Fall Creek Vineyards
Fall Creek Vineyards offers table side wine service with a Wine Bites menu in the tasting halls at both their Driftwood and Tow locations. The menu features Ed and Susan Auler’s favorite cheeses including aged Greek cheese, gorgonzola and smokey Swiss served a la carte, and a build-your-own charcuterie with items such as beef sausage from Miller’s Meat Market. The menu also includes weekly appetizer offerings like pimiento cheese spread, hummus with red bell pepper oil, and tarragon blue cheese deviled eggs among other delicious items prepared by Chef Rafael Berduo of Austin Catering.
Wine Bites are paired with Winemaker’s Tastings, a daily feature showcasing recent vintages of wines by the glass or bottle. There are weekly wine specials, as well as a wine or two on Coravin for those wine collectors seeking a special tasting of exclusive wines such as Fall Creek Vineyards ExTERRA Tempranillo, Salt Lick Vineyards, 2017, which James Suckling scored 93 points. The Driftwood winery is open 7 days a week, while Tow opens Friday through Monday.
Photography courtesy of Kuhlman Cellars
Kuhlman Cellars began as the project of Chris and Jennifer Cobb, who envisioned an estate vineyard that would produce terroir-driven wines. Teaming up with French winemaker and Texas wine pioneer Bénédicte Rhyne, Kuhlman opened its doors in 2014, on the Hwy 290 Wine Trail between Fredericksburg and Johnson City. Kuhlman Cellars has an intimidate barrel room and lovely wine garden to enjoy tastings, as well as a rooftop balcony with sweeping views to enjoy the vines and a glass of wine.
The wines are made in Old World-style reflecting Rhyne‘s heritage, and are dry, well-balanced offerings made from grapes grown at the Hill Country estate and vineyards in the High Plains. Kuhlman’s tasting room has been known for its unique approach to its signature wine tastings, which consist of a 45-minute guided tasting of five wines and paired bites with one of their expert sommeliers. The wines, which on their own are outstanding, are even better when paired with these chef-prepared bites — Kuhlman is passionate about educating its visitors so that they can make the best pairing decisions for their wine at home.
To further enhance the tasting room visit, the team has recently added a bistro menu featuring snacks, entrees and desserts by Kuhlman Cellars Executive Chef Chris Cook. “The wine and food experience has always been a defining element of Kuhlman Cellars,” says co-founder Jennifer Cobb. “Our new Bistro offerings allow us to build on that, and to encourage our guests to slow down and savor the magic of food and wine pairings.” Anyone with a tasting reservation will be able to enjoy a bistro selection afterwards.
The menu offers wine pairing suggestions for each dish. Expect entrees such as goat cheese mousse topped with bacon and served with potato chips and roasted chicken salad sandwich on French bread with spicy mango chutney, pickled carrots, sweet onions, shaved lettuce, jalapeño and cilantro. A Kuhlman Sampler is also available, which includes various savory bites and a chocolate cheesecake. For those wanting lighter fare, try a charcuterie plate with salami, prosciutto, cheese, Kuhlman Cellars’ signature herbed almonds, duck rillettes, fruit and crackers. Select meats and cheeses are also available a la carte.
Another reason to visit Kulhman this month is the limited release of the 2017 vintage of Ignis, a very special flagship Texas red wine that can only be made in exceptional vintages. The stars must align for this wine — there will be no 2018, 2019 or 2020 release. It’ll be a while until the next Ignis release. It’s a big, robust, highly tannic, Old World red wine, a blend of Tempranillo, Malbec and Cabernet and 100% Newsom Vineyards fruit. It should be paired with a big juicy ribeye or anything rich and fatty.
William Chris Vineyards
Photography by Madison Boudreaux
Since 2008, William Blackmon and Wine Enthusiast 40 Under 40 honoree Chris Brundrett have partnered with family-owned farms and expanded their Hye estate vineyards to source only the highest quality fruit. At William Chris, they pride themselves on sharing the taste of Texas terroir, integrating farming, tradition and local culture to deliver a one-of-a-kind winery experience.
Years before social distancing, William Chris has offered tastings by appointment. “We created a Welcome Center to properly greet and convey our genuine gratitude for the visit. Our focus is to create meaningful, intimate experiences that last a lifetime,” says Tasting Room Manager Luke Hricik. “Reservations allow our team to design experiences and provide tastings as unique as the individuals enjoying them.”
