First Glimpse of Texas Hill Country

A few people asked for more Texas posts and I couldn’t help but oblige! A few weekends ago, a friend and I were feeling a bit jittery in Austin so, since we’re both travelbugs, we decided on a little daytrip into Texas Hill Country. In no time, we had envisioned the perfect schedule: a day of hiking followed by a few wine tastings at the vineyards.

Texas Hill country is made up of 25 South and Central Texas counties and is only an hour away from Austin. It’s probably the only part of Texas that isn’t as flat as the prairies I left behind in Illinois. What can I say? I really hate any type of leg definition. I’m also told that this part of Texas also features an odd number of caverns, which is weird because you never associated huge caves with Texas. Huge guns? Yes.

We decided to check out Balcones Canyonlands, official title Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge and hopefully there were some vineyards near Marble Falls area. Apparently, it turns out we didn’t need to worry about that because Texas Hill Country is also prime real estate for vineyards. Something about the great weather all year round allowing both residents and plants to flourish and be happy, not that I’m bragging. But this is where I’ll mention that the temperature was over 80F/27C. In February.

Nothing about the place itself was distinguishable from other parts of hilly America—as you’ll see from the photos below—but I liked Balcones because I got damn tired of hiking the Barton Creek Greenbelt and welcomed a change of scenery with all my heart. More so because of how little the city I could feel; it was literally in the middle of rolling hills and cities with so few people and businesses that I was worried there wasn’t going to be a gas station when my tank got near empty. Now I call that a rural retreat. Some of these photos of the drier parts also look like we could pretend we went on a Safari somewhere and our friends wouldn’t be any wiser.

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Halfway through our hike, it turned a bit supernatural and horror-movie esque. We met up with this huge… tub of red. It looked disturbingly like blood so we hurried away and pretended not to have seen that. Best case scenario, it’s extreme rusting. Worst case scenario… well, the real Texas Chainsaw Massacre did happen about an hour from Austin…

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IMG_0262 You know when I do the hand-on-the-hip pose? Every time I take a solo photo, which means every damn photo.

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Ultimate safari photo! A movie poster of when a girl goes Africa for a Wild-like backpacking trip (but with more human contact and humanity life lessons) and discovers the true meaning of happiness. Ends up staying in Africa, married to some local, forever. End scene: her laughing, freeze frame. White words depicting what she’s doing today reads: After narrowly surviving a harrowing lion attack, she still lives there, hobbling on her one leg.

One thing that’s remarkable about Texas Hill Country is the Colorado River that slices through it, Brita clean and icy cold. Seriously, if it weren’t for the ripples and reflections from the sun, I wouldn’t have known there was water there at all. It reminded me of that scene from any dinosaur movie when they’re all searching desperately for water after all their normal sources evaporated from all the meteor showers (man, what were we forced to watch as kids?) and then they find this insanely delicious magical water and save their tribe. They marketed that water so well that as a kid, I wanted that water so bad; I was convinced that it tasted like cocaine, or whatever made adults happy. That’s how delicious the water looked.

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As we neared the end of our hike, I came to realize that I was hiking with a little monkey. This girl could climb, weave, and bob her way through anything. And that’s just at the dance club. Badum-shhh.

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IMG_0291 She made it look so easy that I had to try. I fully believe that her half-inch on me made all the difference.

Balcones, clumsy After walking around a bit more, we collectively agreed that it was time for wine—we had no time to lose! Our first and, as it turned out, only vineyard stop of the day was at FlatCreek Estate, an 80-acre vineyard that produced wines like the Super Texan. As we rounded the corner onto the vineyard, we noticed that the shrubs were all naked! Apparently February wasn’t the season for grape-growing, but who would’ve know with weather like this? We were just grateful wine tasting isn’t a seasonal thing!

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IMG_0299 Sorry for the horrible photo—in a rare moment of self-consciousness and gun-fearing, I didn’t want to be too obvious that I was taking everyone’s photo below.

