Texas Hill Country Wineries Tasting Stop: Hilmy Cellars Welcomes You to a Special Place with Special Wines

Special wines from a special place for a special time…

On your next Texas Hill Country road trip, there’s a “tasting stop” you need to make. It’s located on north side of Route 290 at the midpoint between Fredericksburg and Johnson City, Texas, a 20-minute drive either way. It’s a family-owned and operated winery and tasting room… Hilmy Cellars.

Through this door you enter the world of Hilmy wines!

Pull off Route 290 into the parking lot and, as soon as you enter through the captivating entryway at Hilmy Cellars, you’ll realize that you are in a special place. The architecture is rustic, and the walls are adorned with fine local art. The outdoor patio offers views of the estate vineyard.

Winery owner Marianna Hilmy says, “Over the years, we’ve continued to produce the best wines that we can.  We’ve been updating our facilities and property a bit. We’ve added facilities off the patio and expanded the old pizza kitchen.  We’re still working on the final steps to be able to provide full food services, but currently offering cheese & charcuterie boards. However, we will expand this to include light bites like pizza and panini. We have also added a pavilion, a relatively large covered space with picnic tables to the east of our patio/tasting room area.

The charcuterie boards are delicious and made to share with your friends, family, and associates. But, best of all, there are some special wines crafted by winemaker Michael Barton.

Step up to the tasting room bar and get settled in. We have three wines for you to taste today.

2020 Hilmy Petit Verdot Reserve, Oswald Vineyard (Texas High Plains) – This wine is a limited bottling that exudes black cherry, dark chocolate and spicy notes on the nose followed by rich ripe black plum on the palate that also brings grippy tannins balanced by pleasant acidity. It’s drinking well now, but should 2020 become a bit more complex with bottle age. Wine judges have recognized this Hilmy Petit Verdot with awards of a gold medal at the prestigious 2022 TEXSOM Wine Awards, and Texas Class Champion and double gold medal at the 2022 San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo.

Per Hilmy Winemaker Michael Barton, “Petit Verdot has been a special grape for me for some time. I believe it to be one of the most underrated and overshadowed of the Bordeaux grape varietals. In our hotter Texas climate it has a very unique expression and I find it has good structure but still has some finesse and elegance. I rarely saw it bottled on its own before I released this one and I am glad to see others in Texas are appreciating the varietal.”

2021 Hilmy Robin – Red Bend (Texas) – To me this wine has the attributes to be extremely food-friendly. According to Barton, “This wine is composed of half Merlot from Blackwater Draw Vineyards in Brownfield Texas, Texas High Plains, 24% Durif (Petite Sirah) from Uplift Vineyards (Hoover Valley Vineyards at the time), Texas Hill Country, 18% Cabernet Franc from the Texas High Plains (blend of Blackwater Draw and Lahey Vineyards), and 8% Cabernet Sauvignon from Veesart Vineyards, Texas High Plains.” It has something from everywhere and something to contribute in this wine.

This blend highlights each grape variety in various aroma or palate-pleasing roles interacting with fleshy textures that seem to scream for a comforting meat pairing. Ripe plum mingles with a hints of red tomato and herbal notes, and a comfortable level of tannins. This yields the ability to pair magnificently with winter specialties like beef pot roast or a hearty winter stew.

2021 Hilmy Cabernet Sauvignon, Vessart Vineyards (Texas High Plains) – This Cabernet Sauvignon is extremely pleasurable now, but is destined for enhanced tasting experiences over the next decade from bottle aging. With that in mind, it was crafted with a blend of American and French oak. For the discerning wine drinker who appreciates the tertiary nuances that longer term bottle aging can bring, a case purchase will be a good decision.

Barton says, “This Cabernet Sauvignon comes from one of my favorite vineyards to visit, Vessart Vineyards located in Shallowater, Texas. The clone is French and has incredibly small berries and crops usually 2 to 4 tons per acre. This wine is drinking great now, but I am excited how this one is going to age. So, if you do get a few bottles, nestle them down and your patients will be rewarded.”

Stylistically, I feel that this wine brings together some of the finesse of Bordeaux but with a more intense fruit experience that hints at Napa Valley. There is a plethora of descriptors to capture here in this wine. They include aromatic notes of graphite and cedar with aromas and flavors of black currant, plum and vanilla. Serve this wine with wonderfully marbled and aged beef, lamb chops or other flavorful fare.

For more on wines from Hilmy Cellars (click here).

About the Winemaker

Hilmy Cellars Winemaker, Michael Barton

Michael Barton, joined Hilmy Cellars from Horn Winery in Hye and his experience also includes a stint at Llano Estacado Winery in Lubbock, Texas. This winemaking knowledge is invaluable to the Hilmy Team. He and the Hilmy cellar team maintain a standard of excellence consistent with that set by the winery’s Founder, Erik Hilmy.

Thanks to both Marianne Hilmy (winery owner) and Michael Barton (winemaker) for providing information, insights and photos for this story.

Planning on a visit to Hilmy Cellars… (click here).

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Love to taste, talk and tweet about Texas wines and where they are in the global scheme for wines. After all that's the only way they will reach the full potential.

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