Around harvest time on Rising Star Vineyards' verdant acres, vines of chardonnay, merlot, and other Old-World grapes hang heavy, ready for their transformation into the small-batch wines the vineyard is famous for. As detailed in the Abilene Reporter-News, the grapes are trellised several feet off the ground, which owner Michael Oubre says “produces superior fruit” for their distinctive blends of Old-World flavor and Texan style. Their Salado cheesery and tasting room serves salads and sandwiches on locally baked bread for lunch, while vending cheese and other sundries exclusively made by Texas producers. In addition to cheese plates featuring fresh chevre from Bonney Goat Cheeses and Watonga flavored cheddars, the shop serves frozen wine margaritas to sip as talismans against the Samarian curses of the hot sun. The winery also holds regular wine-education and tasting classes, from a basic Wine 101 session to a food-and-wine-pairing session.
In Focus: Georgetown Winery
Open: Tuesday through Sunday
Vineyard: More than 3,000 vines across four acres
Grape varieties grown: tempranillo, cabernet sauvignon, lenoir, and concord
Award-winning wines: dozens of awards, including an ice wine that won Texas Class Champion in 2012
Red wines sold: include Capitol Red, pinot noir, and merlot
White wines sold: include chardonnay, pinot grigio, and viognier
Sweet wines sold: include apple, blackberry, pear, and blueberry
Dessert wines sold: include ice wine and jubilee reserve
Wine club membership: gets you two exclusive wines per quarter of the year
Dan Gatlin is a bona fide pioneer in the field of Texas winemaking. His father owned a chain of convenience and wine and spirits stores, which meant Dan was closely attuned to the rise of winemaking in California in the 1970s. In 1981, Dan took a shot at spurring the same type of enterprise in Texas, opening a small vineyard that would one day grow into the successful Inwood Estates Vineyards. Today the winery produces red and white wines that take advantage of Texas's distinctive terroir, or soil, to produce complex flavors.
After 22 years in the air force, Water 2 Wine–founder John McFadden established his first custom winery in San Antonio seven years ago. Already the business has spread as far as Milwaukee to the north and Denver to the west, bringing the country's vinophiles more than 100 wines, each of which are fermented on site and available for tastings every day. Those who want to get more involved in the crafting process may sign up to make their own wine and steep themselves in each step of the operation, from selecting the grape varieties, beginning the fermentation process, withstanding a wait of about 45 days, and finally christening their creation by smashing a tiny boat against the bottle. All custom-made wines are plastered with personalized labels made from one of Water 2 Wine’s templates or images that customers design from the ground up.
When Bell Springs Winery opened in July 2010, its mission was to add a fresh, new voice to winemaking in the Texas Hill Country. The 26-acre winery certainly accomplished that with wines like the Drippin' Sweet White, Tempranillo, and Sangiovese. Its varietals have proved popular enough to warrant releasing up to eight new wines every year and reaching an annual production capacity of 2,500 cases.
In the process, Bell Springs happened upon a separate mission: spreading the word about the region's great wines without pouring them directly into the local water supply. With that goal in mind, in 2015 it set up Sidecar Tasting Room on Old Fitzhugh Road, approximately 5 miles away from the vineyard itself. Here, as with the tasting room located at the vineyard proper, guests are invited to imbibe the winery's vino along with victuals such as cheese, meat, and olives.
Five Things to Know About Flat Creek Estate
Located about 20 miles east of Marble Falls, Flat Creek Estate sprawls across 80 acres in the Texas Hill Country. Despite its secluded location, the estate is constantly bustling with activity. Read on to learn more about what you can do at this hidden gem:
Guests are welcome to take self-guided strolls through the vineyards. Indeed, wine enthusiasts can explore the property’s ponds, gardens, and labyrinth of vines, but don’t forget to grab a map: it has descriptions of the soil, varietals, and historical tidbits about all the vineyard blocks.
The staff leads tours of the production facility. Tours take place on Saturdays and Sundays at 11 a.m., and they include a seated wine tasting, a souvenir wine glass, and, of course, a walk through the 10,000-case wine production facility.
Its wines are explored in depth during tasting experiences. Experts guide visitors through the Estate’s portfolio with conversation about the vineyards, facts about the wine-making process, and tips to get the most out of your tasting.
The kitchen serves up fancy bistro meals. Flat Creek Estate’s kitchen plates wood-fired lunch specials, lavish multi-course dinners, and even casual weekend brunches.
It has a sister wine bar—Flat Creek Enoteca. Flat Creek’s urban outpost is located on Highway 281 in Marble Falls. It features a wine bar, wine and appetizer pairings, and rustic bites from a wood-fired oven.