Stay Trips: Westcave Cellars Winery and Brewery, Johnson City

Hill Country winery reopening in stages

Photo by Gerald E. McLeod

Westcave Cellars Winery and Brewery is the newest 10-year-old winery among the cluster of wineries, breweries, and distilleries along the Highway 290 Wine Road.

Margaret and Allen Fetty entered the wine business in 1998 when they started a vineyard on Hamilton Pool Road near Westcave Preserve. Their plan was to supply grapes to other wineries, but in 2011 they opened their own winery. Last December, the couple sold the vineyard; they still tend the vines and have moved to Hye near Johnson City.

Photo by Gerald E. McLeod

"[The new tasting room] is a huge expansion for us," Margaret says. The construction was supposed to be completed by March, but the coronavirus pandemic hit and everything came to a standstill.

The winery has basically been without revenue since the stay-at-home order ended wine tastings. Wine club members have helped pull the winery through the tough times.

Three weeks into the lockdown, Margaret added free shipping, curbside pickup, and a 15% discount for online purchases. But the pent-up consumer demand was not just for wine, but also for a drive in the country.

Photo by Gerald E. McLeod

Now that travel restrictions have been relaxed, Westcave Cellars will begin social-distancing wine tastings on weekends. Margaret hopes to have the new tasting room open by mid-May.

Also coming soon is Westcave Cellars Brewery. It will be the first estate brewery in Texas, with the hops, barley, and spring water originating on a farm near Sisterdale.

The winery uses 100% Texas grapes, with about 50% coming from their own vineyard. Viticulture education is an important part of the experience at Westcave Cellars, and Margaret looks forward to when she can begin tours again.

"And we're dog-friendly," she says. "I always have dog treats behind the counter."

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