Do you feel that chill in the air? Finally, the weather in Texas is starting to feel like fall, and there’s no better place to spend an afternoon than outdoors at one of the scenic wineries in the Texas Hill Country. October, after all, is Texas Wine Month.
Although this year’s Texas Wine Month Passport has now sold out, people can still visit any of the participating wineries and enjoy some good Texas wine. These are the wines to seek out at 10 Hill Country wineries — and one of them is even for a good cause particularly near and dear to us.
Pedernales 2015 Viognier Reserve: This white wine, a specialty of Pedernales, is the fourth vintage of the Viognier Reserve. On the nose, you might notice a rich blend of honey, lemon and apricot; on the palate, you’ll likely detect almond and mild toast.
Messina Hof Resilience: The Texas winery with locations in three of the state’s cities, including Fredericksburg, has made a special edition wine called Resilience to benefit long-term Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. Resilience is a dry red blend comprised of cabernet sauvignon, sangiovese and malbec, and 100 percent of the proceeds from its purchase will go toward helping hurricane victims.
As one of the state’s largest wineries, Messina Hof was able to produce 600 cases of the wine and hopes “to raise upwards of $50,000,” according to the winery. Its Hill Country vineyard had been harvesting lenoir grapes the evening that Harvey blew in, leading to “a memorably turbulent harvest weekend,” though overall the winery was unaffected, CEO Paul Mitchell Bonarrigo said.
“We hope that we can lend a hand with this product release,” he said.
Resilience will be available for purchase at all Messina Hof locations, as well as online and at select grocery and liquor stores throughout the state.
Duchman Family Winery 2015 Vermentino: The Driftwood winery’s flagship wine, an Italian white varietal, is a perennial award winner that you’ll find has “a nose of delicate white flower and citrus with generous acidity and mineral notes on the palate,” according to Duchman.
Designed to look like a beautiful Italian villa in the Texas countryside, Duchman is the site of an Oct. 20 Tapas and Texas Wine dinner in honor of Texas Wine Month. The 2016 Vermentino will be featured, along with a handful of wines from other Hill Country wineries. There are still $75 tickets available.
Brennan Vineyards 2015 Buffalo Roam: This dry red blend has been a crowd favorite — as well as a gold medal winner at this year’s prestigious San Francisco International Wine Competition — thanks to the syrah, cinsault and ruby cabernet grapes lending fruity notes of plum and berry. The wine was aged in oak for a balance of leather and pipe tobacco characteristics.
Fall Creek Vineyards wine flight: Throughout the month of October, the Hill Country’s very first winery is offering a $15 flight of three of its wines made from grapes in three different growing regions around the state: the 2016 Sauvignon Blanc, the 2015 Tempranillo and the 2016 Creekside Rosé. The flights are available at both Fall Creek locations.
William Chris Vineyards 2015 Skeleton Key: Named after an actual skeleton key that was found during the renovation of an old farmhouse on winery grounds, this soulful red wine blend features syrah, ruby cabernet and tempranillo grapes. They combine for notes of baked blackberry pie, lemon zest and vibrant cranberry — a fall wine if ever there was one.
Spicewood Vineyards 2014 Estate Tempranillo: The owner of this Hill Country winery sings the praises of the hardy red grape, and one taste of the wine, full of hints of dried red fruits, black plum, black pepper and leather, confirms why he does.
Bending Branch Winery Texas Tannat 2014: Some winemakers, like those at Spicewood, think the state’s most promising grape is tempranillo; others prefer tannat. That’s certainly the case at Bending Branch, whose 2014 tannat vintage is “racy.” In this wine, “firm tannins are spiked with spicy peppercorn, tobacco smoke and tart black currant reminiscent of young Bordeaux,” according to the winery.
Wedding Oak Winery 2014 Tempranillo Reserva: One of the big reasons to visit the small Texas town of San Saba, Wedding Oak Winery recommends getting cozy with “this ultimate autumn wine,” rich with notes of bright cherry and dusty leather.
Calais Winery 2016 Cuvee de Gaston: Sure, summer is technically over. But has our obsession with rosé wine gone with it? Not at all. This boutique winery near William Chris (whose owner, Benjamin Calais, also has a distillery called Hye Rum in the Hill Country) offers this pretty-in-pink wine that runs amok with notes of zesty grapefruit and wild strawberries.
Many of Texas’ Hill Country wineries are bunched fairly close together, while others are more remote. All are going to require a day trip from Austin. Plan your trip with this handy map from the Texas Wine Trail.