 

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IMG_0302 A sommelier (?) came over, put down a plate carrying crackers and dark Hershey kisses, and introduced the process. I barely paid her any attention because I was eyeing those Hershey kisses so fervently. But the gist was: after starting with the first one, a pinot grigio, we needed to choose which out of the two we wanted to try next—and so on down the list. The tasting would only cost $10 and at the end, we were to be gifted one of their signature wine glasses! We got to feel fancy and it was budget friendly? Jackpot! Of course, the smartest thing to do was to split up the list so we could taste all of them, but when it came to Prosecco, we both opted for that one. My favorites were:

Drusian Brut Prosecco, imported from a small winery in Italy
Syrah 2009
Port Vmade on the estate

Before you take my recommendations too seriously, I should tell you that my wine-tasting buddy was much more of an expert in this topic. Instead of the two phrases that I use to describe wine, “Ooh, yeah, I like this one! It’s a red,” and “Nope, not for me, this one’s a white” she would say things like “This wine’s a bit too dry for me,” or “This one’s really crisp and sharp!” The only time I could positively identify something in the wine—leather—was because it was written on the sheet in front of me.

“Have you ever played on of those games where you try to guess which wine is which?” she asked. Well, the answer is obviously a “no” here because I’d only be able to comment on what color the wine is.

At the end of the tasting, it was very clear that this was the only vineyard we’d be able to visit today. Our heads were fuzzy, but our hearts were happy.
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Drinking wine Afterwards, we made our way up to the restaurant part of the winery for a bit of Creme Brulee. Perhaps we did a bit of menu Googling while we were sampling the wine. Because it was so nice out, we had to sit outside—and were rewarded with a dog and a sight! The Creme Brulee was heavenly and came so neatly arranged on the plate. Sounding a bit like broken records at this point, we said, “This day was SO perfect!!” between each satisfyingly crunchy bite.

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IMG_0317 We then walked off the remaining buzz and the Creme Brulee pooch by circling the estate, a bit sad that this day had to come to an end. And then we headed home, blasting songs that reminded us of happy times on the road in other countries. It was a perfect Sunday.

Have you ever been on a vineyard tour/tasting? What’s your favorite vineyard? White or red?

Welcome to this week’s Travel Tuesday linkup with A Compass Rose!

This week, I’m happy to feature Laura from Laughter is Catching and her post “Moments in Matera, Italy.” Oh my goodness, it looked like such a rustic place to stay and such a good time!

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Ready to link up? Let’s get to it!

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1. Share a post about travel!  From roadtrips to trips abroad and from past travels to dream vacations.  You can write about travel tips and tricks, favorite places to stay or anything in between! Just make it about traveling somewhere!

2.  Grab the lovely button and link back to your lovely hosts: me, Marcella, Amanda, and Caity

3. Linkup goes live! Every Tuesday at 8 am GMT.

4.  Hop around and meet new travel-loving bloggers! Link up will be open for a few days, make sure to check back to visit some of the newer travel posts!

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  • http://prettythingandco.com/ Madaline

    There is something so very American about Texas – your pictures are beautiful! I don’t know exactly where I drove through years ago when I moved to LA but it just land and land and more land for as far as I could look…

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

      Haha, I agree Madaline! Texas is definitely a place where nationalism is overwhelmingly strong. And yeah, a lot of driving in Texas is either highway fast food joints or nothing but farmland, haha. Although I don’t mind driving through a lot of farmland because it’s awesome.

  • http://www.adifferentpieceofsky.com Sara

    This definitely does look like a perfect day! Except for maybe the possible murder scene. I’m a little jealous of the weather there! I thought the weather here has been nice lately (about 15 C) haha! Also that pup looks so cute!!

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

      Well, to make you feel better a) It’s almost spring!! b) lately it’s just been cloudy and rainy so nothing special. I knowwww! He was so old it was adorable :)

  • http://www.californienne.com/ Marianne

    Ooooo what a nice day! I want to go hiking and then finish it off with a wine tasting, complete with hersheys kisses and a dog. Sounds perfect. Something about the photo that you took that has the massive truck in it, that just screams “AMURICA” made me miss home (weird). Maybe because my dad had a truck like that and there are no trucks whatsoever in France. I honestly have no idea what farmers do here.

