Austin – East End & Holly

 

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Holly is one of those fabulously Austin neighborhoods. Obviously it’s in Austin but it FEELS like the Austin vibe that everyone talks about. Holly is one of the neighborhoods on the east side that has been going through a lot of renovations! The area feels very hip and a lot safer than older generations would remember it.

You’ll find a lot of younger professionals, and college students walking or biking to nearby eateries and coffee shops during the day, and at night everyone is walking to some restaurant or bar to enjoy some drinks and live music.

It’s one of those “NUPINCOMING” areas that is still undergoing a lot of construction and re-vamping but has somehow held onto the charm and unique nature of Austin. Here are just a few places to check out on your visit:

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Scoot Inn was built in 1871 and has run as a grocery store, a saloon, a restaurant, and beer tavern. Most notably nowadays, it’s known for live music! You can click the link to check out their calendar of events.

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Kebabalicious  started out as a food trailer and has now won it’s way into the hearts of Austinites and placed a storefront on East 7th. Their kebabs, k fries and even their salads (their turk salad with chicken is a favorite of mine) are all amazing!

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Hop on the Metro Rail at Comal Street! You can find routes and plan a trip here.

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One place that I’ve been dying to try is Cuvee Coffee! I saw it on the Daytripper and thought it looked so Austin, plus I couldn’t wait to try the coffee that everyone has been talking about. They are most notably recognized right now for their BLACK&BLUE nitrogenated cold brew coffee. Basically it’s a coffee that drinks like a beer. It’s got that same creamy froth that you would find on a Guinness and it’s really good! Drink it there so you can drink it from a fancy glass 🙂

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Burn Pizza + Bar gets it’s name from it’s perfectly crisped thin crust pizza. Check out their daily happy hour from 4-7pm. Discounts on drinks and 25% off all pizzas!

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The Grackle – “Chill hipster haunt known for its draft beer list & jukebox plus darts, billiards & spacious patio.”

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Zilker Brewing Co. is a really neat brewery experience in East Austin. Enjoy the custom bar, six delicious beers and food trailers nearby.

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Licha’s Cantina is always really popular around dinner time. You can expect a little bit of a wait for food but enjoy a bar out back and a nicely lit outdoor patio/courtyard while you wait! Five dollar happy hours are Tues-Fri 4-6pm. The last time I ate here I ordered the tacos Al Pastor and they were really good!

Hope you enjoy East Austin!! And let me know if you check out any other awesome places because there’s lots to explore around this area 🙂

Sincerely,
Amanda

2016 Wine and Wildflower Trail

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I feel like this post needs to start out like that Oprah commercial for Weight Watchers, except about wine. “THIS IS THE JOY FOR ME! I. LOVE. [WINE]. I LOVE BREAD…I MEAN, WINE.” Sam and I have fun saying that commercial in unison every time it comes on because they play it on repeat in between our Hulu shows…

But seriously, don’t you love wine and the beautiful Texas Hill Country?!? Me too! Especially in the spring when it’s covered in bluebonnets! It’s the perfect setting for a road trip and a day of sipping on wine with good friends and family. Who needs to travel all the way to Napa or Sonoma when we have great wine right here in Texas! JK I still wanna go there someday BUT I’ll enjoy the Texas Hill Country too, probably just as much!

The 2016 Wine and Wildflower Trail is coming up April 1-17, but you want to get your tickets NOW because it sells out every year usually by the first weekend! You get 17 days to visit 48 wineries, get complimentary tastings at up to 4 wineries a day and 15% off 3 bottle purchases! Also for fun (and so you remember where you’ve been already) you get a passport that will be stamped at each place you visit!

You can find more information and a list of all the wineries here.

georgetown-grapecreek-1grape-creek-winery-paninigrape-creek-winery-georgetowngrape-creek-winery-trattoria-cafeFour Photo’s: grapecreek.com

