A quick note on the wine reviews
The Lady and I agree that the whole wine tasting thing is so subjective that reviewing the actual wine is kind of pointless. You can read about the wine tasting subject here here here another here and you get the idea. So instead I’ll instead talk about the place and staff. And as a quick note, The Lady and I prefer smaller less commercialized places, so while I wont knock a place for being that, I also wont gush over how awesome it is.
Not much to say this time. We stayed at the same place and it remained exactly the same, which is to say that it was awesome! If you want to read about it, head here
We visited six places this trip, three we’ve been already and three that we haven’t.
Yep that’s six.
Our first stop of the day was to a place a little bit different. We didn’t know this before heading in, but this winery was a slightly higher class, if you consider price per bottle in how you classify things. To that point and to drift away from my little disclaimer above, I will say that the wine was “better.”
Why did I put quotes around “better”? Because it was more so different. We all go to these wineries for various reasons. The Lady and I go to enjoy the atmosphere, live music, and finally the wine. In that order. We’ll choose a cheaper “by price” less sophisticated, whatever than may mean, wine if the atmosphere is better. And honestly, most of the wines in the area are good enough for neither of us to really say that a particular wine is terrible…mostly.
But I will diverge from this usual stance to call out Inwood. While I won’t say that the wine was, to put it simply, tastier. It was very different than what most of the other places sell and their price per bottle reflects that. So would I pay 39.95$, no. But, I can easily see why people would and if you read my other reviews, you’ll see that is indeed high praise.
That said, onto the experience!
Walking through the entry way, we where presented with two options. Left or right. After much debating over our self value and worth, we decided that the right would be the best approach. We simple people are not “Reserve” folk.
Upon entering the room, the first thing I noticed was the smell. Ribs were being cooked here! This place served food, good food by the smell, but we were here for wine. Which depending on who you ask, could be considered food. People eat grapes. The Lady loves them.
Anyhow, we walked up to the bar and explained our desire to try their wares. A nice lady seemed to ponder this request for a moment before shuffling us over to the other room. The “Reserved” room. Apparently The Lady and I’s status is on the rise! We have risen to the ranks of “Reserved”.
In the reserved area we were introduced to the man of this hour. He was a bit different from the usual affair as he was not on staff. He was simply a wine club enthusiast whom they allowed to serve guest. But make no mistake, this man knew his stuff. He told The Lady and I more about wine than all of the other places combined, and he was friendly to boot!
Each wine tasting was accompanied by a history of the grape, labeling, and little tidbits. We were both very impressed by the extent of his knowledge and the obvious enthusiasm to share that knowledge. Kudos to you sir!
So if you want to try something that sits outside of the norm, drop on by! But don’t expect the “Reserved” room. That’s for the likes of The Lady and I.
Sitting about 3 miles off of 290, Pedernales Cellars is one of the more secluded wines along the 290 corridor, if you can call 3 miles off a highway secluded that is. We were actually directed there by an older couple that we met at Inwood Estates.
“They have the best views. The scenery is amazing,” or so they said.
But who are we to believe a couple of wine drinking people?! Well… we believed and so we went.
After a short detour that came about because the lady inside of Google Maps had a small hiccup, we found ourselves driving down 1623. A road so unassuming that no one bothered to give it a name. The winery itself sat atop a small hill that overlooked the Pedernales River Valley.
Shameless self plug >>> If you’re interested in a hiking perspective of the nearby Pedernales Falls Park, head over here.
As you can see above, the couple who told us about this place did not lie about the views. They are amazing!
After snapping a few cow pictures, we headed back up the hill to taste us some wine.
Once inside, a hostess directed us 3 feet behind her where we took our place at the bar. A minute of two later the man of the hour, or as I like to call him, the “wine pourer person” came to see to our wine tasting needs. I suppose it not the most flattering of titles, but such is the way of things.
Our guy was very friendly and told us a little about each of the wines as he poured them. He cracked a few wise, I made some witty repartee. All in all a pleasant exchange.
As you can see above, the bar is place firmly in the center of the room and as ample people around to help newly arriving thirsty individuals. Little jewelry displays dotted the bar for those who enjoy such things. A larger selection was also set up on a table in the top right of the picture above. I think the lady in blue made them. Surround the table is a host of T-Shirts and other wine souvenirs.
They also have a lovely looking members only area that overlooks the very same valley that is pictured above. Not being members, we did not partake is such lounging, but it look lovely. I think it needed a hammock, but I think every place needs a hammock.
So if you like grand views and wine, and who doesn’t!, you should give them a try!
Fiesta and Chisholm Trail Winery
I’m lumping these two together because our experience here was largely the same as last time, which is to say great! I will say that the Ghost Rider wine that Chisholm Trail sells caused me, for the first time ever, to join a wine club. Man that stuff is awesome!
Across the way, literal on the other side of the Fiesta parking lot, is the brand new Armadillo’s Leap. In fact, it was their Grand Opening! Though that would have easily gone unnoticed had our wine pourer guy not told us. Just saying that a balloon goes a long way.
