Location: Hill Country
What You’ll Need: Road map, spittoon
Texas runneth over with wineries; more than 160 are scattered from the Panhandle to the Piney Woods. But for a doable weekend that blends good wine and well-run tasting rooms with wonderful scenery, side trips, varied shopping, and restaurants both fabulous and funky, the Hill Country is hard to beat. If you can squeeze in some time on Friday, head to Johnson City, fifty miles west of Austin. Wine barrels planted with geraniums direct you into Texas Hills Vineyard, where you belly up to a tasting bar for a nip of vintages like the 2007 Toro de Tejas, a Spanish-style wine. Continue west on U.S. 290 and stop at the Silver K Café, on your right, if you need a Coke or pimiento-cheese-sandwich break. Motor on into Fredericksburg and check into your hotel or B&B (two personal favorites are the mod Roadrunner Inn and rustic-chic Angels Lodge Above The Creek). Then cruise Main Street’s shops, grabbing a free visitors guide. Before dinner, swing by House.Wine, a home-accessories shop and wine bar that has music and nibbles on the weekends. For big food (like quail with pecan-and-bison-sausage stuffing), try the Navajo Grill.
Have an omelet or French toast under a painting of a green rooster at the casual Rather Sweet Bakery, then hit four wineries on U.S. 290, chop-chop. At Grape Creek Vineyards, in a fine, new, Tuscan-style stucco building, be sure to spring $5 extra for the upper-end artisan tasting. (The 2006 Mosaic, a Bordeaux blend, is worth a swig.) Like several wineries, Grape Creek has