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

      HAHAHA so true. If objects could speak, in Texas they would be screaming “‘MURICA” over and over again in your face. You should visit one day and we can hike and wine taste ;) Hahaha, they have those mini-18 wheelers in France that look like toys! Maybe farmers use those?

  • http://ofgoldenroses.blogspot.com/ Sara Rose

    I haven’t been to the Hill Country in years and I only live in Houston!

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

      You should plan on visiting again sometime soon! :)

  • http://www.akeanesenseofadventure.com/ Christine | A Keane Sense

    Love the Hill Country! Haven’t been to a Texas vineyard in years… but we do head to Austin a handful of times a year. I miss those blue skies! Nothing but rain in Houston for the past 2 weeks it seems like!

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

      Haha it’s been the same in Austin lately and I’m so over it!! I was actually just in Houston this past weekend! The two cities have such different vibes, it’s really cool :)

  • http://www.clemandmarcella.wordpress.com/ Marcella ~ WhatAWonderfulWorld

    How fun to take a little trip to solve the never ending problem of itchy feet! It looks so pretty, apart from the tub of blood – what even was that?! Love the cute GIFs too! :)

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

      Such a problem!! I don’t think this will ever end so I’ll just have to find some way to amuse myself in the meantime! Thanks, Marcella :)

  • http://www.crumbsinthebed.com/ Kerri

    Creme brulee, always a winner! I usually go for it every time it’s on the menu. I don’t think I’ve had the best ever just yet, but I’m still dedicated to the cause.

    Hikes, yes. Wine, maybe not. I really find wine quite boring. I find most alcohol quite boring and we never think to try drinks when we go places. I don’t think we’d ever go on some kind of wine tour by ourselves. I’ll just hang out with nature :)

    I’m also pretty sure that lady in the top left is quite aware you’re a snapping her photo, people always look so unimpressed when they are caught in your photos. I always want to go “but it’s not you I’m interested in, your just a by product of my photo!”.

    Mmm creme brulee. I had to have another look :) mmmm

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

      Do you know that this was the first time I’ve ever ordered creme brulee? Or the FIRST TIME I’ve eaten it?? Call me addicted now… or a Kerri copycat because I will now always get it on the menu as well! :p

      :O wine boring? :O I always find myself sipping on some type of alcohol.. only when I’m with friends though. It seems a bit pointless if I’m by myself or if I’m just heading home to read.

      Hahahah I’ve never really scrutinized all the faces of everyone I accidentally capture! Maybe I have a really irritable photo pose/face/camera? I know my friends do so because I do it too often, hahah. And when it IS the person I wanted to capture, I claim that they were just an accident ;)

  • http://lanivcox.wordpress.com/ Lani

    Texas wine country? Had no idea. Thanks for enlightening me :) I enjoyed your pictures and taking the virtual tour. It sounds like the perfect day. I miss hiking!!! And to answer your questions, let’s see if you can guess which answer goes with what…Red and No. :P

    • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

      Haha I have to spread the word about places you can get alcohol! It’s my duty as an alcoholic! ;) Thanks, Lani, it was a wonderful day!

      Is there no place to hike in Thailand?? And interesting… I’ve never heard of No-color wine ;)

      • http://lanivcox.wordpress.com/ Lani

        Yes, you can hike in Thailand, but it’s not the same. A colleague and I went to Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai to find a hike that he found in a hiking book (very rare). But we had the darnest time trying to find the trailhead (we almost gave up). This is because a tin shanty had been errected in its place. Seriously.

        It’s a changing landscape and Thais do not hike or walk (perish the thought) so hiking is rare.

        • http://mishfish13.com/ Michelle @ Mishfish13

          I was wondering, because it seems like such a gorgeous scenery to hike through! Hahah oh no :( I do find a difference in mindset on preservation and nature activities when I go back to Taiwan. Mind you—the last time was over 5 years ago, so this may be 5 years out of date. But I got the impression that doing things in nature wasn’t high on the priority list, which results in things being built like that tin shanty.