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Texas Hill Country

When Texans need to get away, they head for the hills. Situated in the geographic center of the state, north of San Antonio and west of Austin, the Texas Hill Country region is characterized by rolling limestone hills, ice-cold spring-fed rivers and pools, ranches, peach orchards and, more recently, fields of grapevines and lavender.

No wonder the Texas Hill Country is one of the top tourist destinations in the Lone Star State.

Growing grapes and making wine have a long history in Texas. Spanish missionaries planted the first vineyards near El Paso in the 16th century, and winemaking remained an important industry into the 1800s. Prohibition shut it down, and it wasn't until the 1970s that Texas winemaking resumed in earnest.

Today, Texas is the fifth-largest wine-producing state, and the sprawling Texas Hill Country is the second-largest grape-cultivating area in the nation. The Hill Country is home to some of the oldest and best-known wineries in Texas. Just as in California, many of the wineries boast gorgeous locations, impressive architecture and friendly tasting rooms.

Touring Hill Country wineries is a popular activity, and winemakers welcome visitors to view operations and taste wines. Wine events and tours occur regularly, as do various Texas wine and food festivals, of which the Hill Country Wine & Food Festival every year in April is the largest and oldest.

And don't forget the music. The city of Austin, gateway to the Hill Country, is a well-known mecca for music lovers. But don't overlook the singular charms of the honky-tonks and dance halls throughout the Hill Country where, in the 1960s, cowboys and hippies learned they liked the same music.

The Hill Country hosts music festivals all year, but the Kerrville Folk Festival around Memorial Day is the granddaddy of them all, going strong for 35 years. The smaller Kerrville Wine and Music Festival takes place over Labor Day weekend.

Whether you live to shop or are simply looking for mementos of your Hill Country vacation, the bustling old German town of Fredericksburg will fix your ticket. Over 150 shops, purveying everything from antiques to local wine, are located near historic Main Street. Founded in 1846, Fredericksburg was the traditional market center for early German settlers and continues to honor its roots in amenities, lodgings and museums, along with destination restaurants, shops and spas. The resort town of Wimberley on the Blanco River hosts open-air Market Days the first Saturday of the month from April through December, with more than 400 food and craft vendors.

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Publix promotes responsible drinking and supports efforts to fight alcohol abuse and underage drinking. Please visit The Century Council at for more information.