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Cheers, y’all: Texas wine off the beaten path

By Cynthia J. Drake
 
The Texas wine industry is growing larger every year, attracting awards and attention from wine drinkers who previously overlooked the Lone Star State as a top wine contender.
 
Texas is now the fifth largest producer of wine in the U.S. The state’s different grape-growing regions, from the Texas High Plains to the Hill Country, offer terroirs that are uniquely suited for growing Spanish, Italian and French grapes, including Sangiovese, Viognier and Tempranillo.
 
Though some visitors might already be familiar with Fredericksburg, the German hamlet located in Hill Country that attracts crowds of visitors each year to the state’s largest concentration of wineries and tasting rooms, getting off the path can yield some really excellent wine tasting experiences in Texas. Here is a road map to six of our favorite hidden gem Texas wineries.
 
Pedernales Cellars, Stonewall
 
Located just outside bustling Fredericksburg, you’ll find Pedernales Cellars, a family-owned boutique winery that specializes in Spanish and Rhone-style wines, such as Tempranillos and Viogniers. For a special occasion, treat yourself to one of the reserve wines and begin to understand what can make Texas wines so deliciously drinkable.
 
Messina Hof, Bryan
 
Messina Hof is one of the state’s oldest wineries, and it all began in a rural area of Bryan, located near Texas A&M University’s home in College Station. Messina Hof still maintains its estate winery here, along with a bed and breakfast, an on-site restaurant, and several events throughout the year, including the popular Harvest Festival (where you can even stomp grapes in your bare feet).
 
Zin Valley Vineyards, Canutillo
 
Located right at the Texas/New Mexico border just outside El Paso, Zin Valley offers a comfortable tasting room run by the family who owns and operates this small vineyard. Try their sparkling wine or their sweet Gewurztraminer and appreciate this unique region of Texas.
 
Burklee Hill Vineyards, Lubbock

Though the Hill Country is the region most affiliated with Texas wines, the High Plains is the workhorse with sunny days and cool dry nights allowing the perfect climate for the grapes to be grown. Lubbock is the focal point of that region and is home to several wineries, including a relative newcomer Burklee Hill, which hopes to usher in a new era of trendy West Texas restaurants, enticing younger generations of wine drinkers with Rosé and Montepulciano.
 
Westcave Cellars Winery, Round Mountain

Nestled near some of the best Hill Country hiking areas and swimming spots (just down the road from Hamilton Pool), you’ll find Westcave Cellars, a boutique winery that feels laidback and friendly, with a vast outdoor picnic area shaded by tall trees. Bring a picnic or order some light bites and choose from different wine varieties, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Tannat, Malbec and Viognier.
 
Bingham Family Vineyards, Grapevine
 
Grapevine, a small but festive town located in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex near the DFW airport, offers another quaint wine tasting destination, with several storefronts located downtown serving up Texas wines (not to mention the Wine Train, a culinary experience with wine pairings). Bingham Family Vineyards is a music-themed downtown winery that offers tastings and glasses of their 100 percent Texas wines, including Roussanne and Trebbiano.