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It all began when the Becker family began searching for a log cabin to renovate for their Texas Hill Country getaway from their main residence in San Antonio. Inspired by travels abroad where they developed a passion for wines, the Beckers felt that central Texas was ripe for supporting more top quality vineyards. They purchased a cabin in 1990 on 46 acres of raw land and quickly discovered that native mustang grapes left over from German settlers grew abundantly in the fallow fields of deep sand and Precambrian granitic soils surrounding the property. It wasn't long before they planted their own vines yielding a first harvest in 1995.
Intrigued by the complex sweetness of Viognier, Dr. Richard Becker and his wife Bunny visited the southern Rhône River valley of Provence with its hot, dry summers and soil of sand and limestone remarkably similar to Hill Country. They learned everything they could about the ancient varietal and were the first to commercially plant the grape in Texas. Another Rhône region highlight the Beckers fell in love with were the rows of vibrant lavender growing throughout the countryside. They soon replicated this back at their Stonewall Vineyard planting a three-acre lavender field in 1998 among their sunflowers, red poppies, blue bonnets, and zinneas creating an Impressionistic scene during early summer.
The architectural design of their 1,800-square-foot Lavender Haus reception hall is replicated from a limestone barn at the L.B.J. National Park’s Johnson Settlement in Johnson City, Texas. The timber frame vaulted ceiling, native cypress walls, wrought iron chandeliers, and large limestone fireplace provide a remarkable backdrop for tastings and events. If you're visiting in person, lavender blooming season (April-May) is the perfect time for strolling the rows and browsing a myriad of lavender products in the tasting room including handmade lavender soap, eye pillows, sachets, lotion, and shower gel. They even host a lavender festival on the first weekend of May.
Becker Vineyards' 56 acres include a newly planted, two-acre Wine Club Vineyard of Sangiovese and Petite Sirah varietals. Their wine library opened in 2012, featuring a 20-year collection of the Beckers' private wine selection and single vineyard Cabernet barrel program. The 1960s First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson, famous for her Texas wildflower projects, was a huge fan of Becker Chardonnay. Her letter of thanks, along with many other letters and awards, is on display in the main tasting room.
Ed and Susan Auler's dream of running a vineyard began when they traveled to France in 1973 to source a strain of cattle to cross breed with their Angus herd in Texas Hill Country. They ended up spending 19 days of that trip savoring French wines ranging from Reims, Burgundy, to Rhone across the south of France to Bordeaux and Loire, leaving only two days to look at cattle. Two years later, the Aulers planted their first vines with the encouragement of Texas A & M and Texas Tech Universities. Their test plot grew from a quarter acre to 7½ acres by 1979, and Ed decided to give up his law practice formally establishing the winery a year later. Their vineyards quickly expanded to 400 acres overlooking the west side of Lake Buchanan.
Named after the historic landmark waterfalls that flow up from subterranean springs and through the Auler Ranch into Lake Buchanan, Fall Creek Vineyards also has an onsite four-star Wine Country Inn at their Driftwood location, just steps away from the winery and tasting room. You have two master suites with King sized beds, a stunning rock faced fireplace in the sitting room, and a fully stocked kitchen accompanied by a private chef if you wish. If it's possible that you'd need a diversion from luxuriating in the middle of a vineyard under the expansive Texas sky, downtown Austin is just 25 minutes away.
Photos courtesy of wineries featured herein and Fredricksburgtexas-online.com. Coverage made possible by participating in a sponsored tasting.