The Texas Hill Country Revisited

25 May

Texas hill Country

True to Texan tradition, the Texas Hill Country AVA (American Viticulture Area) is the second largest certified Viticultural Area in America.  It has been named one of the top 10 wine destinations by Wine Enthusiast Magazine, and is replete with beautiful limestone hills, pristine creeks and hillside vineyards.

There are currently over 60 wineries in the region, which earlier this year collectively earned an impressive 204 medals, including 18 Double Golds, in the prestigious San Francisco Chronicle International Wine Competition.  As I observed last year, it was just 6 years ago that wine from the Hill Country earned their first Gold medal at this competition.  I am fortunate to spend a couple of weeks in the Hill Country each year to personally experience the continual increase in both quantity and quality of the area’s wineries.  Below are summarized a few of my favorite wineries and wines from this visit.

Perissos Vineyard and Winery


Perissos is a Greek word found in the Bible (Ephesians 3:20) meaning “exceeding abundantly, beyond what is expected, imagined, or hoped for.”   A boutique winery set in a beautiful valley near Longhorn Caverns, Perissos creates handcrafted wines from 100% Texas sources, the vast majority from their own estate vineyards.  The venue boasts beautiful views, a lovely spacious tasting room, and knowledgeable servers. (Tasting Room Manager Amy was great!)  They have won multiple medals in the San Francisco Chronical International Wine Competition.

  1. 2016 Viognier. A medium body, estate grown Viognier with a beautiful nose of Lavender and Honeysuckle.  On the palate, BIG peach notes tempered by zesty lemon peel and with a long finish of melon.  Benefitting from warm, sunny days, this is the best Viognier I have tasted in the Hill Country.
  2. 2015 Malbec. Red fruit and sweet tobacco backed by very soft tannins and a surprising (for this varietal) acidity.  A bit lighter in body than a typical Argentinian Malbec and a bit fruitier than those from Cahors France.
  3. 2015 Rackers Blend. A brilliant cherry color, this complex red is a blend of Aglianico, Tempranillo, Petite Sirah, Syrah and Malbec.  Strong tannic foundation with medium acidity and full body.  On the nose ripe cherries, pepper and, on the second swirl, a touch of leather.  A delicious red-fruit palate with a touch of spice and long finish.

Becker Vineyards

Located on the Hwy 290 wine trail halfway between Fredericksburg and Johnson City, Becker Vineyards began with an 1890’s era  log cabin and 46 acres of raw land about 1500 feet above sea level.  Now producing over 100,000 cases per year, their first harvest was in 1995, making Becker one of the original Hill Country wine pioneers.  This year the team at Becker won an impressive four Double Gold medals in the 2018 San Francisco Chronicle International Wine Competition.


  1. 2015 White Wing. A traditional Bordeaux white blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon.  This is a tasty white with old-world restraint.  Medium acidity and complex layers of stone fruit and citrus softened by light toasty oak.
  2. 2015 Tempranillo. This varietal thrives in the Hill Country, and Becker’s is delicious.  Over 14% alcohol, but the depth of dark fruit and sweet tobacco flavors camouflages the heat.  A refreshing acidity balances all of that and makes this a very food-friendly wine.

Zero 815

Of the many new wineries dotting the Texas Hill Country landscape, this is one to watch!  Founded by the late Karl Hogsett and his wife Laura, Zero 815 Winery is the culmination of their lifelong passions. The name “Zero 815” was inspired by Karl and Laura’s wedding anniversary, August 8, 2015.

Laura’s love for wine and her biochemistry background synergistically inform her ability to create truly exceptional craft wines.  The tasting room is cozy, set in the middle of a beautiful plot of land just off Highway 290 near the town of Hye.  Warm, friendly hospitality and fresh-grilled food is offered, and it’s fun to learn about Texas terroir and wines from Laura.  I tasted 6 wines here – all excellent.  My favorites:

  1. 2016 Hyeland White Blend holds its own against the big names in Napa: combining French, Italian and Spanish varietals (all grown in Texas of course) into a beautifully refreshing white with strawberry and peach notes and a tart citric acidity.
  2. 2014 Mourvedre is also wonderful: very light but with full red fruit on the palate and a long finish. A delightful winery to which I look forward to returning!

2 Responses to “The Texas Hill Country Revisited”

  1. Beth Brubaker May 27, 2018 at 4:12 am #

    The Hyeland White sounds very tempting! Great research, Bill.

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