LAMPASAS — The idea of going to a wine tasting has always been intimidating to me. A look at reviews in Wine Connoisseur and movies like “Sideways” portray a world of people with impeccable palates, able to pick out the most delicate aromas and flavors while flawlessly pronouncing the odd names of the various wine styles.

Suffice it to say I was a little anxious when I and my significant other/designated driver decided to spend a day touring some of the wineries in and around Lampasas.

Any fear I had about my lack of wine knowledge and etiquette quickly evaporated when we pulled up to our very first stop, Pillar Bluffs Vineyards.

Getting out of the car, I was immediately greeted by a very enthusiastic dog. Once inside the small tasting room, it was abundantly clear the relaxed mood created a friendly atmosphere where even my dumbest wine questions were answered with a smile by the knowledgeable hostess, who was nice enough to conceal any gales of laughter when I mangled the pronunciation of their Viognier wine.

The enjoyable atmosphere didn’t start and end at Pillar Bluffs either. Our next stop, Texas Legato Winery, was equally as welcoming.

We were lucky enough to end up at the bar with a group of local regulars, who made the tasting seem more like sharing a glass or two with a good friend on the back porch. By the end, even I, a self-proclaimed wine novice, was getting the hang of it, timidly dropping in my newly acquired wine terminology with the encouragement of the staff and patrons.

The final stop on our short tour was the Fiesta Winery in Lometa. Not only was the tasting room and surrounding Hill Country beautiful, but the wines themselves were unique. Fiesta specializes in sweet wines, something I had been hesitant about trying.

Again, the casual charm of the winery and staff won me over, and I tried their “Back Porch Sitting” sweet red rose wine and their “Decedencia,” a desert wine with hints of black cherries and chocolate.

While we had planned to check out a few more wineries, it was getting late. We spent most of our time chatting and laughing with the staff and other tasters at the three wineries, more time than I’d actually spent tasting the wine itself.

On the way back to Killeen, I was already talking about coming back another weekend. Whether you are a seasoned wine lover, or a neophyte like myself, Central Texas wineries are the perfect combination of excellent, sophisticated craftsmanship, and down-home neighborly atmosphere.

For more information on local wineries, go to www.texaswinetrail.com

Contact Chris McGuinness at chrism@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7568. Follow him on Twitter at ChrismKDH.

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