Fredericksburg, a tiny town of 12,000 in Texas Hill Country, is the epicenter of what is slowly becoming known as the New Napa in Texas, unbeknownst to the rest of the world.
The reason this region is the wine community's best kept secret is that most of the wine is consumed within state borders, leaving outsiders oblivious to what may become North America's greatest wine region.
With hours upon hours of sun and great soil, Texas Hill County has perfect growing conditions for varietals better known in central Italy and France's Rhone Valley. Yet winemaking in Texas is a relatively new venture. Up until the mid-1970s the only wine coming out of Texas was by Franciscan monks on the coast, until a chemistry professor decided to experiment with winemaking in the university basement.
Today, Texas Hill Country is the second most visited wine tasting region in North American and top 10 in the world. Yet the region is just a fraction of Napa Valley with fewer than 50 vineyards and less than 300 in the entire state of Texas.
Much of the growth in wine development occurred during the recession. Fredericksburg has always been a destination dependent on tourism, but people visited to shop or experience the German heritage.
Beginning in the early 2000s a number of people moved from the West Coast to Texas Hill Country and bought land to develop ito vineland. Ranchers also realized they could profit by leasing their roadside property for wineries to plan vines and build tasting rooms, benefiting from the new industry while protecting a legacy of ranching tradition.
Winning numerous awards, Texas is making its mark in the international wine community. Yet to meet the new debutant requires a visit to Fredericksburg as product from great wineries like Pedernales Cellars is not available in Canada. If you were ever curious about Texas, here's another reason to go.
How to Get There: Fredericksburg is less than an hour and a half from both San Antonio and Austin. It's an easy day trip and makes for a great weekend away.
Where to Stay: For the full country experience stay at Rose Hill Manor, walking distance from Pedernales Cellars. There are also a number of great hotels and B&Bs right in Fredericksburg.
How to Get Around: If you don't have a designated driver it's best to leave the driving to someone else. There are a number of minivan and limousine tours that visit Texas Hill Country wineries, or the 290 Wine Shuttle offers a hop on hop off bus that runs every 20 minutes and stops at six wineries for only $20.
Taste Wine Like a Pro: Consider taking a wine tour mid-week, while the wineries are moderately busy during the week there are crowds up to four people deep looking for wine tastings. Take the civilized route and go on a Tuesday to avoid the crowds.
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One bite of Corkbuzz's lemon ricotta pancakes followed by a sip of German Riesling and you'll be sold. The sweetness of the wine works well with the sweet pancakes, especially when there's some citrus in there to even things out.
Eggs are traditionally a difficult food to pair with wine, Maniec told us. You want to stay away from tannins and oak, she says. Sparkling wine is a great option. We're in.
Corkbuzz's cornflake-crusted French Toast, which comes with seasonal jam and whipped cream, goes well with an oaky Pinot Noir. The oak in the wine melds with the berry and vanilla in the French toast, Meniac says, making for an exquisite pairing. Whether you'll be able to get up from the table afterwards is on you.
A wine like Gruner Veltliner, which is a "refreshing, medium-bodied, peppery white wine with stone fruit flavors," goes well with greens and vegetables. The wine is great for any vegetable frittatas or quiches, or the kale and apple salad on the menu you know you should order but probably won't.
A rosé can hold its own against a burger, but it's light enough for brunch. Corkbuzz offers a whole class on pairing burgers with rose, so you know the combination is a winner.
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