Willkommen to wildflower season in Fredericksburg, Texas

Fredericksburg, Texas, is capable of turning a weekend getaway for wildflowers into a week's worth of fun for the whole family.
by Dave Cathey Published: April 1, 2012
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Throughout town you'll find Sunday houses. Original pioneers received a land grant package, which included a small town lot and 10 country acres. Settlers working their country acres often used their town property to erect small, functional houses to retire to after conducting Saturday business and rise early to attend church and perhaps return to for fellowship before the trek back to the farm. Sunday houses were, to the truest extent, townhomes.

The Weber Sunday house can be toured at the Pioneer Museum.

The National Museum of the Pacific War is dedicated to those who served in the Pacific theater during World War II under Admiral Chester W. Nimitz.

Nimitz, the last of the five star admirals, was a native of Fredericksburg. His grandparents, among the first settlers, were proprietors of the Steamboat Hotel, the original building on the site. The complex consists of the Admiral Nimitz Museum, the George Bush Gallery, the Garden of Peace, the Pacific Combat Zone, the Memorial Wall, and the Plaza of the Presidents.

Lady Bird Johnson Municipal Park, about three miles from Main Street, features an 18-hole golf course, picnic pavilions, The Live Oak Wilderness Trail, a swimming pool, an RV park and fishing hole.

Eat, drink, be merry

Fredericksburg boasts more than 70 restaurants and bakeries featuring German, Bavarian, Texan, Mexican, Asian and Italian foods. Add 10 nearby wineries, and you've got the makings of a truly unforgettable food-and-drink getaway.

We visited Pedernales Cellars, Becker Vineyards, Torre di Pietra, Grape Creek Vineyards, and brand-new Messina Hof tasting room during our trip. Each carried wine you'd be proud to pack up and serve at home. Each offered scenic, relaxing venues to relax, perhaps picnic and enjoy some of your newfound wine.

Meanwhile, what better way to spend a day than hopping from one tasting room to another before a nice dinner out?

During my visit, I had dinner at The Cabernet Grill, which features a crowd-pleasing menu of chops and local fare like quail. Opened in 2002 by Chef Ross Burtwell, the Cabernet Grill is part of the Cotton Gin Village accommodations. The Cabernet Grill features Texas wines and Texas Hill Country cuisine, which consists of game, Southwest flavors, classic German smoking technique and local ingredients.

My visit was during the fall Wine Festival, which included a cocktail party at August E's. Chef Leu Savanh and his wife Dawn opened in 2004, bringing considerable experience from the Dallas-Ft. Worth metro. The menu combines Hill Country cuisine and sushi. Savanh's sushi would stand up to our Tokyo Restaurant in quality and exceed it in artistry.

One of the town's tastiest finds is Chocolat, where since 1984 chocolatier Lecia Duke has been creating handcrafted liqueur-infused pralines and specialty confections. Her inventory of rare Fortunato No. 4 Peruvian chocolate is small but worth hunting down as it offers the soul of chocolate, demonstrating how it came to be one of our most precious commodities.

Peach production is fiercest from June through early August, but the early spring and gentle winter might lead to earlier yield like the wildflowers surrounding this early spring.

Bluebonnets aren't exclusive to Fredericksburg. But the community founded on education and cooperation offers stunning views of them with their multicolored cousins plus while offering a premiere destination for wine lovers, peach lovers, history buffs, bikers, hunters, fishermen hikers and spelunkers.

It's not hard to imagine old Johnny Meusebach, Fredericksburg's founder, perusing a multicolored field of wildflowers and wondering why his tribe of Germans couldn't live in the same kind of harmony with the locals they'd impeded. It's inspiring to think that just as wildflowers combine to create beauty in unlikely places, those Fredericksburg forefathers' spirit of cooperation and inclusion was the seed from which the town's current success grew.

With all that inspiration and a bunch of good food and wine to boot, what are you waiting for?

by Dave Cathey
Food Editor
The Oklahoman's food editor, Dave Cathey, keeps his eye on culinary arts and serves up news and reviews from Oklahoma’s booming food scene.
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