You know that picture of a cowboy town created by Hollywood? A main street, lined with little shops, lots of room to tie up your horse, the friendly saloon, the friendlier folk who inhabit that little town in the hills of Texas…
I found it. In Fredericksburg. And a year later I have found it again. And I like it just as much the second time.
I found it thanks to a blog post by Lonestar Lauren. When I saw her pictures and read her essay, I knew a detour off Interstate 10 was in order.
Fredericksburg is way more than this little street, to be sure, but Main Street offers a thirsty traveler a handful of tasting rooms and the die-hard shopper boutiques and stores sure to empty your pockets. There’s a hint of German heritage, as well as Texas pride — an interesting mix you can’t miss as you wander this charming place.
I came with my daughter to try out the local wineries‘ tasting rooms, right here on Main. Chance took us to Fiesta Winery and Fat Ass. With time and a designated driver, I would have loved to spend the day sipping and talking wine up and down Main Street before making my way to the wineries along Route 290. (I’ll just have to come back, won’t I?)
We went to Fiesta Winery for a simple reason — it was the first one we saw. We stayed for a simple reason — fruity, delicious wine. Credit the shop’s hostess Victoria with helping us choose from their menu of 20 wines, mostly blends.
I started with Lone Star Lemon, kind of a wine-y lemonade. Crisp and sweet with a lemony finish; unusual but very drinkable. Texas Well Water (loved the names of their wines!) was a peachy pinot gris with a tart cranberry finish. We took this one home. But not before we tried a really cranberry-tinged Rhinestone Cowgirl blush, a raspberry-rich Southern Sparkle, a smoky dry Heart of Texas Red which blends my favorite Merlot and Syrah, and a Back Porch Sittin’ cabernet which fills the mouth with blackberry goodness. Everything was very fruit forward except that Heart of Texas. Lots of sweetness but with the layered flavors I didn’t feel like I was drinking fruit punch. We left very much impressed with our very first taste of Texas wine.
The second winery got our attention by its very name — and the proximity of its tasting room with Fiesta’s. Fat Ass Ranch and Winery produces only a few wines but oh these wines. Dry red and white, semi-sweet white and sweet red and a sweet peach that screamed for a back porch and a song.
The dry red was a serious, get-me-a-steak, ruby, rich wine. The white was crisp and perfect on a hot Texas afternoon. I’m not a fan of sweet wine — I say that but look how I waxed poet over the Fiesta wines — well, usually I’m not. But that peach really did have me thinking about breaking out into song.
While we thought it best to limit ourselves to two wineries, followed by lunch in a local establishment — and an hour or two of shopping in these lovely shops — we could have stayed all afternoon. We missed Fredericksburg Winery and Grape Creek, which are also downtown and could have happily made our way along Route 290 East, stretching from San Antonio to Fredericksburg, to taste some of Texas’s other vintages. The Texas Hill Country has wineries and vineyards sprinkled throughout this lovely countryside. The oldest is Bell Mountain, which is 20 minutes north of town, on Route 16.
More than a year ago, I said: Clearly, I need to return as soon as I can. And I most definitely hope I can.
And guest what? I came back. I had talked up this town so much it was the only way to spend a free day on a recent trip to San Antonio.
On this visit, my husband — a much more serious wine drinker than our daughter — and I returned to Fat Ass And Fiesta but we also found our way to several others.
Narrow Path is so new they are making wine with grapes from other vineyards in Texas and California. Good, dry wines, too. We got to Grape Creek this time for a taste of their Tuscan-inspired wines. This is the granddaddy of Texas Hill Country wines. Well worth a visit. And finally we visited Andreucci‘s tasting room for a taste of a different Hill Country wine. These wines aren’t born in Texas at all. They are imported from Italian hills. Try the prosecco. It’ll make you happy.
In fact, I was delighted to have a second visit to this charming place. We visited more shops, ate in a restaurant that celebrated the town’s German roots. Fun from beginning to end.
Ⓒ Text and photos Mary K. Tilghman
(updated Jan. 25, 2017)