Fun in the Texas Wine Country

Every now and then my husband and I like to get out of the big city and take a road trip to the hill country.  One of our favorite spots is Fredericksburg.  When I was a kid I vaguely remember passing through the town during hunting season, and stopping for a meal at the Rathskeller on the way to the deer lease near Comfort.  But as an adult I can appreciate how the little road stop town has grown into a little mecca of wine, food, antiques and art.

They call it a 'barn' but no hay in sight!

They call it a ‘barn’ but no hay in sight!

For this excursion I decided we would stay off the beaten path outside of town.  There are plenty of lodging options in town within walking distance to shopping and restaurants on Main Street.  But I found this lovely converted ‘barn’ a few miles outside of town on VRBO.

Our welcome gift

Our welcome gift

The place has everything you could need, including two TVs with Dish satellite channels.  The hostess had made us a loaf of banana walnut bread as a welcome gift, and the kitchen was well-equipped if we wanted to stay in for dinner.  (Including mustard, a necessary condiment for the variety of sausages you can buy in town.)  I had made reservations for us at renowned local restaurant, the Cabernet Grill, which was just down the main road from our cozy barn.

The restaurant sits next to the Cotton Gin Village, a group of B&B cabins which are also owned by the chef/owner of the Cabernet Grill.      They look very nice, and might be a good option for a future trip, although not as private as our VRBO barn.  Known for offering the largest selection of Texas wines, the place is very popular on the weekends so a reservation is a must.  The food was very good, but come hungry, because it’s a Texas-sized serving of ‘we’re not counting calories’ kind of food.

After a quick stop by the H.E.B. for some provisions (cheese, sausage and crackers for dinner the next night) – we made our way back to the barn where we enjoyed a lovely fire.  Men love to build fires, or at least my husband does.  It must be his inner caveman coming out.  We had a sound night’s sleep on the pillow top bed and woke up rested and ready to explore some wineries.  (After breakfast of course!)

First stop, the Chisolm Trail Winery.  This little spot takes a little more effort to find than most of the other wineries – it’s west of town and south of 290.  The Old West theme goes from the name, to the decor, and on the labels of the wine bottles.

Brick oven pizza at Chisolm Trail - his and hers edition!

Brick oven pizza at Chisolm Trail – his and hers edition!

The wine is ok, but it’s better when accompanied by one of the brick oven-baked pizzas they make in the back.  Yum!  We ran into a couple who comes there specifically for the pizza.

Chisolm Trail is also known for their donkey mascots, Jack and Daisy.  Here’s Jack.  Or maybe Daisy.  I didn’t look too closely!

Jack.  Or Daisy?  One of their donkey 'mascots'

Jack. Or Daisy? One of their donkey ‘mascots’

 

We headed north toward 290 and then east through Fredericksburg itself toward where most of the ‘big’ vineyards are.  The 290 Wine Trail is a little calmer on Sundays (Saturdays are usually very busy), so that made it easy for us to get a tour of Grape Creek Vineyards.  Only one other couple had signed up for the tour so it was almost like having our own private tour and tasting.  The grounds are really lovely, dubbed as ‘Tuscany in Texas.’  If you like dessert wines, you must try their Muscat Canelli.  It is sweet but not heavy, making it a little too easy to drink!

Tasting from the barrel at Grape Creek

Tasting from the barrel at Grape Creek

 

Although there is a Grape Creek Restaurant just down the road from the vineyard, it is not under the same ownership as the vineyard.  They are planning to put casual restaurant into the main building at the vineyard (coming in Fall 2014), but in the meantime you can stop by their picnic shop to pick up all kinds of snacks to enjoy.  And if you’re a member of their wine club, you have access to the private patio and wine club lounge.  Even on a Sunday, it was packed with wine lovers enjoying a beautiful day.

It’s amazing how you think you are going to make it to every winery on your list, but after spending an hour and a half at Grape Creek we could hear our little barn by the creek calling our name.  So with our newly purchased Texas wines we headed back and enjoyed a tasty meal of sausage, cheese, crackers, and of course, mustard.

Check back here for our next adventure in the Texas wine country!  So much wine…so little time.

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