The area around Fredericksburg has a wide variety of agricultural products. Maybe it is the elevation (1,700 ft) or the climate. Maybe it is because the tourist traffic is high here and will support it. There is a lot more than cattle here today.
There are wineries, distilleries and breweries up and down the highways leading into Fredericksburg. There are companies whose entire business is carting people from one winery to the next to taste wine. Better than intoxicated tasters driving down the highways.
Most of the wineries have a vineyard next to the usually large recently built buildings meant to look like something from Italy. These vineyards are mostly for show. There is no way they grow enough grapes to make enough wine to support the facilities. Most of the grapes (more likely grape juice) comes from somewhere else, maybe California, maybe Texas … they don’t say. There is just enough grapes from the Fredericksburg area to call it Fredericksburg wine.
We have been to the wineries big and small in Napa and Sonoma Valleys in California. Way back then you drove from one spot to the next and tried a bit of their recent wine, maybe bought some or not. In the Fredericksburg area there are tasting rooms downtown on main street, nowhere near a winery but where the tourists are. Wine tour busses haul most of the rest of the folks around for a significant fee.
At the downtown tasting room and many of the wineries you have to pay to taste. $18 gets you six little samples. You can buy a glass of wine in a plastic cup and head down Main Street, glass in hand. And wine isn’t cheap. The old Two Buck Chuck wine at Trader Joes (now six or more) seems to be a thing of the past and $20 or $30 for a bottle seemed more like the starting point. We don’t drink wine any more so it is a nevermind to us.
Who would have expected to find a world class olive ranch in Texas. Well there is one down near Wimberley. And a place for lunch too. So the willing piled into cars and trucks and off we went. Susan and I rode with Bill Blackmon. He has one of those four door, four wheel drive, short box Ford pickups that are the truck of choice it seems in Texas. It was actually a very comfortable ride and a nice time to chat with Bill on the way.
The Olive Ranch was started about 20 years ago when a local guy planted more than 40,000 olive trees. The first crop came in 2009 and the trees have been producing about 25,000 gallons of very high quality olive oil ever since.
It is a ranch but there is a Tasting Room, just like at the wineries but it is free along with an oral history of olive oil. It seemed weird to be tasting olive oil but it was a good way to “see” the differences.
We got the full story about how olives are pressed to make different kinds of olive oil, when and how to use what kinds of oil and what it tastes like. Fruitly with a distinct pepper after taste for newer oils. Less peppery as it ages. And every imaginable flavor of infused oil you could think of. And vinaigrettes too. We bought some.
Lots of trees, lots of maintenance.
Lots of olives to pick by hand. Billions and billions as Carl Sagan said a while back.
A pretty amazing place to visit with friends.
Wild Seed Farm
The Wild Seed Farm is not hard to miss. When I first saw it I thought there was a lake in the distance but it was a hundred acres or so of Blue Bonnets.
There are two hundred acres of different kinds of wild flowers being grown to harvest their seeds.
And us on a warm sunny day in Texas.
The Yellow Rose of Texas.
And Ted and Susan.
Of course there was a seed shop, gift shop, garden store, wine room and ice cream.
We bought red poppies, Yellow Black Eyed Susans, a northern wild flower mix and some more blue bonnets to try at home. An an ice cream to share.
Another wonderful and surprising central Texas spot. Right here near Fredericksburg.
Roger and Susan