290 Wine shuttle – My Winespill
Fredericksburg 290 wine shuttle birthday tour
This is our first time on the 290 wine shuttle. I love the idea of the hop on hop off shuttle so everyone can enjoy the tastings without worrying about a designated driver. The central Texas wineries on the shuttle stops are lush with some of the best wines in Texas. A great way to visit multiple wineries and not have to worry about driving. My picks for this first trip include Wedding Oak Winery, Becker Vineyards, Fat Ass, Messina Hof and Six Shooter. Nothing like a speed dating trip with wine across highway 290 in central Texas. We are planning a meeting from 4 cities, my brother and his wife are flying from Minneapolis connecting with their daughter and her husband in Austin, my daughter is driving in from Fort Worth and my husband and I will make the trek north from Timberwood Park, north of San Antone.
A double birthday celebration
Let’s cheer to the August girls, hold a glass high and have some cookies. A wine trail tour is definitely a fun birthday celebration. For this fun-filled wine tour I had my friend and owner of WildChild BakeShop, Victoria Soto, make us these beautiful wine tour/birthday cookies. Delicious! If you need a themed party cake or cookies check her out on Instagram.
Hop-On/Hop-Off 290 Wine shuttle
A shuttle service that operates every Saturday from 10:00 am – 6:00 pm between Fredericksburg, TX and the Wineries located along HWY 290 East. The shuttles run continuously and stop every 10 minutes so you can join us at anytime. The pick up location is the Inn at Barons Creek, at 308 S. Washington Street (one block south of Main Street).
Definitely worth the $30/person we paid. Large groups of more than 8 are encouraged which makes for the perfect party afternoon. Remember that most wineries require reservations for large groups, so book before you go. If you want to make it to more than one winery, allow for at least 30 minutes per tasting. Any purchases of wine or souvenir wine glasses you ate
We saw all the wineries on the route even though we didn’t stop at all of them. Every winery has its own personality, terroir, and style of winemaking which will bring me back until I have toured them all. There are over 50 unique and visually stunning wineries scattered throughout the Hill Country, from Austin to Fredericksburg and Lampasas to New Braunfels. Not all of them are on the 290 wine trail, but all equally desirable destinations. Of the 14 wineries on the 290 wine trail, we tasted at the following wine stops.
First stop was at Barons Creek Vineyard, this is the place you will want to take your photos, you will get the chance to have every shot give you a special backdrop of sophistication. From the vineyards to the Spanish style tasting house and grounds, you’ll have ample opportunities to capture a memory.
Be sure to make reservations
We walk in, all 7 of us, and the winery went out of their way to accommodate us. There were 4 spots on one side of the tasting bar and 3 spots on the other side, but they let us all squeeze in on the 4 open spots so we could enjoy tasting together. There are 3 categories of tastings you can choose from, all white, all red or combination of the two. Our server was one of the owners who make the wine and told us all about the grapes that were used to make each pour. I found the Tempranillo to be my favorite.
Texas grapes are used to make many of their wines and they also use vintners from Washington, California, and Spain. The winemaker, Russell Smith sets the standards high with his protocols for fermenting. Fermenting should take place as close to the vineyards as possible to ensure the high quality of wine that they produce and you will taste the very sunshine that kissed the grapes as they hung on the vine.
Our second stop on the 290 wine shuttle we decided would be at Becker Vineyards. I have been driving by signs to this vineyard going north on Hwy 281 for years noting in the back of my mind that I want to stop and have a taste. The power of branding put it on my original list of stops and I’m satisfied that we did. It was the experience you would expect from a twenty-year contender.
Do Not treat the tasting room like a Bar
The tasting bar was loud and I found myself speaking over my group of seven, and I do not have a loud voice. I guess my attempt at speaking up came out as a shout because the young man supplying our pours reminded me that my behavior was not appreciated. Whaat, I wasn’t rude, but I guess there must have been a noise meter that I set off. I love the Becker Vineyards labels and the German-style stone barn winery they’re displayed in. This old-style architecture is prevalent in the Texas Hill Country and is fitting to the rolling hills throughout central Texas.
A Riedel Souvenir Wine Glass
They offer a nice Riedel souvenir glass with your tasting experience. If you would like a more in-depth experience, book a behind the scenes tour of the production area, and sip from tank and barrel with wine and cheese pairings. This sounds like another excursion to sip winery exclusive wines that I cannot buy at other local wine retail stores.
Our final stop on the 290 wine shuttle was Messina Hof, a beautiful French chateau-style architecture. Before I continue with my description of this winery, I want to state that my limit should be 2 wineries a day, everyone is different so don’t overdo what your limit is. At this point, I am glad to be on the 290 wine shuttle.
The TAsting Room
The tasting room is spacious and they allow you to pick your own wine and pay with a poker chip. We met two other birthday girls and had a fun little meet and greet. There is a reserve selection of ultra-premium and exclusive Messina Hof Hill Country wines that are available only at this winery location, my favorite was the “Beau” which I purchased in a growler so I can return and refill next time I’m in the neighborhood.
Messina Hof Vineyard
The birthday girls found another set of birthday girls celebrating in style. Messina Hof is certainly full of style, the tasting room is elegant and bright with a modern rustic style.
Messina Hof has a vineyard out in Bryan, TX, near College Station and Texas A&M University. I imagine the owners never anticipated becoming pioneers of a growing Texas wine industry, nor did they realize it would become the 5th largest grape producing state in the United States. With encouragement from a Texas A&M graduate student studying grape feasibility in Texas, they planted Messina Hof’s first vineyard of one acre with 5 trial varieties. Winning awards and fine-tuning their craft and passion to places as far away as Japan, and as close to home as the Hill Country they have made their place in the wine industry. I have a strong draw to this winery because my daughter is a graduate of Texas A&M in College Station and we are loyal fans.
End to a fun-filled day
As it turned out I didn’t follow my original agenda. We strayed away from our original plan because the wineries we picked didn’t have that curb appeal when we stopped. So, we decided by the looks of the grounds and buildings across the Texas 290 wine trail that were grand and welcoming. We tasted at a total of 3 wineries, in my opinion, that was one too many. I will be back with my notebook to take notes on everything I tried. Cheers to the Texas wine trail and to making wine where you live. We are lucky that we live where the modern wine industry has been blossoming since the late 1970s. Today Texas has eight federally designated AVAs and more than 4,000 acres of grape bearing vineyards.
The 290 Wine Trail Complete List of Wineries
- Texas Heritage Vineyard
Grape Creek Vineyards
Heath Sparkling Wines
Texas Wine Collective
Six Shooter Cellars