Guests are free to sip and explore the winery’s beautiful grounds and take a self-guided tour of the barrel room, tank fermentation area, and production area where bottling and labeling happen. Picnics are also encouraged, as the winery has breathtaking Hill Country views, lush vineyards, and plenty of shade from numerous oak trees.