Extra Hill Country Winery Events

  • 4.0 Cellars – Live music on Saturdays and Wildflower Brunch coming up on Sat. April 9th
  • Becker Vineyards – March 19&20th is their Annual Bluebonnets, Bluegrass and BBQ. “Woodstreet Bloodhounds will play Bluegrass music on the lawn. There is no music cover charge. Music is from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. BBQ will be served from 11:30 a.m. until out.We encourage you to bring your lawn chairs for this event!!!”
  • Chisholm Trail Winery – Has a pizzeria! The Oval Oven Pizzeria is open every Friday and Saturday, noon to 5pm and Sunday, noon to 4pm.
  • Compass Rose Cellars – Dine at The Kitchen and then stay the night in a casita anytime! Or check out their Last Supper Dinner on Good Friday or their Easter Sunday Brunch.
  • Flat Creek Estate – On March 12th, go to a Crawfish Boil! Tickets are $12 and featured wines will be $5 a glass. Other dining events include their Rustic Wine Dinner: a 3 course meal and wine pairings at $50/ticket throughout the year. You can find dates on their site! OR make a reservation to enjoy some fine dining at their Bistro.
  • Messina Hof – March 5th there’s a Murder Mystery Dinner for $69/ticket! There are also a lot of other regular events at the three different locations in Fredericksburg, Grapevine and Bryan including Trivia Night, Wine & Chocolate Pairings, Wine and Cheese Pairings, etc.

Now get out there and drink some Texas grape juice!!

Sincerely,
Amanda

 

Weekend in Leakey, TX

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Our friend Jon took this picture and it’s the perfect picture of Zoey and Nugget’s weekend. They swam and played fetch and ran round the whole time. They were sooo enjoying life!

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Walking along the Frio

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This picture was also taken by Jon! I’m glad he caught some because I never managed to pull out my camera. I love this one because it catches one of Nugget’s looks.

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Lots of deer in Leakey!

Sam and I had renters in our Austin house so we took to Leakey for the weekend! It worked out perfect because Sam had a day job out near Leakey on Monday, so we were able to have a little peaceful getaway at the same time.

Sam’s parent’s own a quaint little double-wide with access to the Frio River. As our friend – Sam’s coworker Jon – puts it: “it’s like stepping back in time to the 60’s (or some decade around that). This is literally my grandma’s house.” Which he means in the best way possible, and I completely get it! Not to mention the limited to no cell service (unless you have at&t)…it really is a nice way to be out of touch and enjoy a slower pace like the good ole days 😉

We drove up Saturday (the most beautiful hill country drive) and listened to the Serial podcast, Season Two! Season two is about Bowe Bergdahl, the US Army Soldier who abandoned his post in Afghanistan in 2009 and was held captive by the Taliban for 5 years. It’s pretty interesting because Sarah Koenig – the reporter – does a great job of interviewing Bowe and other’s involved or acquainted with the events surrounding Bowe during this time and she pieces it all into an intriguing storyline. I posted about Season One here, but you can find the podcast and season two directly here.

Leakey is tiny, but charming! And it’s a great place to visit in the fall when you can drive 30 minutes to nearby Lost Maples State Park and see the beautiful changing leaves or in the summer when it’s hot enough to enjoy floating the Frio River. But you can really enjoy the view that Leakey provides year round.

There’s also a little grocery store – Leakey Mercantile – if you didn’t manage to hit the HEB in Hondo (or another grocery store depending on where you are coming from). And there are good restaurants, like Mama Chole’s (good Mexican food) and a fun hang out/biker favorite The Hog Pen. Plus a handful of others along the main town road.

A couple other neat places to stop nearby:

1. 27 minutes away is the town of Utopia. If you golf at all, you’ll enjoy the famous Utopia Golf Course, while also getting to say that you have been to the famous town that the movie “Seven Days in Utopia” was filmed. Make sure and eat at the Lost Maples Cafe on the Main Street. The food is good and the building is historic.

2. 10 miles away is Garner State Park located on the Frio River where you can enjoy swimming, hiking and camping!

3. As previously mentioned, Lost Maples State Park! Great hiking trails, sight seeing and you can camp as well.

Happy Travels!

Sincerely,
Amanda

March Events in Austin

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March is pretty much here, almost! March is always a fun, crazy & busy time in Austin because of the RODEO & SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST! BUT there are also a lot of other fun things to do, check it out below!

March 3rd:

  • First Thursday & West End Galleries 1st Thursday’s. This will happen every month! You can look back at my February post to find links to these two events.

March 4th:

  • BBQ AUSTIN AND WHISKEY MYERS: “Come out to BBQ Austin for a day of BBQ, live music and carnival fun from Austin’s largest carnival. Teams from all over Texas will be competiting for the title of “BBQ Austin Grand Champion” and will offer free samples to the public. Concerts will take place on the outdoor stage from 2:00-7:30 p.m., with Whiskey Myers headlining the event at 8:30 p.m. Fairgrounds admission is $8 for adults, $5 for kids. Parking is $10 at the gate.”

