While in the air-conditioned comfort of the Purple Possum's tasting room, we met a lovely couple we'd seen earlier that day at a local diner. "Are you on the Wine Trail too?" they asked us.
The Texas Highway 105 corridor might not be as well-know for it's vineyards as, say, Napa Valley, but there are at least eight wineries in the golden triangle between Bryan/College Station, Brenham and Montgomery that offer regular tours and tastings. These eight wineries are known as the Texas Bluebonnet Wine Trail.
Twice a year, the wineries on the Bluebonnet Wine Trail hold scavenger hunt-like tours in which prizes are awarded for those who manage to hit seven of the eight wineries. A Texas Winery Passport is essential for this (and essential for any Texan vinophile).
The most popular tour is the Spring Bluebonnet Trail, mid-March through April. Those who complete the tour are entered into a drawing to win either an overnight stay in the Loft Above the Winery at Bernhardt Winery or an overnight stay in The Villa at Messina Hof Winery.
The Fall Grape Crush takes place September 1 through October 15 and may be more interesting for true grape nuts because this is the time when the wineries are in full production mode, crushing grapes, filling bottles with aged wines and filling barrels with new wines. Prizes for completing this tour include a stay at The Loft as well as a pair of tickets to the Fall Harvest Celebration, a huge feast during which the eight wineries present new wines with special food pairings.
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Each winery on the trail has something unique to offer. Purple Possum specializes in meads, wine made from fermented honey. Pleasant Hill Winery offers a tour on the journey from grape to wine. Windy Hill Winery is located near Washington on the Brazos, birthplace of Texas, and has a gift shop featuring works from local artists.
Messina Hof is considered one of the best wineries in Texas, winning awards for their wine four years in a row. They also have the 10-room Villa which makes them a worthy weekend destination. Bernhardt Winery has the summer-long On The Porch Concert Series every Sunday featuring Texas-based Blues and Country musicians.
The shop at Western Winery sells wines from across Texas in case you can't make the drive further west, and the grounds of Colony Cellars include two koi ponds, a small forest of Christmas trees, a bamboo maze and an aviary. Cork This! will make you a custom label if you want to give a bottle of wine as a gift.
All of the wineries are open for tours and tastings Saturday and Sunday. Some have extended hours. A typical tasting costs $5 and can include a whole glass of one wine or several sips of different wines. Contact the individual wineries for details. A votre sante!