The Definitive Guide to America's Most Unexpected Great Wine Destination

The 290 wine trail, through the Texas Hill Country, offers many good things to drink (along with occasional deception)

This article is about wineries on, or near, U.S. 290

Rancho Ponte Vineyard: An odd duck. Wines are made in Texas, but the fruit is from New Mexico — grown in a family member’s New Mexico vineyard. The Hill Country just provides a tasting room. No plans for Texas wine according to the tasting room personnel. Texas is just a market.

Tasting sheet: Origin of the wine not marked.

Winemaker/viticulturist/expert around to talk details: No.

Special Amenities: None apparent.

Lost Draw Cellars: Lost Draw Cellars is the winery part of grape-grower Andy Timmons’ expanding wine commitments. He started as a cotton and peanut farmer in the High Plains, but branched out into grapes in 2006 with his Lost Draw Vineyard. His plantings and management contracts now make him the largest grape farmer in the state (with over 500 acres). He started Lost Draw Cellars with partners as the winemaking side of the business. The wines are made in Lubbock by Kim McPherson but the main tasting room is in Fredericksburg. Smart situating. Since Timmons grows over 30 grape varieties, who knows what will pop up next? Right now the tempranillos are good. Effective with the 2015 vintage, the wines are 100 percent Texas.

Tasting sheet: Origin of the wine clearly marked.

Winemaker/viticulturist/expert around to talk details: Yes.

Special Amenities: Monthly events calendar.

100 percent Texas wine.

Fredericksburg Winery: Set in a former store on Fredericksburg's Main Street, this long-established winery is in a perfect walk-to location. They offer a huge range of wines (24), and give them proprietary names (for example, Cuvée I) that make it hard to know what each one is. Varietal labeling would be simpler. The wines are 100 percent Texas, a fact that is stated loud and clear on signs and on the company website.

Tasting sheet: Origin of the wine clearly marked.

Winemaker/viticulturist/expert around to talk details: Yes.

Special Amenities: Unknown.

100 percent Texas wine.

wine

Andrew Chalk

Pontotoc Vineyard

Pontotoc Vineyard: A relatively new winery (first release in 2009). Founder Carl Money teamed up with winemaker Don Pullum (who made impressive wines for Sandstone Cellars) to make distinctive wines from 100 percent Texas fruit. Current output is 1,300 cases per vintage and Money says that this will only rise to 3,000 to 5,000. He wants to remain small and focused. The three wines that are currently available, a 100 percent estate tempranillo and two tempranillo blends are all 2014 vintage and have won medals at the Houston Rodeo International Wine Competition.

Tasting sheet: Origin of the wine clearly marked.

Winemaker/viticulturist/expert around to talk details: Yes.

Special Amenities: Special events. For example, New Year’s Day traditional Texas black-eyed pea and cornbread meal (along with roast pork). We attended this and can recommend it for the camaraderie and chance to meet the Money family and the winemaker.

100 percent Texas wine.

Chisholm Trail Winery: Not yet tasted.