By Kristine Favreau

Killeen Daily Herald

LAMPASAS – For many, the thought of Texas evokes images of rodeos, steer, barbecues, sprawling ranches and championship football – but not award-winning wineries.

But that could change.

Located near the outskirts of Lampasas, Pillar Bluff Vineyards sits nestled at the end of a winding road, surrounded by plentiful live oak trees and eight acres of vinifera.

Owners Gill and Peggy Bledsoe established the winery in Lampasas in 2002 after spending several years in Stonewall at Rose Hill Manor. The wines offered at Pillar Bluff are all Texas grown, and processed at the winery. The vineyard has won state recognition for its estate bottled chardonnay, along with a silver medal for its "Boar Doe" at the 2005 Houston Open wine competition. Many of their other wines have won awards as well.

After 20 years of military service, Bledsoe was seeking a way to express his creativity, and from that the winery was born.

"Wine is fun," Bledsoe said. "You have to have fun, otherwise it isn't as exciting."

With more than 85 wineries throughout the state, Texas is the fifth-largest wine producer in the nation. A group of 16 vineyards make up the Texas Hill Country Wineries, one of the most frequented wine trails in the state.

Being located so far from the other wineries on the wine trail, Pillar Bluff Vineyards, along with Alamosa Wine Cellars in Bend, developed the Way Out Wineries Barrel Tasting, Futures Sale and Texas Shrimp Treat to draw enthusiasts to the vineyards.

"The demographic of people who visit the wineries in Fredericksburg come from Houston and don't make it out here," Gill said. "We're trying to pull in people from Dallas and cross those boundaries."

The inaugural event was held Saturday at both wineries. Visitors were treated to a tasting of the 2005 red wines directly from the barrel with winemaker Jim Johnson at Alamosa and Bledsoe at Pillar Bluff. Each winery also served a Texas Gulf Coast shrimp dish prepared on site as a treat to complement the summer white wines offered to visitors.

"This is wonderful, we've been waiting for this," said wine-tasters Dennis and J.J. Wooleridge of Cedar Park. "The shrimp is excellent and the wine is fantastic."

The event was held in conjunction with the Texas Department of Agriculture's Go Texan program. The Go Texan program is used to promote Texas products and consumer awareness.

Pillar Bluff's tasting room is open Friday through Sunday, or parties may call to arrange a private tour or tasting.

Contact Kristine Favreau at

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