Texas Hill Country, sandwiched just between Austin and San Antonio, might always be known more for its brisket than locally made Sauvignon Blanc, but the region’s burgeoning wine market has been picking up some serious street cred lately – and fashioning a decidedly sophisticated travel scene in this low-key state.
The transformation isn’t completely surprising: Hill Country’s more than 30 wineries are already the second-most trafficked in the country (trailing only California’s Napa and Sonoma Valleys), and the wines eked from the scorching climate regularly hold their own against European and West Coast varietals. But within just the last year, the fringe benefits of a bustling wine district – luxurious spas, eclectic boutiques, sustainable winemaking – have started to make this destination even more attractive to visitors.
Fall, when the Texas sun relents (a little) and winemakers release the first of the year’s vintages, is prime time for a visit, so we’ve scouted out three new chic additions to explore – though, we still recommend digging into some classic barbecue.
Herb Farm Cottages, Fredericksburg, TX
Originally scheduled for completion by spring 2010, the Fredericksburg Herb Farm finally opens the first six of its 14 B&B cottages, as well as its brand-new spa, October 1. Modeled after historic German “Sunday Houses” (homes that 19th-century farmers would use for overnight stays in town), the studio-sized cottages each come outfitted with king-size beds, microwaves, and a front porch with two rockers. The spa’s five treatment rooms will offer massages, facials, body wraps, and nail care, and the staff will source the namesake herb farm to concoct custom spa lotions and products.
Red in Fred, Fredericksburg, TX
Founded in 2006, Red in Fred, a Fredericksburg go-to for eclectic home décor, furniture, and one-of-a-kind retro finds, outgrew its first location and moved to a larger, airier Main Street storefront last May. Visit the brand-spankin’ new location to admire the larger, well-curated stock of eclectic items like vintage clock faces and hand-beaded jewelry.
William Chris Winery, Hye, TX
This Hill Country newcomer just opened its doors in 2009 and already sold out of some varietals. Blame it on owners Bill Blackmon’s and Chris Brundrett’s of-the-moment commitment to sulfite-free, sustainable wines, as well as the winery’s focus on premium vintages. The wines are all handcrafted in small batches, so visit early in the season to snag popular bottles (the Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon both sold out in 2009), and allow time to admire the property’s century-old farmhouse and 400-year-old oak grove.
See our Texas Hill Country Travel Guide for general trip-planning information, then use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find the lowest rates and travel deals on hotels, flights, vacation packages, and more.