March 5th:

  • BBQ AUSTIN AND JOSH ABBOTT BAND: “Come out to BBQ Austin for a day of BBQ, live music and carnival fun from Austin’s largest carnival. Teams from all over Texas will be competiting for the title of “BBQ Austin Grand Champion” and will offer free samples to the public. Concerts will take place on the outdoor stage from 2:00-7:30 p.m., with Josh Abbott Band headlining the event at 8:30 p.m. Fairgrounds admission is $8 for adults, $5 for kids. Parking is $10 at the gate.”
  • Modern Home TourSee some of the prettiest and most well designed modern homes in Austin on this four hour tour and get great ideas for your house!
  • The Beach Boys Tickets 3/5 3-5-2016
    Saturday
    8:00 PM
    Long Center For The Performing Arts in Austin, TX View Tickets

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Photo: modernhometouraustin.com
  • Sherwood Forest Faire is going on every weekend in March. Check out my Feb post for a link!
  • Austin’s Original Pub Run: Run a 2 or 5 mile race through downtown from pub to pub and even by a few watering holes. Check out the pubs on the list through the link above.
  • Illuminate Austin: “Illuminate Austin is an evening walk at the Long Center, along a path lined with luminarias. This fun, family-friendly event benefits SafePlace, which provides shelter and essential services to survivors of domestic and sexual violence in Austin. This year, we are so excited to have The Mrs. as entertainment! For a sneak peek on the band, check out this video. You won’t want to miss an opportunity to rock out with these ladies.”

March 6th

  • Zilker Kite Festival: Watch hundreds of beautiful kites, or enter a kite contest while also enjoying food and other vendors!

March 9th

  • Nerd Nite (happens every month): Speed Dating w/ a fun topic of conversation! (also in Feb. post)

March 11-20th

  • South by Southwest: LOTS of live music, films, interactive fun stuff and exhibitions. The passes are pretty pricey and while I’ve never bought a pass, you can find a lot of free things to do and lots of giveaways while downtown during SXSW. Last year I found free Kendra Scott Jewelry! See an interview I did with Kendra Scott here.

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March 11-26th

  • Rodeo Austin: My favorite by far is the music! This year some of my fav’s coming to the Austin Rodeo are Willie of course, Josh Abbott Band, Cam, Brett Eldredge, Eli Young Band, Josh Turner & Kevin Fowler! Fav by far is probably Brett Eldredgand my tickets are already purchased! 🙂
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Mom & I at the Austin Rodeo in 2010 watching Lady Antebellum perform. They were SO good live.

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Sam and I with a group of friends at the Houston Rodeo that same year watching Eli Young Band perform. Totally just friends at that point.

March 16-19th

  • Heart of Texas Rockfest: “The Heart of Texas Rockfest has played host to Rock Legends and Hitmakers like Tom Morello, George Lynch, Blue October, Ghostland Observatory, Pepper, Bob Schneider and many more. Every year a star is born and we continue to keep the event FREE and open to the public. NO $200 WRISTBAND REQUIRED.”

March 16

  • Austin Music Awards: Exactly what it sounds like. Kind of like an Austin version of the Grammys. Tickets are $25!
headerPhoto: austinmusicawards.frontgatetickets.com

March 17th

  • St. Patrick’s Day Austin: A family festival for people on St. Paddy’s Day (which did you know that was the correct way to spell it?) Get your fill of Irish traditions. OR just go to a pub downtown. Fado’s Irish Pub is always hoppin and will surely get crazy on St. Paddy’s. But be sure to buy tickets to the party before they’re sold out!
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This was one of my best friend’s 21st birthday (Sam D to the right of me in red) in 2009. In January I might add, but my roommate and I thought it would be fun to wear Irish shirts and be Irish for the night.

March 19-20th

  • Artists & Artisans Festival: “The intimate festival showcases the work of more than 30 American artists in beads, watercolor, metal, glass and other media. The sale includes nature-themed handmade items, such as mesquite bowls and handwoven clothing, painted silk art and sculptured jewelry as well as exquisite photographs and paintings on glass. The gardens are gearing up for spring with bluebonnets, winecup and other flowers prepping to bloom.”

March 24-26th

  • Easter Hill Country Tour: Grab your road bike and celebrate Easter on this 3 day tour through the Texas Hill Country. Don’t forget to snap some pictures in the bluebonnets!
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March 25-27th

  • Honk! TX: “HONK!TX is a nonprofit, community-driven festival that brings street and brass bands from around the country to perform for free in the public spaces of Austin, Texas. Mobile and unamplified, HONK! bands transform everyday locations into spontaneous stages, dissolving the line between crowd and performers and inviting everyone to celebrate the joys of music and community. A range of genres will be represented: New Orleans second-line brass, European Klezmer and Balkan, Brazilian, West African and more. HONK! is a celebration of community, collaboration and creative expression. Join the revelry!”

