Rex’s Top Hill Country Activities (Besides Wine)

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The Texas Hill Country is home to some of the best wineries, vineyards, and cellars in the state of Texas.  From the succulent Peach Wine at Fat Ass Ranch and Winery to the bold Tempranillo at Hye Meadow Winery, you are sure to find the perfect wine to get your taste buds tingling.  With over 40 wineries at your disposal, it might be hard to imagine that there could be any more activities to schedule in your next Hill Country visit.  I’ve compiled a list of my favorite things to do in the area.   Take these into consideration to make your next vacation a hit!

  1. Luckenbach, Texas. Is that coat and tie choking you? Come on down to Luckenbach to get away from the hustle and bustle for a while.  They might only have a population of 3, but don’t let that stop you!  The General Store, which is now home to a souvenir shop, has been in use since 1849.  On any given night you can find good music and ice cold beer.
  2. Fredericksburg Massage- Marla Buck. There is no better way to prepare for a long, hard day of wine tasting than a relaxation or deep tissue massage from the skilled hands of Marla Buck. Come in feeling run down by the Big City, but leave feeling revived and tranquil.
  3. Enchanted Rock. This is a great activity if you’re feeling a little outdoorsy. I would suggest planning this excursion the day before your wine tour. Enchanted Rock is a massive pink granite dome that rises above the Hill Country.  Its legends alone have drawn people to the formation for hundreds of years.  Legend tells us that there are many Indian Spirits that still remain attached to the rock.  Hike to the summit and decide for yourself if the legends are true, but be sure to pack plenty of water.
  4. Hamilton Pool. Looking for a cooler and wetter outdoor activity? Try the Hamilton Pool, located in Dripping Springs. This natural formation was created when the dome of an underground river collapsed due to erosion over 1,000 years ago. Its crystal blue waters make it a popular attraction, so be sure to make reservations before arriving.
  5. New Braunfels. Speaking of water activities, you must visit New Braunfels the next time you find yourself in the Texas Hill Country. This is a longer excursion, so you should definitely make it a day trip.  Take the time to relax and float the Comal or Guadalupe River, and end your day with a big meal at the Gristmill. The Gristmill is located in Gruene, but is located just down the road from New Braunfels.
  6. Shopping. Sorry guys, but Fredericksburg is home to excellent shopping that is sure to please the lady in your life. Men, get ready to hold purses; and ladies, get ready to shop until you drop.  With numerous boutiques and unique gift shops, you are sure to find the perfect item to commemorate your Texas Hill Country experience.
  7. Old Tunnel State Park. Old Tunnel State Park is a railroad tunnel of the Fredericksburg and Northern Railway, which ceased operations in 1942. It is now home to roughly 3 million Mexican free-tailed bats, and 3,000 cave myotis bats. Every evening, the bats can be seen emerging from their caves. This is an exciting experience for all ages.
  8. Friedhelm’s Bavarian Inn. You will be missing out if you do not feast on German cuisine while visiting the Texas Hill Country.  Friedhelm’s is my recommendation, as it boasts the most authentic flavors and dishes from Germany.

Give me a call and let’s get your next weekend get-a-way on the schedule!

Hahne Estates Winery

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Hahne Estates Winery is nestled in the small town of Johnson City, just 16 miles east of the even smaller town of Stonewall, Texas. Stepping into the tasting room is like stepping into a time capsule. There is a sense of tranquility in the air, and you begin to realize there is a rich history in each bottle of wine produced by Hahne Estates. As you approach the tasting bar, you will notice a peculiar wall to the right. At first glance it appears to be nothing more than a wall of old family photographs; and at its core, that is exactly what it is. A wall filled with old family photographs. Most would not think much of the wall; it’s simply an interesting accent to the décor.

After owner, Gary Hahne, pours the first glass of wine, he turns his back to select a few items out of a cabinet. He returns to the guests to show off an old photo album, some newspaper clippings, and a scarf. As the first taste of Hahne Estates Wine touches your lips, he begins to tell you his family history. Gary grew up in Stonewall, Texas on the property adjacent to the LBJ Ranch. His family had an extremely close relationship with the Johnson Family and with Lyndon B. Johnson himself. During the LBJ Presidency, the Hahne family attended and catered all of the LBJ events. Gary’s father, Kermitt, was the hub of all that took place in Stonewall. He had a strong desire to make visitors (primarily Air Force One pilots, secret service agents, and staff members) feel at home. Many returned to Stonewall to retire following the LBJ Presidency. After the death of LBJ and Kermitt Hahne, Lady Bird Johnson invited Gary’s mother to live at the LBJ Ranch.

The above mentioned scarf once belonged to Lady Bird and was a gift to Gary’s mother from the Johnson Family. The wall of photos is more than just décor. It is a tribute to Lyndon B. Johnson and the relationship between the Johnson and the Hahne Families. Each photograph represents a particular time in the LBJ Presidency and the Hahne Family can be found in each one.

Come to the Hahne Estates Winery, enjoy a glass of Opa (a rose wine named for Gary Hahne’s grandfather), and listen to the many tales of a wise man that has lived a life of adventure. You might come for the wine, but you will stay for the history.

Rex’s Top Wine Tasting Tips

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  1. Express Your Wine Preferences: Are your taste buds sweet or dry? Red or white? It’s important to let your tour company know ahead of time in order to arrange the best possible experience for you and your guests.
  2. Stay Hydrated: Like all alcoholic beverages, wine will leave you feeling dehydrated.  It’s important to counter that with plenty of water in order to enjoy your tour all day.
  3. Eat Snacks: It’s a good idea to snack along the way. A granola bar between wineries will keep you energized and help you to enjoy your tour all day.
  4. Eat a Good Breakfast: You don’t want to start a wine tour on an empty stomach! Be sure to eat a hearty breakfast before your guide takes you to the first winery. On that note, eat your entire lunch too if you’re on a long tour.
  5. Tasting Rooms Are Not Bars: We’re all here to have a good time, share laughs, and create memories. But individuals who have had too much to drink can ruin the experience for the entire group. Follow tips 2-4 to avoid being “the drunken friend.”
  6. Don’t Be Shy: The best part of a wine tour is, of course, the wine. But the next best thing is the people you meet in the wineries.  Many times, the people behind the bar are the owners or winemakers.  They are a bottomless source of knowledge and interesting stories.
  7. Leave the Breath Mints at Home: Breath mints or gum will drastically alter the taste of the wine…and not for the better. Brush your teeth and floss in the morning and keep that palate clean for the wine.
  8. Check the Weather: Sure it’s usually sunny in the Texas Hill Country.  But you don’t want to be stuck in the rain without an umbrella.  Dress appropriately for the weather.
  9. Tip Your Server or Driver: Be sure to tip your server if you feel like you received good service. Remember, they are taking care of you while you are constantly consuming wine throughout the day.  Be sure to show your appreciation.
  10. Buy a Bottle: If you particularly enjoyed a certain wine don’t be afraid to take it with you. When you decide to open the bottle at home, memories of your wine tour experience will come flooding back, and you will be counting the days until your next 19th Hole Wine Tour.