My parents are currently living in Germany because of my dad’s work. They are in Europe 2-3 months then come back for a few weeks then go back. They came back for the holidays and it was wonderful to see them. Before they were heading back my mom asked if I wanted to do a mother-daughter day somewhere in central Texas. We chose dripping Springs and I am SO glad we did! Dripping Springs is “the gateway to hill country” and on top of being beautiful, has a lot to do. We took the 1.5 hour drive down and began our adventure.
First, we went to Bell Springs Winery. Dripping Springs is home to over 15 wineries, so picking one was hard, but Bell Springs had walk-in tastings for cheap and was open on Fridays, so we picked it. As we drove down this winding narrow road, we were wondering if we had made a wrong turn or if google maps was confused on where the address was. Finally, we saw the sign and pulled into the cutest little area. They had covered outdoor seating plus a big grassy area with trees and lots of places to sit. We headed in and were greeted by an incredibly friendly and helpful employee. She was able to tell us about all the wines in a way that we could understand, but not in way that made it seem like she thought we were dumb when it came to wine. Let me tell you, their wines were DELICIOUS! I have been to Fredericksburg and enjoyed one or two wines from each place, but Bell Springs did not have a bad wine. They are a small winery, so they only make a limited number of bottles of each wine, then when its gone, its gone. They have a wine membership (that we signed up for) and their wines averaged $20-25/bottle. We got to taste 6 of their wines and then the wonderful host made us a concoction that she enjoys drinking at home, their rose with a splash of their merlot-it was very good. After a tasting, we got a glass of our favorite and sat out under the patio since it was raining. We ended up spending over 2 hours there! We then bought a few bottles and headed onto our next stop.
The next stop on our day trip was the Texas Hill Country Olive Company. This is where they make olive oils and balsamic vinegars. We arrived a few minutes before the next tour was starting so we sampled their house made breads with the many different flavors of oils and vinegar. Their oils were everything from traditional to garlic to rosemary while their vinegars were all fruit infused. We were having such a yummy time tasting that when they called for the tour to start, we were sad to leave! I knew nothing about how they made olive oil, so the tour was incredibly informative. We learned about the different kinds of olive trees there are and why some are better for eating and other are better for making oils. We learned how this little company still picks everything by hand and does all of the steps in house. One of the owners is who gave the tour and you could tell how important it was to him to never take a short cut and to make sure they are always making top grade extra-virgin olive oil. They had a little shop that we looked around afterwards with everything from their products to other local products like honey and candles and knick-knacks. They had a restaurant that you could eat at where they had fresh made breads for sandwiches and olive oil gelato and pies! We had another restaurant on our radar already, so we took a couple more samples and headed to our next stop-lunch.
Lunch was at Homespun Kitchen and Bar. It was a tiny place right off the main street that goes through town. The outside looked a little dingy, but when you walked in, it felt like a nice southern living area with wood floors and a big fireplace. It was smaller and felt cozy. The waiter immediately sat us and as soon as I saw the menu, I knew I was in trouble. I wanted everything on it! The food all sounded so good and I could smell the other patrons dishes. Since we had already been snacking on our free samples from the olive company we decided to get a few appetizers so we could try more things. We got the deviled eggs that had pickled jalapeno and bacon on them (YUM!), chips and queso, hot wings, and seasoned french fries (because fries are my weakness). All of the food was so good. The hot wings were incredible. The sauce was a hot buffalo sauce that did not burn your taste buds off, but had great flavor. The queso was cheesy in all the best ways, the chips crispy and flavorful, and the fries were perfectly crisp and perfect for dipping into that queso. The food was all so good I forgot to take a picture until we were halfway through eating it all! If these were just their starters, I can’t wait to go back and try their sandwiches and “big bites.” Unfortunately, we could not eat forever, we had to head down the road to our next stop.
Twisted X Brewery is one of the many breweries in the area and it is close to the main town area. They also had a beautiful outdoor seating area and a central tasting/hangout room inside. We did not do the tour there, but picked some beers to make a tasting flight. Mom is pretty picky when it comes to beer, she likes to stick with wheat beers, while I like to branch out a bit more. Unfortunately, since it’s winter time, they did not have a wheat beer available since they are usually summer beers. Mom sucked it up and tried a few ales and lagers while I tried a little of everything. I really enjoyed their seasonal Hye-biscus, which is a blonde ale that they added hibiscus flower to. It had great hibiscus flavor while still being a good blonde ale. I enjoyed a few of the others, such as the Austin Lager and the Cow Creek, but they were not show stoppers for me.
We the began the trek north with one final stop at Jester King Brewery. This was my second time to stop here (once before with the hubbs) and I will definitely go back. Jester King specializes in farmhouse saisons and sour ales. They bring in the hops from other parts of the country, then try to use only natural yeasts and flavors that they have on site. This turns out really unique flavored beers that are delicious. They have a huge outdoor area that has two huge barn style buildings, one is the brewery and the other is a brick oven pizza place. They have tons of outdoor picnic tables with lights strung up all around. It is a great environment and a fun place to go hang out with friends or your mom for a few hours. We tried a few different of their beers, with my favorites being Biere de Miel and Estival Dichotomous. They also had a large selection of beers, ciders, and wine from other parts of Texas and the world. They even have local cold brew coffee.
If you have been to hill country but never been to Dripping Springs, you are missing out. If you have never been to hill country, then you are just crazy! There are distilleries, wineries, breweries, olive companies, lavender fields, great shopping, food beyond delicious, hiking trails, lakes, water holes, breathtaking scenery, and friendly people. Mom and I had a great day chatting and exploring a new place and we are already making plans to go back this summer.
Switching from a kid-to-parent to an adult-to-parent relationship can be tough, but I am really enjoying the adult relationship I have with my mom. There was never a time I hated her, but we just never really had “deep convos” growing up. I was quieter and overly involved in my high school things, but now we can chat and simply enjoy hanging out as friends while I still get advice and some free meals from mom. 🙂 Until next time, auf wiedersehen!