A bank of windows inside the Torr Na Lochs tasting room frame postcard views of a rolling landscape. Neat lines of stemware on rustic tables await the next pour. It’s easy to picture this luxuriously airy space as being in the heart of Napa or Sonoma—until the small herd of longhorns ambles past.
Texas wine country is truly a breed of its own. Vintners here rely on grape varietals unheard of elsewhere in the U.S. The number of permits for wineries, tasting rooms, and production facilities statewide is approaching 800, a 198% increase from a decade ago, according to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. And 8 distinct growing regions—called American Viticultural Areas (AVAs)—each offer their own microclimates and soil compositions, which impart unique flavors to their grapes.
“When it comes to terroir, we have so much variety in Texas,” says Karen DeBerry, who opened Torr Na Lochs in Burnet with her husband in 2015. “We’re a very large state. The country of France can fit inside the state of Texas.”
All this has led to a homegrown industry that’s mature enough to offer oenophiles sophistication, but young enough to entertain palates with some delightful surprises—if you know where to look. Those who want a deeper dive into Texas wine may find their next favorite spot among these 3 off-the-beaten-path areas (be sure to designate a driver if you plan to drink alcohol).