For over half a century, the town of Driftwood, Texas, has been synonymous with Salt Lick BBQ. Since they opened in 1967, Austinites have been making the short drive south of Austin for the famous all-you-can-eat, cash-only, BYOB barbecue joint. About 11 years ago, Salt Lick owner Scott Roberts told Edible Austin about his vision to transform the area into a wine-lover’s paradise and an antidote to urban sprawl. Driftwood Estate Winery and Duchman Family Winery were already established in the area, and Salt Lick Cellars followed closely behind when they planted their first grapes. Today, Driftwood has really come into its own. As the vines have matured, so have the wines coming out of the area. For those who prefer other libations, beer and liquor options are flocking to the area as well. If you’re looking for a nice day trip, or just want to get out of town, head south toward the waft of smoky barbecue. But please remember to drink responsibly, and always have a designated driver for your journeys.
Desert Door Texas Sotol
The sotol, or desert spoon plant, is harvested throughout Texas and distilled in Driftwood to create Desert Door Texas Sotol. Imagine a cross between an herbaceous vodka and tequila, and you get the singular flavor of sotol. Their tasting room is unique as well, with an atmosphere evocative of a lazy day in Marfa. Stop by to try the sotol straight or enjoy a signature cocktail. If you can’t make up your mind, go for the bartender’s choice.
211 Darden Hill Rd., Driftwood
Driftwood Estate Winery
Stop in for some beautiful views and enjoy a “Pick Six” tasting. As you drive out to the tasting room, you’ll climb to the top of a hill that offers a great view out over the vineyards. Select six of the 20 wines they have available for a tasting, and keep your Riedel wine glass embellished with the Driftwood logo once you’re finished. Most of their wine selection comes from both their estate and from grapes grown by Newsom Vineyards in the Texas High Plains.
4001 Elder Hill Rd., Driftwood
Duchman Family Winery
As you drive through the front gates and past Trattoria Lisina (see below), you will feel like you’ve been transported to the Italian countryside. Though the atmosphere is European, Duchman takes pride in using 100 percent Texas-grown grapes in all of their wines. Sample current releases in their tasting room, or find a nice spot outside to enjoy the landscape. Take a turn out of the tasting room and go down the hallway, where you can take yourself on a little tour and view the production areas.
13308 R.M. 150, Driftwood
Hays City Store
The restaurant and icehouse has live music almost every night and its homestyle menu is perfect for any road trip pit stop. Find a shaded spot outside or belly up to the bar inside. You’ll likely find yourself next to a couple of regulars who will happily give you some suggestions from the expansive menu.
8989 R.M. 150, Driftwood
Hill Country Tasting Room
This tasting room sets out to give you a sampling of all the Hill Country has to offer, from beer and wine to mead and cider. You can get a tasting flight or, if you already have a favorite, a full pour. Check their website for the current list of offerings.
18992 R.M. 150, Ste. 101, Driftwood
Fall Creek Vineyards
Located across the road from Salt Lick BBQ, neighbor and collaborator Fall Creek has released some Salt Lick Vineyards wines in their Terroir Reflections series. Visit the tasting room and the knowledgeable staff will walk you through a tasting of six of their wines. If you’re looking for a getaway, take advantage of the two-bedroom vacation rental next to the tasting room.
18059 F.M. 1826, Driftwood
Salt Lick BBQ
The iconic barbecue restaurant is still a can’t-miss stop when you’re in the area. And some things never change, like the fact that they are still cash only and BYOB. But now, if you forget to pack the cooler, you can go next door to Salt Lick Cellars to grab yourself a beverage. The restaurant takes reservations for groups, with some restrictions.
18300 F.M. 1826, Driftwood
Salt Lick Cellars
Enjoy Salt Lick’s own line of wines or try wine and craft beer from many other local producers in the Salt Lick Cellars tasting room or outside on the shaded deck. It will be hard to resist the urge to walk next door and enjoy some barbecue with your favorite find.
18300 F.M. 1826, Ste. C, Driftwood
This distillery has a unique storefront, but don’t be fooled by its industrial appearance. When you first pull up, follow the driveway to the back of the building, and you’ll find a couple garage doors that open up to reveal the distillery and tasting room. Stinson’s has an eclectic variety of spirits including a ready-to-drink nog, an elderflower liqueur and a brandy. Try them all with a tasting or jump right in and get a signature cocktail.
18281 R.M. 150, Ste. 211, Driftwood
This Italian restaurant is from the founder of Mandola’s Italian Markets in Austin and one of the founders of the national Carrabba’s Italian Grill. They are open for lunch and dinner on the weekends and dinner on weekdays. Enjoy their menu of Italian classics while taking in the beautiful views around the restaurant and of the neighboring vineyard, Duchman Family Winery.
13308 R.M. 150, Driftwood
Vista Brewing keeps its beers very drinkable with low alcohol by volume. And pay special attention to their collaboration series; the latest is with Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, infusing the beer with native plants. Vista takes as much pride in their food as they do in their beer, so be sure to grab a snack or a full meal while you’re there, and pay close attention to the specials board! Vista’s culinary ingredients are locally sourced from Central Texas farms, as well as their own garden and apiary.
13551 R.M. 150, Driftwood
by Jenna Northcutt // Photography by Nathan Beels