Mandola Winery: A slice of Italy in Texas Hill Country

Texas Hill Country is a unique and scenic region tucked away in the center of the Lone Star State. The rolling hills and limestone cliffs begin just west of Austin and run as far south as San Antonio, with narrow, twisting country roads and interesting small Texas towns dotting the area.

One of the hidden gems in Hill Country is a winery called Mandola’s, found just outside the tiny town of Driftwood, a short drive south-west of Austin. Visitors are greeted by row after row of grape vines as they turn up the long drive way, and by the time they reach the main building, they’ll swear that they’ve left Texas behind and have been transported to Italy. Everything about the setting helps to complete this illusion, including the architecture of the buildings, the meticulously landscaped grounds, and the rolling hills that surround the vineyard.

Mandola’s is surrounded by 20 acres of vines that produce the grapes that go directly into their home grown wines. The vineyard offers six different, and very unique, wines, that are reminiscent of something that would be made in the Italians regions of Sardinia or Sicily, blending the locally grown grapes with other fruits to create flavors that are unlike any other.The vineyard opened in 2006 and holds daily tours and wine tasting. There is also a large, beautiful restaurant on the grounds that serves up amazing Italian cuisine and has an extensive wine list that includes Mandola’s own creations as well as plenty of other great wines.

Visitors to Texas who are looking for a fun and unique wine experience should definitely make the drive to Mandola’s. The scenic Hill Country will make the experience a pleasant one, and the winery will offer plenty of fine dining and amazing wines as well. It’s a trip to southern Italy, no passport required.

Relax in the heart of Texas – JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort and Spa

Be not deceived by the long name, the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort and Spa is going to be a simple and relaxing place where you can rest your hot and weary body.

Opening in February 2010, the resort will feature two PGA TOUR 18 hole Tournament Player’s Club golf courses, a six-acre water park, seven restaurants and lounges (including a multi-media sports bar) and a spa which incorporates local herbs like lavender into their treatments.

Why (or “where the heck is”) Texas Hill Country? The area is a calming landscape of rolling hills and oak trees comfortably close to San Antonio (under 20 minutes from the airport). The Hill Country has more than 20 local wineries, spelunking, hunting, fishing, The Guadalupe River, and peach and olive orchards — not really what most of us picture when we think of Texas, but perhaps what we should!

Even your reading list is taken care of — if you’re visiting the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort and Spa, you should pick up a copy of “The Unlikely Lavender Queen” by NY writer Jeannie Ralston, which chronicles her “reluctant relocation” to Texas Hill Country from Manhattan — I don’t want to spoil anything for you, but it turns out she likes it pretty well. The book is a great tale of unwinding, and is the perfect light read for this vacation.

For more information, and if you are interested in booking, visit