March 27th

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March 29-April 3rd

  • Broadway’s Cabaret: My mom and I have been to Wicked and The Little Mermaid together here in Austin and they are always so good!

Happy Planning!

Sincerely,
Amanda

 

Hiking at Hamilton Pool

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Sam and I have family on his side that just moved out to our neck of the woods and it’s been really fun getting to spend more time with them without having to drive all the way to Houston!

We all spent the weekend hanging out, eating good breakfast tacos (thanks Luke!), watching movies (Everest – ahhhh!! – & Father of the Bride), and hiking at Hamilton Pool. The weather was absolutely amazing, so there was no way we could just stay inside all weekend!

If you live in the Austin area, this is such a great spot to swim, picnic, tan and hang out with friends. Especially come summer time, I cant wait to go back and swim because the water is so clear! The only thing to note is that you want to get there as early as possible because they only let so many people in at a time and once they hit max capacity, you literally end up waiting in a line of cars over a mile long until people leave!

They are open 9am-6pm daily, but they stop letting people in at 5:30pm. You can call their number ahead of time to see what the wait is looking like at (512) 264-2740.

Happy Hiking!

Sincerely,
Amanda

February Austin Events

I love living in the Austin area. There’s always something to do! Whether it’s hiking, biking, going downtown, listening to live music or going to see a show. But sometimes it’s kind of hard to figure out what all is going on, especially if you feel like going out and doing something last minute. I’ve had a lot of Austin experiences where we luckily happen upon something cool going on (because there’s always something cool going on), but then I’ve also had experiences where we go downtown looking for something to do and just don’t know the right places to go.

That’s why I wanted to start sharing the main events that will be going on in Austin each month in 2016! Hopefully it helps if you are planning on visiting Austin or if you live here and aren’t quite sure what to do! Let me know if you have any questions or recommendations to make the list better 🙂

February 4th

  • 1st Thursday: West End Galleries from 6-8pm on West 6th. Go gallery hopping and enjoy art all within walking distance of each other. Some other’s nearby going on around the same time:
    • Women & Their Work
      Valentine Pop Up Gallery Shop
      one for me + one for you – happy hour
      Thursday, February 4, 5-7 pm : Shop & Sip! Please come over and mingle with these Austin makers, enjoy refreshments and browse our locally handmade delights. The gallery shop is open, too, and full of goodies.
    • Wally Workman Gallery
      Honora Jacob | Contemporary Histories
      Thursday, February 4, 5-8 pm
      Preview Happy Hour
  • 1st Thursday: Block Party on SoCo. All of the shops keep their doors open until 10pm, some of them even have special deals and give out drinks. A lot of the restaurants will have great drink specials as well.

February 6th

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February 9th

  • Mardi Gras Downtown! I won’t even try to list all of the things going on for Mardi Gras. Thankfully do512.com has us covered with all the Mardi Gras events. Basically it’ll be one big party downtown.

food_BakermansBakerman’s Patisserie and Chocolatier
PHOTO BY JOHN ANDERSON

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Mardi Gras 2011

February 10th

  • Nerd Nite – “Speed Dating – Single? Nerdy? Fan of free drinks? Come check out Nerd Nite’s Speed Dating! Meet friendly and fascinating nerds, let us know which ones you’d like to talk to again, and if the feeling is mutual, we’ll make sure that you can get in touch later. Tickets are only $9, and include a free drink and the opportunity to reserve a prime seat for the main Nerd Nite event. We will be gathering in the back bar, a.k.a. the North Door bar– it’s cozy, and we think you’ll really like the atmosphere.”

February 12-14th

February 13-14, 20-21, & 27-28

  • Sherwood Forest Faire : Kind of like the Texas Renaissance festival that happens every year. There is entertainment, shops, food, etc. all set to a medieval theme!
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Ren Fest with college buddies in ’09

February 14th

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My second half marathon in 2012. The Spartan Beast. 13+ miles and 30+ obstacles!

February 16th

  • Ameripolitan Music Awards : Awards given to music outside of the confines of what is popular today. A great way for people to discover new artists and new music!

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February 18th

  • Third Thursdays at the Blanton : This art museum is free to the public on the third Thursday of every month! Enjoy art and then enjoy a glass of wine and slic of pizza at the cafe for only $5! Museum open until 9pm on third Thursdays.
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This was one of the exhibitions at the Blanton seven years ago! And that’s me with my best friend from high school seven years ago!

