When you think of “wine country” you probably think of Napa Valley, California or Bordeaux, France. You probably don’t think of Texas.
I grew up in San Antonio but spent most of my adult life in other places. Over the years, I’ve developed a love for fine wine. I’m a teensy bit of a wine snob, but good wine doesn’t have to be expensive or pretentious, especially in Texas.
When we first moved back to San Antonio in the fall of 2014, I happened to see an article about the 290 Wine Road in the newspaper. I convinced my husband we should go check it out…and it really did not take that much convincing. Because wine.
If you’re interested in wines from the Fredericksburg area, check out the 290 Wine Road for information on 15 award-winning wineries. We’ve been to several of these and have been disappointed by none, but our favorite, by far, is Grape Creek Vineyard.
Grape Creek Vineyard is our most-loved day trip/date day venue. It’s also a popular spot for birthday and bachelorette parties, which always makes for some good people-watching.
We live just north of San Antonio, and it usually takes us a little more than an hour to get to Grape Creek. We typically go early on Saturday or Sunday, so the traffic usually isn’t a problem. It’s actually a really nice drive.
Grape Creek has a wine for every palate. If you’re new, I recommend you do the tour and tasting, which runs $30 per person. You get to see some really cool behind-the-scenes wine-making stuff that will make you wish you’d paid more attention in chemistry class. You get to taste some of the wines still in the barrels, and you get some very nice, personalized attention and an opportunity ask questions about the wine. The tour ends with a really fun tasting that gives you an opportunity to sample the types of wines you enjoy.
If you want to skip the tour and go straight to the tasting, the cost is $15 per person. I’ll vouch for that $15 being well spent. You get to select six wines from the menu, followed by a generous sample of each along with some pairing tips from a friendly Grape Creek employee who knows about wine. After the tasting, you can purchase your favorite to enjoy onsite or buy a few bottles to take home—or both!
My favorite is the 2014 Viognier. It’s a rich, golden wine that pairs well with chicken bacon ranch pizza….or just about anything else.
Both the tour and tasting fees are refundable if you join the Grape Creek Wine Club. Wine club members commit to buying a certain number of bottles per year—always from a selection of wine that suits your palate—which you can either pick up or have shipped. It doesn’t cost anything to be a member, other than the cost of your purchases. You get access to members-only events, free tastings, and a discount on purchases. And did I mention the members-only wine patio open year round? How cool is it to sit outside in December and enjoy a glass of wine while looking out at the vines? Not that they’re often needed, but space heaters adorn the patio so you’ll always stay comfortable.
You bet your bippy we are club members.
The staff at Grape Creek are warm, welcoming, and very knowledgeable about wines and pairings. Our favorite is Mary, who usually works out on the members’ patio. She’s sweet and welcoming, and you’ll enjoy learning about wine with her—and, of course, drinking it.
Grape Creek has a Trattoria with an Italian-themed menu. Their gift shop also sells munchies that pair well with wine. You are free to bring in a cooler and break out your own snacks, too.
Grape Creek Vineyards has pet-friendly and family-friendly areas. While the wine tasting is an adults-only activity, there is an area where families can sit together and enjoy food and sunshine, because face it, people: in Texas, there’s always sun.
My husband and I go about once every other month. We look at the cool stuff in the gift shop, chat with Mary on the members’ patio, and indulge in some chicken bacon ranch pizza. Although there are family areas, we’ve never taken our family; Grape Creek is our time. We factor in six hours of babysitting to go eat lunch and chill out, and it’s worth every penny.
If you’re looking for a fun, new activity to try out, go check out Grape Creek Vineyard. It’s also a great place to put on your bucket list for when you have company coming to visit.
I’ve never been to Napa Valley—that’s on my big bucket list, and I hope I get to go one of these days—but I bet Texas wines give California wines a run for their money.
The temperatures in San Antonio are dropping just a little bit. Early fall is the best time to visit Grape Creek, but there really is no bad time to visit. Go check it out, and if you run into Mary pouring wine on the club members’ patio, tell her Jill sent you!
Cheers, but please drink responsibly and have a driving plan. If you want to make a weekend of it, there are plenty of B&Bs, hotels, and shuttle services between the wineries.