Red Figures:~The Red Heart of Texas

There aren’t many places across the country where you can hit the links this time of year and expect decent weather. The typical day in January here in Austin, however, is crisp and sunny with an average high of 62. Not bad.

We have great music, food and an abundance of fantastic courses. When Wayne Mills wrote about Austin in November, he concluded that it is, indeed, a city that “lives up to its reputation.” What you may not know about Austin is that it is also becoming a top destination for wine lovers.

A short drive west of Austin, amid the rolling hills and Live Oaks, there are over 30 wineries. Some are relatively new, while some have been producing for decades. Whether you prefer bold reds or crisp whites, impressive estates or something quaint with a view, there is a wine and a winery for you.

Driftwood Trail is minutes from Austin and Grey Rock Golf Club. There are five wineries on the trail. Three wineries that I have visited are Salt Lick Cellars, Driftwood Winery and the Duchman Family Winery.

Bring a picnic and head to Driftwood Winery. The tasting room is warm and simple. After all, they don’t want to take away from the view. It overlooks a valley of vines with hills in the distance. They are currently producing four whites and seven reds. Big and bold, to soft and sweet, their wines have a range that accommodates any palate.

The Viognier and the Sangiovese are two of my favorites. Texas is producing some wonderful Viognier and there’s is no exception. The Sangiovese is a nod to a Super Tuscan. Combined with Merlot, it has great body and fruit while remaining bright. Stay for sunset and enjoy a slice of Hill Country heaven.

If you are looking for a winery that has a taste of Tuscany, look no further than the Duchman Family Winery. Dave Reilly knows what works in the Texas climate, and he does a wonderful job bringing out the best in each grape. Most wines are done in an Old World style, true to the grape with a balance of earth and fruit.

Reilly’s Vermentino is getting national attention and rightly so. This wine has great acidity and minerality, with notes of grapefruit and something floral. His Sangiovese and Dolcetto are perfect with Charcuterie.

The Montepulciano is just fantastic. It has very classic notes and would pair with any number of dishes. While tasting it, I was dreaming of meatballs in Marinara or steak and Arugula salad with Parmesan and lemon. There is a restaurant on site, Trattoria Lisina, which features classic Italian if the cravings become overwhelming.

Looking for a classic Texas experience? Try Salt Lick Cellars. Yes, that is THE Salt Lick with its world-famous barbeque. So if you plan on eating here, you may want to hit this one last. They do a variety of blends, four single varieties and a sparkling wine. Two blends are geared toward pairing with the barbeque, one white and one red. Other highlights include the Mourvedre, Tempranillo and Sangiovese.

These are just a few examples of why the Hill Country is gaining attention in the wine world. All of these wineries are just minutes from Austin, and this is just one of the wine trails. Whether you’re planning your next Golf trip to Texas, or call Central Texas home, make sure you plan some time for the Whites and the Reds between the Blues and the Greens.