Forget Napa Valley! Texas Hill Country is ripe with vineyards—and one gem of a resort perfect for swirling away that stress.
by Nicholas Nguyen
Our great state boasts more than 46 wineries, many of them close by in the San Antonio region. Luckily, for us Houstonians, there’s a magnificent place just 40 minutes away from the Alamo that makes the perfect base camp for a weekend in wine country. Tapatio Springs Hill Country Resort in Boerne, TX, is a treasure surrounded by an emerald golf course, with an amazing restaurant, miles of hiking trails, and recently updated guestrooms and spacious suites. The resort is perfectly situated if you want to work your way back east to Houston as you follow a trail of wineries.
The resort’s ranch-style accomodations are cozy, but it’s worth splurging on a George Strait Suite with a king-sized bed that just envelops you. The large rooms feature a wet bar and an entertaining area with a separate seating space. The patios and balconies are peaceful places to have breakfast and plan the day with a view of the lush hills.
The large resort pool has a waterslide for the kids and is just the thing for afternoon lounging surrounded by Hill Country. Aside from golfing (more on that later), Tapatio Springs offers other nearby activities, like fishing at Joshua’s Creek, horseback riding and kayaking down the Guadalupe. The perfect ending to an active day? S’mores with the family at the fire pit; it’s in front of the golf course, with another serene view of the hills.
Winner of the 2015 Open Table Diner’s Choice, Tapatio Spring’s La Cascada has southern fare down. I’m still having withdrawal from the honey fried chicken served with smoked cheddar grits I had for dinner the first night. For lunch, be sure to get the loaded fries—brisket, cheddar cheese and grilled green onions over crispy fries topped with a sunny-side up egg. And it doesn’t get any more comforting than cast-iron chicken fried steak served with buttermilk mashed ‘taters. Just note that the menu changes seasonally, highlighting regional specialties.
If weather permits, dine outside on the patio to take advantage of the amazing view, or chill out there for happy hour and live music in the evening. After a day of wine tasting, cocktails are a nice change of pace; for those inclined toward spice, try the Spiced Piña, a tequila and pineapple mix with a hint of jalapeño. The namesake Ta’Patio Smash is a better option for whiskey and berry lovers.
Even if you’re a novice like me, the resort’s 18-hole golf course can’t be missed. The award-winning green recently underwent a $2 million renovation and sparkles with trees, ponds and streams, surrounded by some of the tallest hills in the area.
The view alone is inspiring, and in my case, inspiration enough for me to forget how bad my swing is. Tapatio Springs offers plenty of golf lesson packages, some in a group setting or one-on-one with a pro. There are also junior lessons for the kids to learn how to fall in love with the sport. Book a session at the Pro Shop, where you can also pick up name-brand apparel and accessories.
The Pure Sol Spa near the pool and hot tub offers a wide range of massages and beauty treatments, like deep-tissue massage, hot stone therapy, micro-peels and detoxing scrubs.
The most unique and memorable experience I had was in the Halotherapy Salt Caves. The man-made “cave” is completely covered by pink rock salt of all sizes; it’s minimally lit by warm lights, creating an otherworldly atmosphere. Even the air felt different because of the sheer amount of salt in the room, adding to the transcending effect.
The salt cave is supposed to be purifying and cleansing, and help with respiratory illnesses and other sinus conditions while reducing stress. Sessions can be purchased in 30- or 45-minute increments, but if you’re looking to go zen privately, the cave can also be reserved. Jury’s still out whether the therapy had any impact on my physical health, but it was an incredibly calming experience, and for that alone, I’d go back.
Nearby—less than 20 minutes away—is the Boerne Wine Co. and the Wine Bar in Welfare, where you can sample a selection of Texas wines with expert guidance. Both places are good spots to try a variety of offerings and discover something new. Want to visit a winery in the flesh? Head to Sister Creek Vineyards, Singing Water Vineyards, Bending Branch Winery or Kerrville Hills Winery, all great, rustic spots about 30 minutes away.
If you visit over the weekend, Boerne has market days on Main Street, showcasing local goods and arts. The small town is big on charm and personality, and as a bonus, is totally walkable. I loved perusing the, assortment of specialty stores, ranging from wine to chocolate to antiques and more.
For more information and to plan your trip, visit www.tapatioresort.com.