Driftwood Vineyards Review
Address: 4001 Elder Hill Rd. Driftwood,Texas 78619.
Phone Number: 512-858-9667
Tasting Hours: Summer 10:00-7:00, Winter 10:00-6:00
Region: Texas Hill Country AVA, Texas
Reviewer: Becky Parr
Review Date: 11/2/2014
Reviewer: Becky Parr
This is where to come to find out why they call this area the Hill Country.
If you’re not from Texas, or have spent time only in West Texas or at the Texas beaches, you probably think of Texas as being FLAT. Well, it is. It’s also full of piney woods and features the occasional canyon. At any rate, though, you may not think of Texas as being hilly. The view at Driftwood Estate Winery shows visitors exactly how that idea is wrong.
The Place:  The view is the star of the show at Driftwood. It’s located at the top of a bluff overlooking a gorgeous Hill Country vista. There’s a large picnic area and pavilion for weddings and private parties, facing west, so you get the best sunset the Hill Country has to offer. I’d suggest taking a picnic or a mid-afternoon snack and spending time outside provided, of course, that it’s not 100 degrees or 20 degrees, both of which are certainly possible in this area of the state.
There are some indoor facilities as well, but clearly the emphasis is on the outside area. The tasting counter is a large L, standing room only; then a small room with the cash register and some gift items; then a larger room with big windows and tables, but they’re mostly high tables without chairs. If you want to sit, relax, and enjoy your wine, go outside.
The People:  Several people staff the L-shaped counter, and who you get depends on where you stand. We got a young man named Blake, who was informative but not terribly conversational it was a fairly busy (and warm) Sunday afternoon. The great part about this setup is that other servers willingly jump in and pour if your initial server steps away. Tastes are 6 for $12, which seems a little high considering the size of the pour. They stick pretty carefully to the one-ounce pour that comes out of the measuring nozzle. To me, that’s not quite enough. I think you need at least three sips to really get the true flavor of the wine, even if you’ve cleansed your palate or had a cracker since the last taste. Also, with a significant number of wines on the tasting menu, choosing six can be difficult. Normally, I go with a companion, and we pass tastes back and forth with a one-ounce pour, that’s pretty hard to do. Some of the tastes described in this article are from my best friend’s point of view, since I couldn’t quite share her wine. Sometimes I got a tiny taste of hers, but I might have appreciated the wines more with the more optimal 3-4 sips.
The Wines:  There are some pretty good wines here, and some that are less remarkable. The Viognier is one of the nice ones. It tastes of white peaches and is drier on the finish. I found the Gotas de Oro to be overly sweet; Blake said it was a blend of Chardonnay and Muscat, so I tried it, but the Muscat took over. So, on to the reds.
I enjoyed the Sangiovese. It’s light and easy drinking with no noticeable tannins. The Longhorn Red is a pleasant blend, with a little more of the tannic feel. The Alamo Red is one of the best at Driftwood, a Cabernet/Merlot 50-50 blend; apparently the pro tasters think so too, for this one is a gold medal winner at the 2015 Houston International Wine Competition. The Syrah is good too with blackberry and black cherry flavors and a bit of pepper on the finish. The Armadillo Red is their sweet red wine, and it is pretty sweet.
Driftwood has a sister winery, B & E Vineyard, in Paso Robles, California, and the tasting room pours some of their wines as well. We tasted a few of theirs; my favorite was the Merlot. The Cabernet Sauvignon is nice too, and the Brady Zinfandel wasn’t bad, but it had an odd nose and didn’t really taste like a Zinfandel.
We tried two sparkling wines, the DH Lescombes from New Mexico, which is very dry but good, and the Raspberry Rose, which is sweeter, but it’s a fruity sweetness from the raspberries. It has a lovely nose and is very enjoyable.
Insider’s Tip:  Look for Mama Cat, curled up in her basket in the corner of the tasting room, on the bottom shelf of the bookshelf. She’s a sweetie. The winery allows dogs outside, but not inside, at the request of Mama Cat.
Driftwood would be a great facility for an event. The outdoor accommodations are lovely and would easily support a large crowd and a live band. It’s a good place to go, but be aware that you won’t get much wine with a taste; you’ll need to buy a glass if you really want to get to know their wines.