Or rather, Johnson City is the OLD Fredericksburg.
While Fredericksburg is still a nice place to visit, it has seen some changes over the years, from sleepy Texas town to mostly-sleepy-except-for-the-raging-tourist-invasion-that-is-Main-street.
One of the big draws of Fredericksburg was the opportunity to visit the hill country wineries. When there were a handful, Fredericksburg was a great jumping off point. But the winery scene in the hill country has EXPLODED in the past several years and Fredericksburg isn’t the nexus it once was.
This time around we decided to try something different. We booked an Airbnb in Johnson City, an even smaller town than Fredericksburg, notably the home of President Lyndon B. Johnson, and one we’d always considered a “pass-through” town.
April Showers May Bring May Flowers, But They Are No Good For Biking
The only reason we stayed here is because we were planning on cycling the back roads and our rental was perfectly situated to get to them. Unfortunately for us we didn’t remember the old adage “April showers bring May flowers” and instead of a pleasant bike route filled with wildflowers, we got two miles in and completely drenched in a downpour.
Needless to say, we headed home and made other plans for passing the time. That’s when we discovered that Johnson City has a bustling winery scene. Their downtown was quaint, compact, and quite walkable, with wineries, distilleries, and breweries all within a stone’s throw of each other. The best part is that it FELT like a small Texas town, not like a theme park masquerading as one.
I’m so glad we spent the day exploring Johnson City. It felt like what Fredericksburg used to be but isn’t anymore. Even better, it’s about 30 minutes closer to Austin which makes day tripping here a real possibility if you live in the city.
Apparently the “290 Wine Trail” (all of the myriad wineries dotted along Highway 290 between Austin and Fredericksburg) is the second most visited wine region in the US! (It’s bested only by Napa Valley.) Here’s a “taste” of some of the places you can try when you visit Johnson City.
Downtown Johnson City – Walkable to Each Other:
- Alex Anthony Vineyards
- 290 Vinery
- Pecan Street Brewing (brewpub)
- Moonshine Ridge (distillery)
- Farmhouse Vineyards Marketplace & “Tipsy” Trailer
A Little Further Down the Road:
- Siboney Cellars
- Sandy Road Vineyards
- Westcave Cellars Winery and Brewery
- Untamed Wine Estates
- Covington Hill Country Vineyard & Tasting Room
- Ron Yates Wines
- Silver Dollar Winery
- Lewis Wines
- 290 Wine Castle
- 12 Fires Winery & Vineyard
- Bowen Vineyards
- Blue Lotus Winery
- Tejas Winery
- Calais Winery
- Horn Winery and Tasting Room
- Hye Meadow Winery
- Kuhlman Cellars
- Ab Astris Winery
- Cicada Cellars
- Adega Vinho Winery
- Pedernales Cellars
- Narrow Path Winery and Vineyard
We visited only two of them (Crowson and Alex Anthony Vineyards) but that’s a testament to how friendly, welcoming, and just awesome each of the wineries and their proprietors were. It was hard to leave but we made sure to take away a decent haul of wines to help us find our way back. 😉
P.S. Sorry to inundate you with photos of our dog Mochi, who has nothing to do with Johnson City or its winery scene. But she is a new arrival to our family and this is her first trip so naturally, she asked to be included.