February 20th

  • Mighty Texas Dog Walk : Go for the biggest dog walk ever, right along Lady Bird Lake. There are do experts, free samples and a shopping plaza to enjoy too!
  • Lights, Camera…The Oscars! : I’m excited for this one because I’ve been wanting to go and hear the Austin Symphony and what better time than when they are playing all of the best music from all of our favorite movies? Right now you can still get tickets from $12!!

February 26-27th

  • Austin Jugglefest : If you enjoy the circus arts, then this if for you! Go take a workshop and learn some tricks of the trade.

February 27th

February 27-28th

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The only baking competition I ever won! In 2010 and I won a $20 gift card to Target.

P.S. Always check austinconcerts.org to see what live music is coming to town! Here are a couple in February that sounded familiar:

Mutemath Tickets 2/25 2-25-2016
Thursday
8:00 PM
Emo’s East in Austin, TX View Tickets
Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo Tickets 2/25 2-25-2016
Thursday
8:00 PM
ACL Live At The Moody Theater in Austin, TX View Tickets
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Last year, Sam & I saw John Butler, Wild Child and Luke Wade at Stubbs! Such a great music venue here in Austin.

Hope you all have a fun-filled February!!

Sincerely,
Amanda

Hill Country Trail of Lights on The Daytripper

Good Tuesday evening to you all 🙂 hope it finds you well! Mine is pretty good. I’m grading papers, Sam’s on his way home with some delicious food that will probably expand my waist line instead of shrink it and I’m currently accepting the fact that I’m sick again… but hoping it passes quickly. This weekend we have friends coming into town for a Christmas get together and I CANT WAIT! And I want to be healthy by then.

In other Christmas related news, my second guest post for The Daytripper is up on their blog 🙂

Take a road trip with The Daytripper and see the Hill Country Trail of Lights!

Sincerely,
Amanda

 

Touring Fredericksburg with Texas Winos

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This weekend I celebrated my cousin Megan’s Bachelorette party with my cousins (yes we are all related) and Texas Winos! None of us had ever done a day trip wine tour like this before and we have all wanted to go so we were super excited about it! My cousin Lisa found a great Groupon for the tour, so it ended up costing around $75 a person!

The tour came with brunch, two wine glasses and 5 or 6 tastings at three different Vineyards in the Fredericksburg area: Texas Hills Vineyard, Fat Ass Ranch, and Mendelbaum Cellars.

Texas Hills Vineyard

All of the wines from Texas Hills Vineyard are super affordable, ranging from $12.85 to $19.95, though they also offer a more expensive selection on their site. My favorite’s were their Syrah, Toro de Tejas (interesting story, they actually had to change their label for this wine because a Vineyard in Spain had trademarked the Spanish Bull logo and sued Texas Hills Vineyard…so Texas Hills went with a Longhorn instead) and their Kick Butt Cab. Totally a red wine fan all the way, but for you white and sweet wine fans, their Volare was pretty good too! Check out their wine for purchase.

Fat Ass Ranch and Winery

This place was SO stinkin cute! Probably my favorite of the three because the ranch itself is beautiful and open, the decor is so eye-catching, and there is the cutest donkey named Frito on site that loves getting attention! I definitely bought into the whole brand and HAD to get a comfy t-shirt.

My favorite wine’s from Fat Ass Ranch were their Dry Red (obviously) and their Peach Wine which would be great and refreshing in the summer (as well as their Watermelon wine which I was curious about but didn’t get to try this time around)! They also sell a frozen peach and frozen sangria onsite, also great for Texas summers! Their wine’s ranged from $20-$32. Check out their wine club!

Mendelbaum Cellars

This place was super neat and a close tie for my favorite! This cellar is owned by a family from Israel and while some of their wine is from the Texas Hill Country area, they also offer a wine selection from The Holy Land! Which we got to taste and I thought was SO awesome! My favorites were Abraham, Jacob’s Dream and Sea of Galilea. They also had Olive Oil from The Holy Land for tasting (and purchase) along with bread, crackers, chocolate chips and meats and cheeses. It was a super delightful experience and probably definitely would have been my favorite if they had a cute donkey at their cellars too. Check out their wine for purchase! Wines ranging from $19.99 to $59.99+

I’d definitely recommend touring through the Texas Wino’s tour. They take you on a big comfy charter bus, the tour guide is super friendly and funny and it’s just a big party the entire time! You can bring your own food, snacks and drinks for the road trip and then enjoy the free tasting when you get to each vineyard. I definitely can’t wait to go again!

Any other Texas Hill Country Vineyards I should check out?

Sincerely,
Amanda