I love traveling. To hear my husband describe it, I have some seriously “itchy feet”. When the weather starts to warm up, I like to jump in the car, head for the Texas Hill Country, spend time exploring new wineries and visiting the old favorites.
A lot has been written about Texas wineries. Wine enthusiast recognize that the Texas wine industry is experiencing extremely rapid growth. This fast growth can be attributed to the quality of grapes throughout the regions of the vast state and winemaking improvements that take advantage of the state’s multiple terroirs. With over 50 wineries located in the Hill Country, it is one of the most visited areas in the state. Texas is the fifth-largest wine producing state in the US and the Hill Country boasts 8 primary appellations of AVAs.
When most people think of Texas Hill Country wine, almost invariably they focus on the town of Fredericksburg and surrounding Hill Country communities. Highway 290 is the main artery that connects this thriving grape growing region. This area of classic Texas landscape has wineries tucked into the hills with production predominately from Texas grapes. Much of the grape production takes place in the panhandle where cooler climates provide a longer growing season. Significant quantities of grapes are also grown in the Hill Country and are supplemented with out-of-state varietals.
Early this spring, the travel bug bit me pretty hard. To alleviate my travel itch, I headed to the Hill Country area with my husband, traveling buddy and editor-in-chief. My goal was to visit at least two wineries where I could spend some quality time; one new (Driftwood) and another old favorite (Hye).
Driftwood Estate winery sits on a bluff overlooking vineyards with a serene view of the surrounding lush valley. Late April was the perfect time to go when the weather is still pleasant with cool breezes flowing through the trees and before the insects started swarming (think mosquitos). Most wineries have worked through the mosquito nuisance problem by using natural techniques but having lived in Texas for over 20 years, I’ve surmised that these little suckers actively try to seek me out.
The tasting room is housed at the top of a hill leading down to a grassy courtyard that overlooks the vineyards. Medals and plaques are prominently displayed around the room featuring winning entries from the San Francisco Chronicle and Houston Livestock wine competitions. The size and intimacy of the tasting room allows guests to spend time enjoying their samples, meeting new people and talking with knowledgeable Driftwood wine experts. On weekends, Driftwood caters to an adult-only crowd so plan accordingly.
My favorite wine was the Driftwood Albarino. The nose exhibited a mixture of lavender, white flowers and peach. The palate was dry with a hint of stone fruit sweetness. The white offering has medium acidity and minerality that pairs well with shellfish such as oysters and mussels. The staff in the Driftwood tasting room and the café were wonderfully attentive and friendly.
Heading back to 290, our next stop was Hye Meadow Winery. In 2017, after a full day of sampling wines along the 290 corridor, I found Hye Meadow on a newer map highlighting wineries that weren’t as well known but had caught the eye of the author. I am very glad that I ventured off the beaten path and found Hye Meadow. The owners, Mike and Denise Batek, have a wonderful story of when they were at a cross roads in their teaching and corporate careers (something that most of us can relate to), they took a chance and with a lot of prayer and support founded the winery.
The grounds are expansive, beautiful and peaceful. Hye Meadow easily accommodates families with areas for kids to play in and a pavilion where local musicians perform. There is a fenced area where you can see donkeys that have been raised on the property grazing in a section of the meadow.
This trip, I decided to focus on sampling white wines. The Junkyard White is a fun blend of Riesling(75%), Trebbiano(15%) and Malvasia Bianca grapes (10%). It has a great melon nose and honeydew flavor. Light acidity provides a little jazz on the palate. Don’t be fooled by the Riesling and honeydew descriptions. This is a dry white and paired very well with the artisan cheese plate that we enjoyed at the winery. We were fortunate enough to be able to catch up to the owners and chat a bit; Mike in the tasting room and Denise providing us with information on the tasty cheese plate that we enjoyed.
When you’re in the Austin/San Antonio area on business or have time for a drive “just around the corner” in Texas, visit the Driftwood and Hye Meadow Wineries. The hospitality, scenery and most importantly the wines will have you coming back time after time.
Remember to drink what it is that makes you truly happy and always think positively!
@doublegoldcab @blackwinelovers @texaswines @hyemeadowwinery