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Stunning views, world-class wines, and lots of Southern hospitality combine to make the wineries in Fredericksburg and the Texas Hill Country one of the most popular getaways in Central Texas. Over the last decade, the vineyards here have evolved significantly, coming into their own by relying on grapes that grow well in the Mediterranean and not trying to replicate what’s done elsewhere in the US. The live music and welcoming atmosphere don’t hurt either.
The Texas Hill Country Viticultural Area (the term for a designated wine grape-growing region) stretches for a massive 15,000 square miles. But the heart of Texas wine country is near the charming small town of Fredericksburg, approximately 1.5 hours west of Austin and an hour north of San Antonio.
Many of the wineries are concentrated along Highway 290, which stretches 30 miles from Fredericksburg to Johnson City. The area has more than 40 wineries and tasting rooms, and more open every year. With so many to choose from, it’s hard to know where to start. We visit often and have put together our suggestions for the best wineries in Fredericksburg to visit on a getaway.
A couple of miles off the main drag, Pedernales Cellars is located on 145 acres of sprawling Hill Country beauty. Its location provides great views from the deck adjacent to the tasting room where you can relax with your favorite glass of wine on a sunny day. It also allows for plenty of room for the vineyards and their state-of-the-art production area based around limestone insulation and a geothermal cooling system.
Pedernales Cellars had its beginnings 30 years ago in a grape-growing business started by Larry and Jeanine Kuhlken who planted a vineyard near Fredericksburg. Over a decade later, the couple’s two children and their spouses bought the sprawling property in Stonewall that officially opened as Pedernales Cellars in 2008. Today, the winery is known for its Spanish and Rhone-style wines and its commitment to Texas fruit–about half their grapes are grown on the property while others are grown in different areas of the state.
But it’s not just about locally-sourced fruit for Pedernales Cellars. Winemaker David Kuhlken is committed to making the best wines possible, as demonstrated by their long list of awards. The winery features live music on Saturdays and hosts special events (including cooking demonstrations) throughout the year. Top Picks: Tempranillo Reserve, GSM (blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre)
Established in 1992, Becker Vineyards is one of the oldest wineries in the Hill Country and the third-largest in Texas. Its 46 acres are filled with vineyards, lavender fields, and a reproduction late 19th-century German stone barn that houses the tasting room.
The sizable tasting area at Becker Vineyards was nearly empty during my off-season visit, so I had plenty of time to chat with the knowledgeable staff and the couple across from me who was celebrating their honeymoon. But I was warned that weekends can be very crowded thanks to the vineyard’s popularity and featured live music.
The crowds are drawn not only to the beauty of the place but to the many award-winning wines produced only from Texas fruit (and even labeled with Texas symbols like the longhorn named “Rawhide” who graces their Tempranillo label). Though only for sale in the Lone Star State (and shipped to about 25 states), the quality of Becker wines has been recognized as far as the White House–you can see the Presidential menus featuring their varietals hanging in the entryway. Top Picks: Reserve Malbec, Viognier
Relax and enjoy the wine tastings with a full- or half-day wine tour
In an ideal spot off State Highway 16, Augusta Vin offers vineyard views for days. From its two-story tasting room, it feels like you can see the entirety of the Hill Country awash in vines. It’s one of the best wineries in Fredericksburg to relax at for the day.
August Vin opened its doors in late 2019, offering guests a broad selection of estate grown wines, including Petite Sirah, Aglianico, and a sparkling wine called Sirens. Everything served here from the Malbec to the Marsanne is Texas grown. Across their 60 acres, they grow 10 varietals, including Tannat, Mouvedere, Albarino, Cabernet Sauvignon, and more. An additional 40 acres off-site supplements these offerings.
Regular and reserve tastings are available along with a menu of sandwiches, charcuterie, and desserts. Weekends regularly feature musical performances. Grab a glass and enjoy the patio, the balcony, or any of the other spots on this beautiful property. Top Picks: Estate Aglianico, Latitude 44 (a light blend of Marsanne and Roussanne)
Lost Draw Cellars
“Wilkommen!” If you spend much time in Fredericksburg, you’ll see this German “welcome” more than once, but it never fails to make me smile because of the hospitality and nod to the city’s German heritage that underlies it. At Lost Draw Cellars, the greeting is emblazoned on the patio of their tasting room a few blocks off Main Street and offers a glimpse of the warm welcome visitors receive here.
With tables, couches, and plenty of room for live music, there is space for guests at Lost Draw to have tastings at the bar inside or relax with glasses of wine and food from local food trucks on the outdoor “Crush Pad” patio. With over 15 wines available, it’s an easy place to lose track of time.
The wines at Lost Draw Cellars are from 100% Texas grapes, primarily from the Lost Draw Vineyards and Timmons Estate Vineyards in the Texas High Plains. Staff at the family-run winery love introducing guests to grapes that might be more unfamiliar such as Picpoul Blanc—a zingy French grape that pairs well with seafood and fried foods—as well as more common varietals like Zinfandel and Sangiovese.
