Do // Eat // Stay - Austin Travel Guide

We were so flattered to get the chance to write today's guest post over at Horses and Heels - all about Austin hot spots.  Horses and Heels is an Ohio-based lifestyle blog with "touches of western and equestrian flair" where you can find fashion, recipes, DIYs, and home décor.  We're honored to give H&H readers a little taste of Texas today! 

See the travel guide here.

Image Credit: AustinMomsBlog

Exploring Wimberley

Mix together a little funky, a little western, and a little, shall we say, granola - and you've got the charming town of Wimberley, Texas.  Wimberley is known for its Marfa-meets-Austin downtown square nestled between Cypress Creek and the Blanco River and shaded by big, beautiful trees.  The day after Christmas, we took the short drive down Ranch Road 12 from my hometown to explore Wimberley in all its glory.

Places we loved: 

Rustic Design Imports | statement pieces for the home, southwestern art, furnishings

Ino'z Brew & Chew | stopped here for cocktails and craft beer on the deck overlooking the banks of Cypress Creek - drinks with a view, and the burgers aren't bad either!

Wall Street Western | apparel, boots, jewelry, turquoise

Silver Queen | wide selection of sterling silver jewelry

Hill Country Wine Shoppe | tastings available for 21 Texas wine varieties

Kiss the Cook | kitchenware + chef's tools you didn't even know you needed

Papa Hoo's Hill Country Popcorn | gourmet popcorn in every flavor you can imagine + free samples

Cypress Creek Café | good eats, better people-watching

Cedar Chest | higher-end apparel and jewelry

We just came to walk around for the afternoon and didn't stay the night, but Wimberley is a perfect weekend getaway destination.  We've heard good things about 7A Resort and Rio Bonito, which offer great family-friendly cabins right on the Blanco River. Flora and Fauna boutique hotel and Cypress Creek Cottages offer slightly more upscale accommodations not far from downtown.

Hotel Flora and Fauna

Whether you're artsy, outdoorsy, or just like to shop, Wimberley offers something for everyone.  If you're near Austin or San Antonio, it's worth the trip!   

Driftwood Vineyards

If this winery had a slogan, it could be drink in the view - because that, along with quality, delicious wines, are what you get at Driftwood Vineyards.  With an intimate-feeling tasting room nestled on a high bluff overlooking their Napa-meets-Texas homestead and rows upon rows of grapes, Driftwood has a distinct feel that separates it from the rest of the pack of hill country wineries.  It's a little taste of California right here in Texas, which for the Elliotts, California transplants who have made their home and grown their business on a ranch southwest of Austin, makes perfect sense.

Winemaker Gary Elliott has owned and operated Driftwood Estate Winery since 2002, with the vineyard in production since 1998.  Cabernet, Syrah, Sangiovese, Viognier, Chardonnay, and Chenin Blanc varieties are grown on 18 acres.  The California connection remains in the family, as Elliott's sister Patty Bello and her husband operate B&E Vineyard in Paso Robles, California.  Driftwood Vineyards is the only place, besides the B&E tasting room, that sells that wine, including their Cabernet and Red Rhythm blend. 

Driftwood Vineyards earned a little time in the spotlight recently, and deservedly so, as their 2012 Longhorn Red was named the Top Texas Wine by the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo International Wine Competition.  That's not top Texas wine in a certain category or certain grape variety - that's Top Texas Wine, period.  Out of 2,578 entries, including multiple entries from 43 Texas wineries, Driftwood's Longhorn Red took home top honors in the 2015 competition, and the prestigious award has contributed to a rise in popularity that has caused the winery to outgrow the capacity of their production scale. 

Bottling photos courtesy of Laura Elliott

In 2015, Driftwood Vineyards' wines will no longer be available for purchase from other distributors and retailers; tasting room and wine club sales will max out what the winery can currently accommodate for production.  That just means that to taste this wine for yourself, you'll have to make a trip to their gorgeous facilities just on the edge of Driftwood, Texas.  The tasting room is open daily from 11-6 in the winter and 11-7 in the summer.  A western-facing bluff overlooking oak trees and grapevines is a perfect place to catch a beautiful hill country sunset.  Grab a glass (or a bottle), sit on the patio (or a blanket in the grass), catch a breeze and just drink in the view.

Twisted X Brewery

Quickly gaining popularity among the plethora of hill country breweries and wineries is a craft beer microbrewery that has cornered the market on what they've coined "Tex Mex Beer."  Twisted X aims to create brews based on a fusion of traditional craft beer taste with the more popular Mexican beer varieties already on the market.  We went for a tasting on a crisp fall afternoon and enjoyed the flavorful Tex Mex beers as the breeze came through the open-air tasting room.

With a lineup of six beers, two of which interchange with limited-time special edition brews, Twisted X offers something for almost every palette.  I was excited to try Siesta, a prickly pear lager, and couldn't pass up Fuego, their signature jalapeno-infused pilsner.  Neither disappointed.  The guys enjoyed Cow Creek, the dark lager, and Senor Viejo, a tequila-aged imperial black lager.  The Chupahopra definitely lives up to its name, taking it up a notch on the hops scale and delivering that intense flavor more typical of craft IPAs.  And finally, the Twisted X Premium Lager gives the true Tex Mex flavor profile they're after, with a unique taste that appeals to just about anyone.

Make the 30-minute drive west of Austin to Twisted X's gorgeous facilities and take a tour or just have a tasting.  They'll be happy to provide chips and salsa for you to munch on while you sip your Tex Mex Beer.  And remember, as the Twisted X saying goes, always drink upstream from the herd.