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.