Walking in we were greeted by the guy above washing the glass. He asked about our day and made small talk. Nice guy! We actually didn’t realize he would be “our” guy until he directed over to the bar. Once there we did the typical wine tasting stuff.
Being Singles Awareness Day, err Valentines Day, they were doing a little something different. A small table was set up separate of the bar that hosted a woman with a bowl full of chocolate. The woman manning the chocolate booth told us that one of the wines, I forget which, is meant to be paired with, well, chocolate.
Verdict: It did indeed pair well!
After we finished out tasting we headed outside were a band had just finished setting up.
These guys had a classic, Garth Brooks, sound to them. The lead singer was particular good. I couldn’t find a website, but here’s their Facebook page. Their page shows them playing here and there so if you get a chance go check them out.
We stayed for half an hour or so before heading to our next stop.
Next up was something a little different. The building above sits behind a large dirt field that is filled with a huge variety of clay, planting?, pots. The Lady had mentioned it a couple of times so this time we stopped by.
The store is actually two different buildings. The first one, above, sells the usual Fredericksburg affair of nick knacks. The second,below, was more of a general store that specialized in delicious jam and salsa. A third building was under-construction. A small sign indicated that it would be a winery. Imagine that!
We walked around trying the different jams and salsas. It was here that I had my first run in with…the Ghost Pepper. To be fair, there was a little sign above the salsa that gave ample warning as to it’s hotness. But, not to be told off by some yellow sheet of paper, I picked up a chip, deposited a healthy amount of salsa onto said chip and ate that sucker in one bit.
Ohh A little hint of hotness now…
A little more….
A slight tingle…..
OHH MY GOD WHAT HAVE I DONE!!!!!!!!!
After a quick trip to a fire extinguisher, we headed outside so that The Lady could peruse the pots.
After twenty minutes or so of walking about, we decided it was time to head to our favorite spot.
Sadly, this time the good ole Rancho Ponte was a mixed bag. We arrived and went inside to find the place much busier than usual, good for them! We found ourselves a nice little spot at the bar and waited till a server showed up. But one never showed, no, what showed instead was an asshole. He was the epitome of what The Lady and I hate about wineries, snobbery.
“Are you serving sangria’s?”
“No we don’t sever that anymore, we feel it’s below the quality of our wine” … but you served it three months ago and the wines the same.
“OK.. what kind of sweet wines does you have?”
“Well we’re trying to get away for the cheap sweet wine”
This type of exchanged continued for another 3 minutes until we said f-this and left. We had driven 10 minutes when The Lady decided she wanted to complain about the guy, rightly so. So I turned around and drove back. I thought the next exchange was funny. I was trying to get the attention of the second waiter, but the same ass came back to us with zero recognition of who we were.
“Can I see a manager/owner or whoever is in charge please?”
“I can help with whatever problem you have”
“Ahh… The problem is you though”
He quietly disappeared and a few minutes later the tasting room manager came out to chat with us. She actually remembered us from two months ago and to my surprise, read my little blog! She was wonderful and as the saying goes, “made things right”. She listened to our tale of woes and nodded with an understanding smile. She offered to a couple of complementary wine glass, which we gladly accepted. To be honest all we really wanted was an apology and a look at the new wines they were offering. Both things she did. The free wine was just icing on the cake. With our drinks in hand, we outside to listen to some tunes.
If you take anything away from this post, it’s that you should always talk to a manager if an employee is rude to you. Most of the time they want to hear about it because if they were rude to you, they probably were rude to others.
At the end of the day, we’ll still be coming back and I would still highly recommend this place to anyone! It’s still The Lady’s and I favorite spot to end our day. Ohh and they do server sangria’s, but only during the summer. Can’t wait!
While re-reading the last section for vanity and grammar, I remember that this exact same thing happened at another winery last year. However, that was our first time there, so that first bad experience became our last. We haven’t returned. Had this been our first trip to Rancho Pointe I would have steered everyone and their mother away based on the actions of one guy.
The reality is that the wine connoisseurs I know don’t care about that hint of hickory or cherry after taste. Most are happy with the 8$ bottle at HEB. To be honest, I am too. Taking that point a bit further, the wineries along 290 are almost a commodity. A Merlot is a Merlot and is going to taste more or less the same, there are of course exceptions. What I feel really distinguishes a place is how you are treated from the second you drive up to the time that you leave. Is Rancho Pointe’s wine better than others? I’m sure many would say yes, personally, I’m not sure. But it does taste better because we enjoy the experience the place offers. I bet you a Margarita taste better on a sandy beach than some crummy bar, same idea.
But, like the bars on 6th street. It doesn’t matter if Dueling Pianos makes the best *insert favorite drink*, if they piss you off, you’re going next door.The same thing could easily be said about the wineries on 290. One bad experience and that winery is out because there are 15 more whom can readily replace it.
I realize that all of this sounds negative, but it’s really more of a plea out of love. The Lady and I love going to Fredericksburg and sipping some wonderful wine. I’d hate for any place, especially one that we look forward to so much, becoming third rate because of bad encounters.
To end of a positive note, here one badass cat.
Thanks for reading!
And as usuall can find all of this trips photos below. The weather was nicer this time so I was able to play with night time shooting!by