Among the silver linings found during Covid, the team at William Chris made design changes which have benefitted and elevated spaces, and the tasting room closure provided an opportunity to finish new projects and improve existing buildings. “Both indoors and out, we can safely and organically socially distance,” says Hricik. “Our landscaping has been designed to create beauty and direct the flow of movement on our estate, and furnishings were selected to provide comfort, aesthetic value, acoustic support and functionality. Every element of interaction on our property has been thoughtfully curated.”
Among the new offerings is a Library Wine Experience which takes visitors on a guided journey through some of WCV’s most impactful wines, vineyards and vintages from across the state, showcasing the varying terroirs and vintages. This 90-minute experience is only available Friday, Saturday and Sunday, or by request. For a more relaxed option try the wine and food pairing curated by Chef Josh Tye, featuring small bites built around seasonal ingredients — including some from the onsite kitchen garden — that pair perfectly with the current wine releases.
Lost Draw Cellars
Photography courtesy of Resplendent Hospitality
This Fredericksburg winery, committed to producing quality wines that highlight the unique terroir of the Texas High Plains, is now offering Reserve Tastings including two select tasting flights served with small bites and charcuterie boards. Wines included in the tasting are the 2018 Grenache Rosé (Texas High Plains), 2019 Vermentino (Lost Draw Vineyard), 2019 Concrete-Aged Counoise (Farmhouse Vineyards), 2018 Tempranillo (Texas High Plains) and 2018 Zinfandel (Timmons Estate Vineyard).
The cheeses, sourced from and Antonelli’s Cheese Shop, are specifically selected to pair with the bright acidity and soft tannins in Lost Draw Cellars’ white and red wines. The rich, fatty salamis help to soak up the tannins in LDC’s reds. The Reserve Tasting charcuterie board also includes calabrese and soppressata salamis, Carmona olives, salted Marcona almonds, sundried Turkish apricots and “everything and more” crackers.
“We pair our select wines and charcuterie options to enhance the tasting experience, and we’ve chosen food items that best complement the wines we serve,” says Casie Ward, General Manager at Lost Draw. “As we change our wine tasting menu to reflect new releases and seasonality, we also change our charcuterie and small bite options so that the pairings highlight the different structures in each wine — for example, pairing our full-bodied and fruity Grenache Rosé with a spicy, intricately flavored cheese like Gran Queso. Our tasting room managers are also available to talk through the tasting notes and expand on different pairings guests can test and enjoy from the comfort of their own homes if they want to purchase a bottle or two for later.”
Photography courtesy of Cabernet Grill
Visiting wineries is a fun and educational experience, but if you want to get it all in one place, try the Cabernet Grill in Fredericksburg. Described by Chef-Owner Ross Burtwell as a Texas Wine Country restaurant, Cabernet Grill serves elevated Texas cuisine superbly prepared using fresh local ingredients. Burtwell looks to the surrounding areas for produce, cheeses and meats, serving as much local fare as possible.
When Cabernet Grill opened in 2002 the wine list incorporated a few of the most popular Texas wines interspersed with well-known labels from elsewhere. Slowly, Burtwell began the transition to a 100% Texas wine list, which currently features 160 wines including 40 single varietals, with nine whites, three rose and 10 reds by the glass.
“We have been supportive of the Texas wine industry for a long time,” says Elizabeth Rodriguez, General Manager and Wine Director, who has been part of the Cabernet Grill Restaurant since 2005. “Texas wines are more varied, more abundant and better quality than ever, and we are very fortunate to have a great connection with a lot of winemakers. I often meet with them and taste through some amazing wines that end up on our wine list.”
Rodriguez looks for diversity on the list and showcases many varietals as well as unique blends. “We challenge ourselves to find wines that pair with our unique Hill Country cuisine,’’ she says The fact that our guests trust our guidance in finding their perfect match really shows the importance in educating our staff by visiting wineries, meeting with winemakers and conducting weekly tastings and parings of the wines and food we serve.”
“It’s exciting to see how far the Texas wine industry has come in the past 15 years,” says Burtwell. “Just look at the some of the awards the wines have received in the past few months. It’s fabulous to see these wines get the recognition they deserve. You can see from these wines that the industry is focusing on the right grapes for our Texas terroir.”
Reservations are highly recommended for these favorites and can be made online or by calling the wineries.