In addition to learning about the wine, you may hear stories about the history of the property and the family’s roots, which go back seven generations in the area. After all, at Lost Draw Cellars, it’s about welcoming visitors like family. Top Picks: Spritztown Rose, Tempranillo
William Chris Vineyards
In a century-old farmhouse in Hye, you’ll find William Chris Vineyards. The cozy tasting room at the winery near Fredericksburg is filled with a handful of wooden tables where you can settle in for a tasting with a view of the surrounding landscape. During busy periods, the larger, modern room next door opens up to accommodate the groups who file in on the weekends to taste the winery’s best offerings.
William Chris has been a leader in the movement to promote what it calls real Texas wine, so you can be guaranteed that any of the fine wines you try here are made entirely with Texas-grown grapes. Using fruit from multiple Texas grape growers, they make about 20 award-winning wines.
William Chris Vineyards has live music every weekend and hosts frequent special events like cook-offs and wine seminars. Top Picks: Malbec Rosé and Enchanté, a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot
Grape Creek Vineyards
The first two things you encounter arriving at Grape Creek Vineyards are the limestone belltower and the banner telling you that you’ve just arrived at “Tuscany in Texas.” Once inside the Tuscan-style villa that overlooks the Fredericksburg vineyards, you can try any of the 14 varietals and blends on offer, take a further tour of the grounds and production area, or try out Stout’s Trattoria. On the weekends, you can enjoy a glass on the patio with live music.
Grape Creek Vineyards was one of the first vineyards here, opening its doors in the mid-1980s. Owners Brian and Jennifer Heath took over and expanded the winery in 2006, and it continues to be family-owned and operated.
Two of Grape Creek’s most well-recognized creations are the Viognier, which a staff member called, “everything that’s good about Texas–wildflowers, honey, and fruit,” and the Bellissimo–bold and spicy, reminiscent of Sangiovese. Both of these happened to be my favorites during my visit.
Grape Creek Vineyards doesn’t distribute, so it relies on its tasting rooms (including one on Main Street) and wine club for sales. If you can’t make it to Texas, check to see if yours is one of states they ship to. Top Picks: Viognier, Bellissimo (Super Tuscan)
Heath Sparkling Wines
The sister winery to Grape Creek, Heath Sparkling Wines offers something very different for the area—it only sells sparkling wine, and all of its bubbly is made using the traditional méthode champenoise technique perfected in the Champagne region of France. The grapes are crushed in Fredericksburg and then sent to California for secondary fermentation and finishing.
Heath Sparkling Wines is the first winery in Texas solely focused on making sparkling wines. A visit to its tasting room is the upscale experience you might expect to go with such refined wine—no children or pets are allowed, and groups are capped at four visitors.
A tasting in the winery’s sleek, window-filled tasting room provides an education in its traditional technique alongside a tasting of the four wines currently available. Each of the tastes is accompanied by a small bite to complement the flavors. We particularly enjoyed the golden-colored Ebullience, which has notes of honey and fruit.
Sparkling wines take two years to make, and Heath has experienced a significant demand, so bottles are only available for wine club members right now. Even if joining a wine club isn’t on your list of things to do, stopping here for a tasting is a unique experience. Top Picks: Ebullience (Pinot Grigio and Trebbiano) and Adoration (Pinot Noir and Chardonnay)
I had barely crossed through the front gate of Hilmy Cellars when I was met by the welcoming committee–three large sheep with black faces who seemed as momentarily perplexed by me as I was by them. Within a few seconds, I was old news and they went back to grazing among the vines. Once inside, I learned that the sheep–along with guinea fowl, a pair of friendly Great Pyrenees, and a few more animals–are all part of the team at Hilmy Cellars.
Each animal at Hilmy has its own job to do as part of the grape-growing and wine-making process, whether that’s eating the insects so owners Erik and Neldie Hilmy don’t need to use insecticides and pesticides, keeping weeds down, or protecting the vines from local deer. It’s all part of Hilmy’s biodynamic plan to do what’s best for the land in order to make the best wine.
This intriguing approach has a strong influence on the grapes and thus on the Hilmy Cellars wines (distinguished by the bird on the label), which are made entirely from Texas fruit.
In addition to the Hilmy Cellars label, Erik Hilmy a.k.a. wines are also available from the vineyard. These wines incorporate varietals from around the world, which feature the distinct characteristics of the terroir where they are grown. As with the other vineyards on Wine Road 290, Hilmy Cellars features live music and hosts special events that are listed on their website. Top Picks: Erik Hilmy a.k.a. Viognier, Hilmy Cellars Sangiovese
Bingham Family Vineyards
In its rustic chic tasting room right on Highway 290, Bingham Family Vineyards showcases its wines from the Texas High Plains. Grown and made entirely in Texas, Bingham wines have a heritage of excellence, coming from a family that has farmed in the state for four generations.
