Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Texas Hill Country: No sour grapes

Wine tasting is popular.

Trips through the Texas Hill Country often begin in Fredericksburg. The burgeoning wine industry in Texas is centered around the area which its German settlers had already made famous by their beer brewing. Between the two, it attracts throngs of city-dwelling Texans on weekends and Hill Country tourists all of the time.

With so many steady visitors, you know there's a lot worth seeing and tasting.

Main street, anchored by the popular Fredericksburg Brewing Company where you ought to try the food and a flight of their best brews, is full of Texas chic, wine tasting rooms and trendy boutiques. After lunch there you'll welcome the stroll.

Stray a few blocks left or right and you'll find more galleries,historic buildings and homes, the National Museum of the Pacific War and August E's which has to be one of the best restaurants in the state and destination-worthy all by itself.

Hop in the car and tour the country's fastest growing wine region. Don't be embarrassed if you haven't heard about it; as with many European wine growing regions, visitors and the locals consume the lion's share of the finished product. There are 21 wineries from which to choose. Ken Maxwell at Torre di Pietra adds music to the mix on many weekends, Stone House Vineyard's main building is of interest architecturally and a number of vineyards have B&Bs on or near their property.

Tip: Fredericksburg is worth an overnight or more. Those vertically inclined can mountain climb in Enchanted Rock State Natural Area while Levelers are savoring wine, wonderful food as well as the herb gardens and lavender producing farms the area is also known for.

The Luckenbach, Texas of Willie and Waylon fame is nearby and a big draw day and night, but especially on Friday nights when the dance hall is full. It can be rented for special parties so check the schedule so you won't be disappointed. This is also LBJ territory, another reason to stay awhile, and the Pedernales is the river that runs through it.

Tip: If you visit Luckenbach at night, check the rafters over your head. Chickens roost there.


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