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Tuscany In The Texas Hill Country?


In an article listing their choices for the best summer vacation destinations, the New York Times shared with the world what those of us who live in the Texas Hill Country already know - we're number one. Citing the growing wine country, vibrant music scene, inventive cuisine and festivals, the author of the article declared that a visit to the Hill Country's rolling hills was like a visit to Tuscany. However, the author is far from the first to note the areas resemblance to the rich landscape and feel of Tuscany. And luckily for those who live and play here, we can experience la dolce vita daily, minus the exhausting international flight and poor exchange rate.

One of the main characteristics the Texas Hill Country and Tuscany share are their gorgeous landscapes. Wide-open blue skies and rolling hills mark the areas, with ever changing colors of the seasons. Spring brings green hills with splashes of colorful wildflowers, while fall emerges in golds and reds. The land itself is fairly rocky, and the vegetation as a result is hardy and capable of handling a drier, warmer climate.
 Also, thanks to the similarities in land, both areas share a terrain which is ideal for certain agriculture. In short, they both make fantastic wine countries. Both areas' rocky, well-draining soil, temperate climate and low humidity allow for ideal grape-growing conditions. Local wines reflect this in their rich and complex tastes. As a result, the wine industry in the Texas Hill Country is booming, with over 30 wineries in the immediate area I live in and over 180 scattered in the various wine regions in Texas that grow a wide variety of grapes.  Similarly, olive growers have started to take a foothold in the area, hoping to enjoy the success of the industry in Italy.

The Texas Hill Country gives visitors and residences a taste of much that is wonderful about Tuscany. And yet, it gives so much more by adding its own singular charm and traditions...and dialect.
Texas is one of the oldest wine growing states in the US, with vines planted here more than a hundred years before they were planted in California or Virginia. In the 1650s, Franciscan priests planted Mission vines in West Texas, near modern day El Paso. The vines were a necessity in the production of  sacramental wine. The horticulturist Thomas Munson used Texas vines to create hundreds of hybrid grapes and conducted significant research in finding root stock immune to the Phylloxera epidemic, which saved the French wine industry from total ruin. The advent of Prohibition in the United States virtually eliminated Texas' wine industry, which didn't experience a revival until the 1970s, beginning with the founding of Llano Estacado and Pheasant Ridge wineries  near Lubbock and the La Buena Vida winery in Springtown. The Texas wine industry still feels the effects of Prohibition today with a quarter of Texas' 254 counties still having dry laws on the books.
Map of Texas Winery's



DMS said...

I had no idea that there were so many great places for wine in Texas! I learned a lot from this post and Texas does look beautiful and very much like I picture Tuscany. Now I have another place to visit on my list. Visiting vineyards is such fun!

Thanks for sharing. :)

Jill Paterson said...

I also didn't know that Texas grows wine, Anna. So thank you for this post. I love your photographs. It's such a beautiful place.

Anna Maria said...

Jess...Yes, visiting vineyards is fun. My daughter and her husband took a Hill Country winery tour last Saturday with their friends and the fun they had inspired me to write about them. Thanks for visiting again! :D

Anna Maria said...

Jill...I had no idea Texas has been growing grapes as long as it has and the industry is now growing again as fast as it is. Thanks...the Hill Country does provide a lot of opportunity for beautiful scenic photographs. We live right at the edge of it, I can drive a couple of blocks and turn a corner and see them looming in the distance and the hills always inspire me want to keep driving toward them. I do quite often. :D

Paul Sunstone said...

That was quite an interesting post. I'm almost entirely ignorant of the hill country -- except that a friend has told me how much he loves driving through it during the wildflower season.

Anna Maria said...

Thanks Paul...yes, when we get enough rain in the spring, the wildflowers are magnificent in the hills. Our bluebonnets and red Indian paintbrushes can provide a lot of color. I have a painting up on my easel right now of Longhorns in a field of bluebonnets I'm still working on. I do like to paint scenes from the Hill Country. I've taken a lot of photographs out there. :)

Bouncin Barb said...

I loved this post. I love to travel and have driven cross country but have not been to Texas nor Tuscany. I'd pick Texas because I believe the US is such a beautiful country and there's so much more I haven't seen. Lovely pictures. Thanks for the history lesson!

Anna Maria said...

Thanks Barb! I've been to France, Italy, and Switzerland, and other than the fact they have buildings much older than ours...the landscape is no more beautiful than ours in the United States. In fact we have more of a variety of interesting scenic places to marvel at.

Anna Maria said...

P.S. Barb...we also have giant trees, some as old as any of Europe's buildings.

oneperson said...

I'm another reader that had no idea regarding the wine history in Texas. Fascinating. Instead of Italy, I'll opt for Texas. ;D

Interesting about the trees too. What kind of trees?

PS: Hi Anna! Hope all are well your way. <3

Anna Maria said...

Thanks Carol...please do come visit. Springtime is best, not too hot and not too cold. I'm not sure what trees you are referring to. Maybe olive? I have seen some olive groves but don't have a photo of any. I must get some. :)