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All About the History of Texas Hill Country Wine

vineyard
February 7, 2024

Are you ready to sip back and relax? If you have plans to visit Texas Hill Country, chances are you’ll want to explore one of the area’s biggest specialities: wine! Winemaking in Texas has an extensive history dating back centuries. Today, Texas Hill Country wine is one of the most sought after in all of America thanks to delicious homegrown flavors crafted with care in growing conditions perfectly suited for flavorful grapes. Continue reading as we explore the history of Texas Hill Country wine:

History of Wine in Texas

wine and charcuterie

The first vineyard ever established in North America was right here in Texas! Around 1662 Franciscan missionaries started growing grapes along the banks of the Rio Grande near El Paso, Texas. Thus began the incredible history of Texas Hill Country wine, more than 100 years before the first grapes were grown in California!

By the turn of the century, Texas was believed to be home to about 2 dozen wineries. Winemaking operations continued to grow throughout the 1800s as European settlers arrived in Texas, developing mission outposts and bringing with them grapevine cuttings.

When prohibition began in 1920 almost all of Texas’ wineries went out of business. Val Verde Winery in Del Rio was able to survive these dark times by selling table grapes. After prohibition was struck down in 1933, wine began to make an impressive comeback across the state of Texas, including Texas Hill Country. Today, you’ll find more than 60 different wineries dotting Texas Hill Country!

Largest AVA in Texas

The state of Texas is currently home to 8 different American Viticulture Areas (AVA), or grape-growing regions with distinctive features related to geography, climate and soil that distinguish it from other areas. The largest of these areas in the state is Texas Hill Country, spanning over 9 million acres or 14,000 square miles! It’s the third-largest AVA in the United States. Established in 1991, the Texas Hill Country AVA is split into 2 sub-regions: Fredericksburg and Bell Mountain.

Texas Hill Country wine has won numerous awards both locally and internationally! At least 85% of the wine must come from grapes grown in the region in order to be advertised as AVA on the label.

While the area was founded by German settlers, many of the grapes grown in Texas Hill Country originated from France, Spain or Italy. These wines vary in type, including but not limited to Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Sangiovese, Tempranillo, Chardonnay, Merlot, Tannat and more.

Wineries in Fredericksburg

grapes hanging at vineyard

You’ll have no problem finding a wonderful winery to visit here in Fredericksburg! It’s only right you check them out the next time you visit Texas Hill Country!

Becker Vineyards is one of the oldest wineries in Texas Hill Country, setting up shop in 1992 and eventually becoming the third-largest in Texas. Its 46 acres are filled with vineyards, lavender fields and a tasting room housed inside of a 19th-century German stone barn.

Fredericksburg Winery was established in 1996 and makes all of its wines in-house and with Texas-grown grapes. Grape Creek Vineyards, Safari Winery, Barons Creek Vineyards, Messina Hof Hill Country Winery and the Texas Wine Collective are a few of the spots worthy of checking out!

The history of Texas Hill Country wine is certainly an interesting one! Before you head out to explore the many wineries in the area, take a look at our guide to wine tasting in Fredericksburg!

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