Take Your Own Hill Country Wine Tour
Did you know Canyon Lake’s within an hour’s drive of 67 Texas Hill Country wineries?
Or that local businesswoman Jennifer Sterling created a souvenir Texas Hill Country Wine Map that shows you exactly where to find them?
While driving the Texas Wine Trail earlier this year, visiting wineries (for fun) she thought, “wouldn’t it be cool to make our own map?”
Sterling owns sterlingwineonline.com. She wanted to create an ad-free product that depicted the full-bodied flavor of Texas vineyards and winemakers.
She and husband Lance hired a California artist to paint watercolors of each winery/tasting room within a stone’s throw of Fredericksburg. An online, interactive version, displays hours and images of each winery.
An online blog helps visitors learn the basics of Texas wines.
But Which One?
The overall result makes it easy to find Hill Country wineries but difficult to decide which to visit.
“Wine is good, but it’s the location, sitting back and looking at their view or their patio area, and enjoying the atmosphere,” she says. “That’s what makes our map unique.”
Theirs, she explains, is a labor of love born of many visits to the artisans coaxing new bodies of wine from grapes grown in a hot climate that’s very different from Napa Valley.
The Sterling’s original goal was to graphically depict all 400 Texas wineries — which just doesn’t work on a 24″ x 36″ work of art. So they narrowed it down to 67 wineries. As of mid-December, they’ve visited all but five of the wineries on the map.
And each of the 62 is as unique as its painting on the map.
German Winemaking Techniques
In Johnson City, at Hahne Estates Winery, she met with a winemaker who uses his grandfather’s German winemaking techniques. At Santa Maria Cellars in Fredericksburg, the Sterlings met Argentina native Martin Santamaria, who makes the “biggest, boldest reds I think you can get in Texas.”
At Driftwood Estates Winery between Drippings Springs and Wimberley, she and her husband sipped wine while enjoying one of the most beautiful valley views in Central Texas.
The Calais Winery in Hye is a traditional “wine cave” dug into the side of a hill. There, Sterling said her small group of eight actually got to meet with the winemaker instead of servers.
“When I drove by the property, there was nothing there. Then you drive in. His building is built into the ground. He was really incredible to visit with.”
“There are so many neat stories, so much passion and fun to be had,” Sterling says.
There’s nothing snobby about Texas vintners, either.
“Most of the wineries have a great variety. Just go and try them. You don’t know what you will like unless you try,” she says. “They offer five tastings, moving from sweeter or lighter to heavier red wines. If you tell them you’re new to wine, they’re very good about explaining and will let you know what you’re tasting. If you don’t like it you can pour it out.”
With an infectious laugh, Sterling says she’s open to phone calls.