In the High Plains near Lubbock, owner Cliff Bingham grows over 20 varieties of wine grapes—including Trebbiano, Viognier, Tempranillo, and Merlot—on 245 acres. The large grape-growing operation not only supplies other wine makers but helps Bingham have one of the largest estate wine portfolios among wineries in Fredericksburg. We particularly enjoyed Dirt Farmer, a bold blend of five red grapes that goes with just about anything.
Bingham Family Vineyards doesn’t have the sweeping estate views that you’ll find at some of the nearby vineyards, but it’s an easy stop with lots of great Texas wine options. Charcuterie boards and other snacks are available to complement the wines. Top Picks: Trebbiano and Dirt Farmer (Tempranillo, Merlot, Carignan, Petit Verdot, and Cabernet Sauvignon)
Messina Hof Hill Country Winery
The thing that stands out most about Messina Hof Hill Country Winery is the sheer variety and quality of their wines. With more than 50 available options, the selection is rather mind blowing and further proof of what a great winery can achieve with Texas grapes.
We’ve been fortunate enough to visit two of Messina Hof’s locations — the Fredericksburg winery and the winery in Grapevine–and have tried about 20 of their offerings, so we have no doubt about the attention to detail that goes into everything they make. As part of the award-winning selection of Texas wine Messina Hof is known for, each of its locations has wines that are specific to that tasting room.
With over 40 years of wine-making experience in Texas, Messina Hof has been in Fredericksburg since 2011. The winery sits on about 10 acres along Highway 290, which includes its tasting room, standout Manor Haus B&B, and a vineyard of Black Spanish grapes (other grapes are grown at the original location in Bryan, Texas, and in the High Plains).
The winery is the perfect location for happy hour or an afternoon enjoying Messina Hof’s finest. Grab a wine and cheese plate and choose one of the dozens wines and head outside to the patio for a relaxing time. Top Picks: Gerwurtztraminer, Primitivo (Primitivo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Petit Syrah)
A spot on the patio under the trees at Signor Vineyards is a great place to spend a couple of hours on any trip to Fredericksburg.
With a Texas heritage and skills acquired making wine in Oregon for over 20 years, the long-time partnership of the Signor and Weisinger families has resulted in a unique winery that features a combination of Texas and Oregon wines. As a result, visitors can try everything from Oregon Chardonnay to estate-grown Petit Sirah.
Signor Vineyards opened in early 2018 and has increased its focus on Texas wine over that time with seven varietals currently planted in Fredericksburg. The tasting room menu typically offers 8-10 wine options with about half from Oregon and half from Texas. Sample some favorites alongside a charcuterie board or other snacks available from Johanna’s Market adjacent to the tasting room. Top Picks: Zinfandel and Estate Montepulciano
Barons Creek Vineyard
With fountains and ample outdoor seating areas, Barons Creek Vineyards has created an oasis right on Highway 290. This welcoming, family-owned winery offers wines from some of the world’s best grapes from Texas, Washington, California, and Spain.
Across the four different areas, Barons Creek works with vintners who make the wines to the specifications of their winemaker, Russell Smith. Smith’s own vineyards outside Barcelona supply the grapes used for Barons Creek’s Grenache and Carignan single varietals and blends. Other offerings range from Viognier to Cabernet Sauvignon. Top Picks: Sauvignon Blanc, Texas Merlot
Just 13 miles east of town, the first vines were planted at Woodrose Winery in 1999, making it one of the older Fredericksburg wineries. Since winemaker and owner Mike Guilette took over in 2005, he has been steadily honing the wines and expanding the production.
One of the smaller wineries, Woodrose Winery takes a unique approach to their tasting room. Guests sit at tables and choose from one of four menus that include all reds, all whites, all sweet wines, or a mix of red and white varietals and blends (aka Mike’s Flight).
The table service takes a bit longer than some of the stand-up tastings at other wineries, but it also allows for a little more relaxation. On nice days, guests spill out to the beautiful, oak tree-shaded patio to enjoy a glass (or two) with live music. Top Picks: Seven (Cabernet Franc and Tempranillo), Zinfandel
Where to Stay
Vineyard Trail Cottage: These 13 spacious cottages are well-positioned near several wineries. Guests have access to the Pedernales River and are surrounded by the beauty of the Hill Country.
Hoffman Haus B&B: A few steps from Main Street, staying in this cute B&B makes exploring downtown easy. Enjoy the homey atmosphere and breakfast delivered to your room.
A Barn at the Quarry: Stargaze from the hot tub and watch local wildlife from one of the five comfortable suites at A Barn at the Quarry. Enjoy the quiet of nature outside of town.
See more places to stay in Fredericksburg.
I was the guest of Pedernales Cellars, Becker Vineyards, Messina Hof, Lost Draw, Grape Creek Vineyards, and Hilmy Cellars. All opinions about fruity whites and full-bodied reds are my own. An earlier version of this article included Torre di Pietra winery, which has since closed.